This is a page for APO players to view rehearsal notes or advice to be inserted into parts, from Andrew, prior to the next rehearsal.
Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherazade
(Note in italic bold are for Andrew to follow up in the general rehearsal, but if you can make sense of them, they may be useful!)
1st movement – The sea and Sindbad’s ship
- Opening chord – yes threatening sound quality but rehearse breathing together and nailing the note. It’s never not had a split note or a fumbly start yet.
- Work on inner pulse in 6 across all instances – opening, first movement (different combinations of crotchet upbeats (in quavers, two crotchets, first two crotchets of the bar being ‘heavy’), third movement 6/8, return of the sea in the finale and especially the final Alla breve in the finale.
- I won’t beat the GP bars in the opening phrase.
- Woodwind be ready to come off the final pause chord as I hand over to Chico for his solo.
- 6/4 is in two dotted minims per bar
- NEW 18/10/23 – The tenuto marks at the end of the second bar of the theme are articulation only, not big heavy leans or delays. They need to be part of the phrase, rather than sticking out. Don’t try to do them too much. In fact, the same applies to all the tenuto markings in the movement, really (such as in the soli violin parts at F, for example).
- Rehearsal observations – 6th crotchet beats tend to be early, especially when they’re quavers/a quaver and even more especially following a trill. Try to count all six crotchet beats in your head and ignore the bar line – the upbeat always belongs to the next downbeat!
- Rehearsal observation – try not to rush faster notes – especially triplet quavers when they’re slurred (for example, at D)
- Check chromatic bass line from A (especially 11th of A) – second bassoon, tuba and basses mainly but also bass trombone five before B)
- B – wind tuning, articulation, voicing and dynamic on final chord (piano – general point about working harder at piano in wind and brass in this hall)
- Wind solo entries before and after C tend to be a little late speaking and make sure the last note always holds on to the end of the first beat in the bar they finish.
- 3rd/4th horns – chromatic melody after D – can it be stronger?
- Little hold back into E. Horns 3/4, trombones, tuba (and timpani roll), please sustain the last beat into E a little bit longer, before placing your special ff!
- E – double basses, really rock those quaver upbeats to each beat. Really go for them! But make sure they’re precisely on the 3rd and 6th beats – they’re often early at the moment.
- E – accompaniment is well balanced but chords at ends of phrases tend to die away and have too much of a breath – sustain them just a bit longer to give the breadth of the sea! And maybe just a little more from Helen’s trumpet solo.
- F – rehearse tuning and articulation of soli violins
- Third of K – big moment! Bit of a hold up into it, so those with movement in the bar before need to sustain slightly – especially those with crotchets – bassoons, bass trombone, tuba, cellos, basses.
- Horns – pp chords from 6th M – confidence and tuning
- Seven bars from the end – tutti cellos – tuning!
- I might be a bit braver with the placement of the final chord of the movement and wait a bit longer.
- Transition from wind chord into Chico’s solo.
2nd movement – The story of the prince-kalandar
- At the beginning of the Andantino (after Chico’s solo) I just conduct the chord changes in the ‘basses’ (i.e. with some cello help!). In the last bar before A, I split the last quaver beat into two to give the third quaver beat and an upbeat in time for the new tempo at A, helping Ruth place her last demisemiquaver just before the downbeat. Basses make sure you sustain the last note all the way to the barline and Abi be really brave moving on the third beat.
- Three before B the oboe solo is ‘a piacere’ meaning that more of the interpretation is left to the soloist – in this case Michael on first oboe. The accompaniment is colla parte (i.e. with the solo part), so I just show the beats at the start of each bar. Then, the same arrangement as above applies to the beat before B. I beat the third beat, then another upbeat in the new A tempo giusto (Poco piu mosso), so that Michael can place his last demisemiquaver just before the beat . We all need to watch out for the 6th and 7th bars where Michael is (delightfully!) taking a bit of time to be playful.
- The two upbeats to four before C are broader to allow for the stops in the violins. Then a bit of time on the first two beats of four before C before we accel through the third bar before C, holding it back for the rit. in the second bar before C.
- CHANGED! 18/10/23 Then NOT the same as above in the bar before C (this is the change!). Upbeat in tempo.
- Letter D is where the fun really starts! First thing is a general rhythm thing that everyone needs to note. Beware the difference between a duple semiquaver and triplet quavers – the latter is shorter than the former! This becomes more important later in the movement where in ‘normal’ written music the semiquaver is often the upbeat to the triplet quaver in the second half of the bar. Try to make sure the semiquaver is as late as possible so that it doesn’t turn into another triplet quaver (trombones and trumpets you set the tone for this after letter E!).
