Posts tagged ‘Schubert’

September 9, 2014

Schubert – Octet

Ah, Schubert. The Octet is a piece full of memories. Skipping lightly over the bad – such as the time my freshly-rehaired bow disintegrated by the end of the first page – this is one of those pieces that bring back lots of good memories of playing with friends and family.

Although the piece itself is a big play, the double bass part is relatively straightforward, giving enough time to enjoy what everyone else is up to. However, with all such pieces, there are little moments here and there that would benefit from some practice.

I’m using IMSLP for this piece, as I don’t have a bass part to hand. There’s a score as well as a selection of sets of parts – this is the one I’m looking at for reference.

1. Adagio / Allegro

OK, the fun bit is in the Allegro – a nice two in a bar – specifically, the staccato quaver passage:

Schubert Octet 1st movement staccato quavers

2. Andante un poco mosso

Don’t let this drag which it will, particularly if someone insists on it being counted in 6 rather than 2. Lots of flats in the key signature, but slow enough that that’s not a problem. Beware, though – there are moments where everyone else drops out, leaving the bass on its own! For example, second bar of B.

3. Allegro Vivace

A rapid one in a bar movement. Keep an ear / eye out for the different length quaver runs – sometimes you get three quavers running up to the bar line, sometimes four…

4. Andante – Theme & Variations

This is definitely 4 quaver beats, rather than 2/4, which is a relief, given that there are semiquaver triplets (and even some demi-semiquavers) in the offing. Keep it light.

Octet - 4th Movement, Variation 2

Note that the staccato marks disappear after the third bar (or 4th bar in some editions). I think this is an editorial thing, and that the whole passage is supposed to be staccato. (The edition I’m using here also stops putting in the triplet markings, but leaves the notes barred like that…)

I’ve failed to put in any dynamics. The variation is quiet, with just the occasional fp (which I haven’t put in the above excerpt…)

5. Minuet & Trio

Nothing to worry about here.

6. Andante Molto / Allegro

Allegro – this flies. Think 145-150 minims per minute. However, it does have a tendency to slow down – perhaps the leader is being over-ambitious, perhaps everyone is flagging a little at the end of a big piece.

Notes-wise – fortunately, much of this is doubling the cello… There are a couple of quaver flourishes, but nothing to worry about. Much. There are a couple of points where 4 bar rests are really two bars of GS (with a page turn for someone), then two bars rest where the viola kicks off the chugging before everyone else joins back in.

The Andante section near the end – there are differing opinions about whether this should be the same as the original Andante Molto, or something else. Me, I prefer the latter option, as it really would drag…

And finally, the Allegro Molto. Even faster than the allegro before, and with quavers. Lots of lovely quavers. Though the first lot aren’t as bad as the second lot in terms of rapidly changing positions…

Octet - 6th Movement - Excerpt

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August 26, 2009

Bow Rehairing

I had one of my bows rehaired last month. It’s a bit of a monster – quite the longest bass bow I’ve ever seen, and too long to fit in a “normal” bow case. The person who rehaired it did not put on sufficient hair for my liking – I think it may even have had less hair after the work than it had before it went in…

Anyway, I got the bow back, and tried it out and it seemed to be OK, so I thought nothing more about it. I finally got round to using it properly in a Schubert Octet, and got halfway down the first page before I noticed that the bow seemed to be a bit loose. Kept tightening it up as I went along, and by the repeat mark realised that the thing was not at all happy. It seems as though the hair is not being gripped properly at the frog.

Does this sort of thing happen regularly? I did once have a cello bow that failed completely at the tip – the glue just gave way in the middle of a concert (most embarrassing). But surely a rehairer should be able to deal with a bigger bow?

Anyway. I am waiting for a refund, and a recommendation for a rehairer somewhere near Leeds who’s up to the challenge! (The length of the playing area is 24 inches, and I like white hair – thanks!)

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August 20, 2009

Trout Quintet

At last! The piece I have been waiting for all week. A pleasant romp through Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet. Although I have played this many times, it still has potential to catch me out in places. And it’s remarkably evocative – I find it very hard to play without remembering the times I played it with my grandmother taking the piano part. Music & Memory – I’m sure there’s research potential here.

We coupled this with Mme Farrenc’s second quintet for the same combination (Piano, violin, viola, cello, bass). Like other works of hers that I have sampled, this is eminently playable without too much to worry the bass player.