- Five before D, Michael moves through the next two bars then holds up in the bar after (three before D), but once the phrase completes in the second bar before D, the beat stays steady until we hit the 2/4 at the Allegro molto. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the beat will stay the same here, otherwise you’ll (bassoons, violas, cellos, basses), you’ll be late. The beat gets much faster for what is effectively a GP bar at D, then those instruments come in on the upbeat to the second beat of the second bar. Bass trombone and tuba have to be on it to land their sf on the third bar of D. Then…
- …in the fifth bar of D we take time with the downbeat to make a really dramatic tremolando in the violins (bassoons, violas, cellos and basses make sure you sustain your held diminuendo note until this has properly begun), along with the oboes and horns 1/2. The forte of this note is sustained while Prin (second trombone) plays his first solo. When he dims we dim with him, and I (finally) lay down the beat for the second bar for the pizz in the violas, cellos and bass (oboes take note – you stay held until the 2/4 bar that follows!). At the start of the 2/4 bar (seventh of D) everyone but the flutes comes off. The flutes hold on in the next bar (eighth of D) and when I place the next downbeat, for the ninth bar of D, we’re back in tempo. That downbeat is effectively a breath for the entry on the second beat from the bassoons, violas, cellos and basses. Once again, it’s legitimately hard for the bass trombone and tuba to join the phrase with their sf, but I have every faith! (Again, I’ll record a video for all of this).
- The whole thing happens again for the second molto moderato but this time, there’s a whole GP bar in tempo (third bar of E) and another beat before the second violins come in on the upbeat to the second beat of the fourth of E! The tricky join here is for the 2nd clarinet and 2nd bassooon who join in the fifth of E. Phew!
- Letter F – the 2/4 crotchet beat halves in speed so that a bar in 2/4 becomes a beat in 4/4. The string play exactly what’s written until the pause, whereupon they keep playing the same semiquaver as together as possible until I show the end of Sarah’s clarinet solo and the beginning of the next bar.
- At G we head back into 2/4. At the ninth of G the 3/8 will be significantly slower than the 2/4 crotchet beat (we just have to rehearse this). REHEARSAL OBSERVATION FROM SECOND WEEKEND – I took the Vivace Scherzando far too fast in the run through – apologies. We’ll practice the transition on the day and it will be a lot steadier at around dotted crotchet = 112.
- At H, please make sure you stay aware of the stringendo which takes place over quite a while. Easy to lose sight of it. But don’t do it by yourselves – work with me! Same for the end stringendo.
- Letter L – wind entries – check confidence.
- Letter L is the same arrangement as letter F, but this time there’s an extra bar (featuring the wind) before the pause, and the solo comes from Ruth on bassoon.
- Pauses before O: four and six before we have a delayed pickup on the third beat, and for each of them we work our way quickly back into tempo rather than ‘snapping’ straight into tempo. This enables us to use our ears to try to stay together – in theory! The pause two before O is easier as everyone moves on the second beat of the bar before O – we just need to come off the tie on the first beat of the bar before O to make the two upbeat notes a separate phrase.
- Similar to the above with the working our way quickly back to tempo after the pauses before P, using the third beat to work back into tempo. The only difference is that there’s a second second beat in the fifth before P, which is particularly important for those counting rests!
- Nine before Q, note that the pause happens the bar after the big chord at the end of the phrase. This gives me time to make a nice downbeat on the change of tempo eight before Q, for harp and violins to come in on the second beat. The rest of the pauses in the phrase work off the third beat, but watch out for the third pause (three before Q) where the harp has a gliss-fest and we have to wait a long time for that third beat).
- The accelerando at R is another long one, so easy to lose focus. Try to maintain awareness throughout it. Once we get to the animato, seven bars from the end, it won’t get faster but those tied over into the fifth bar from the end need to anticipate enough to move onto their triplet semiquavers on time (but not before the beat!).
3rd movement – The young prince and princess
- Note to self – start rehearsal with transition into N and to the end, for general confidence.
- This movement is mostly in 2 (dotted minims) but occasionally I’ll need to beat the quavers to help keep it together, because the music ebbs and flows so much. I won’t specify all the occasions when this happens below, as there needs to be a bit of freedom to react to the music and shape it. Just be aware – especially at the beginnings and ends of phrases (and mini-phrases within phrases) – you really can’t take your awareness away for a second, even when counting rests.
- NEW REHEARSAL OBSERVATION – Everyone needs to listen and watch around these bars, as many people in the accompaniment are moving lazily off the beat. Everyone needs to move together. Further observation on listening is that this often happens with the accompaniment. Anyone with ‘easy’ accompaniment music needs to be on their guard for listening to the pulls and pushes of the tune. (Original comment) Sarah on clarinet, Caroline on flute, your demisemiquaver arches should hold back over the top in the middle of the bar like a rollercoaster getting to the top of a hill. But violins don’t try to do this too much with yours after B because there’s many more of you and it’ll come unstuck.
- Anyone with the tune, make sure there’s not to much of a lump in the first bar, on the second beat. It all leads to the second bar downbeat.
- Violins – where it moves to sul G in bar 8 we need to work out a way of it not making the sound and tuning too ‘dirty’. It’s a subtle change in colour and unless you’re really confident with it, don’t do it sul G (or don’t do it until the mf at the end of the phrase, which is the most important bit, and even then don’t do it if you feel uncomfortable with the tuning). Same for similar instructions for the cellos after A.
- Caroline, let’s take a little bit more time on the upbeats 5 and 3 before B, and start/finish the demisemi arches with the same lovely hesitation you’re giving over the top of the arch).
- NEW REHEARSAL OBSERVATION: Move it on with the violin 2/clarinet tune at B. Like you’re going for a walk with your love on a summer’s day. Upbeats much more in time. Same for 1sts at C.#
- Rehearse getting into D with the snare drum and setting the tempo from the outset/clarinet solo
- At E everyone can be super quiet, except those with the tune (Sarah and Caroline) and Laura on second flute, whose triplety accompaniment should almost be the loudest thing in the texture, observing the ben marcato e staccatissimo marking.
- Four before G, each two bar phrase holds up to the sf in the middle, with an exaggerated two quaver upbeat in the flute and clarinets into G itself. Rehearse 2nds’ resolution.
- G – only piano or pianissimo. Light as a feather!
- Four before I, same with the two bar phrases as above, but even more held back. Watching required. Likely that the last bar before I will be in six quavers to control the resolution in the horns (everyone with held notes please hold on!) and the upbeat into the come prima tempo.
- Fifth of K, the oboe solo is again a piacere with the horn and viola accompaniment controlled colla parte. Violas, I’ll show quavers for the end of your phrase in the pause bar. The only person who holds on right through to Chico’s entry is Michael on oboe. Otherwise (horns and violas) come off on the fifth quaver beat.
- Letter L, those counting rests be aware that I start beating after Chico’s cadenza bang on L, with the oboe solo coming off the second beat.
- From Chico’s quaver upbeats to the fourth bar before M, I’ll beat all the way through M (see below as to where) in quavers, initially colla parte with Chico. Third bar of M, just a short pause on the fifth quaver (some of you have the pause on the fourth quaver on a held note, but the pause actually happens on the fifth quaver). Straight back into tempo in two in the fourth bar.
- Fifth of M, violins your glissandi follow the ‘roller coaster’ arch pattern of the flute and clarinet (and also the harp this time) demisemiquavers. Watch and listen and we’ll be fine.
- NOTE TO SELF (please remind me) – We need to rehearse from N to the end just for confidence on Friday or Saturday, mapping it out a bit.
- Horn upbeats into two before O will be quavers, then carrying on in six quavers until the pause the bar before O, all the way to O itself which is back in two.
- Before P, violins and cellos play sul D if not comfortable (as per above) but do maintain the mezzo forte until the end of the phrase.
- Watch around P. Initially it will still be in two but calming down, such that I go into quavers at the end of the fourth bar for the cello entry. I’ll stay in quavers until the second beat of the fifth bar before the end, where everyone just needs to listen to Caroline’s quaver upbeats after my dotted minim upbeat, then staying in two to the end.
- Strings – watch for the very last pizz – big pair of glasses in your part, please!
4th movement – Festival in Baghdad. The sea. The ship breaks up against a cliff surmounted by a bronze horseman. Conclusion
- Opening in 1 – no beat in the GP pause bars. REHEARSAL NOTE – there was a major miscount in the run. Probably a one off but perhaps because people were counting in 2?
- Ninth bar, cellos and basses please come off with the harp chord if I forget to show it!
- Vivo – in one, but slow enough for me to theoretically beat it in two (I won’t, not least because different parts subdivide into 2 and 3 at different times).
- Rehearsal observation – always sacrifice a little volume for a lot more accuracy. For example, violins at letter B, use a very small amount of bow to be precise with the triplet semiquavers.
- Fourth of D – slightly held back for four bars. We’ll work on this in rehearsals to find a good tempo, but it’ll be nothing like as slow in some recordings. Snaps back into tempo for the next four bars then held back again for the next five bars. Same arrangement eighth bar of R for four bars.
- REHEARSAL NOTE – Watch out at G. Because it’s the material from the third movement, there’s an error trap for those holding bass notes to count the bars in two, instead of one, which means you hold them twice as long and don’t move when you need to. One beat per bar here!
- Before L and M – can we be more discplined with half bar offbeats?
- N – flute solo landing on 4th bar half beat then upbeat to 5th bar to start the semis on time.
- R – violas, a really clear downbeat to each bar and a bit less action on the demisemis so that the rhythm is clear.
- Sear the pause at the double bar just before the Piu stretto between V and W (29th of V, to be precise) into your brain (and mark it in your part, clearly). Nobody wants to be that person who bursts through it in the performance.
- Be careful with the piu stretto not to lose the accuracy in the excitement of getting faster. Tap into the four bar phrases so that we really start each one together. Be careful that the dynamic doesn’t creep up too quickly with each phrase (especially brass who are still only a relatively modest forte before W, with everyone else at fortissimo).It doesn’t need to push that much as the excitement comes from the tightness of the playing, rather than pushing the tempo too much. If it looks like I’m encouraging you to be more exciting, it’s not just to push the tempo!
- Please add a subito piano with exponential crescendo over the next five bars at the 24th of W (this is the bar before the snare drum comes in).
- Seventh of X – check horns 1/2 vs trombone 1 tuning and sound on chromatic notes (at proper sound).
- Fifth of Y rehearse clarinets and trumpets ‘4/4’
- Please mark a pair of glasses at the end of the sixth bar of Y. There’ll be a hold up so we can make the climax of the ‘shipwreck’ amazing. 2nd bassoon, cellos and basses, you’ll need to hold back your triplet quavers and sustain them to make them really heavy. Those with held notes I know you need a little break to really place the big downbeat and make it special, but beware coming off too early the note before.
- General confidence rehearsal on last few pages, especially Alla breve.
- The very last chord/pizz, I will bring the wind off with a left hand gesture before placing the downbeat. This allows the woodwind to breathe and not die. Beware mistaking the bring off gesture for the downbeat (which will be with the stick!). Only Chico and the timps bridge the gap between the penultimate and last bar.
Malcolm Arnold – Four Cornish Dances
- The first upbeat is the first bar (take a look at the video below), so the audible crotchet upbeat is for the second bar – important for those counting rests!
- Rehearsal observation – resist the temptation to play inexactly just because it’s very quiet, especially in the first violins where ‘fortissimo left hands’ are needed (and second violins later, etc.)
- Rehearsal observation – in the tune, play the triplets that fall on the first beat of the bar with a languid lean on the first note, with triplet as even as possible and certainly not rushed – it needs to be slower than you think and I’d rather it caught up with the second beat than arrived too early.
- Rehearsal observation, the hairpins always need to be a lot more pronounced than you think, especially when they’re on sustained notes. mp is much stronger than pp and needs lots of work to be really brought out.
- Rehearsal observation – try to really match phrase ends, breathing and phrase beginnings. Breathe and play as a section.
- Letter D – strings really separate out the syncopation (almost unmusically). This will help it be heard through the thick texture and give the music direction.
- Molto meno mosso – pair of glasses to watch for the downbeat, which will probably be slightly delayed.
- The metronome marking is probably a bit faster than we’ll take the 2/2 sections. More like minim = 88 (and certainly no faster than this). Same for the Vivace 6/8, which will be one in bar at dotted minim = 66ish. Maybe a little faster for the Presto at letter N but always in control. Don’t rush the fast notes!
- Four before P – don’t sweat the accelerando – it’s just back into the 2/2 tempo so focus more on accuracy and ensemble than trying to push.
- Just a little hold back on the final beat to place the final note and give the timpani semiquavers a chance to come through.
Florence Price – Colonial Dance
- Practice tempo – dotted minim = 78
- General observation – ignore the barlines! The last two beats of the bar, of course (it’s ‘in 3’ hierarchy of the bar ‘101’, right?) lead inexorably to the next bar. An example of where it’s easy to get this wrong is the two bar phrases in the wind at 17. In the first rehearsal, the last three quavers got bogged down in precision, rather than leading to the next downbeat.
- Start thinking about the poco rit. at 64 at about bar 62. Otherwise, it won’t happen as the bars/beats pass so quickly.
- CHANGE – As discussed in the second rehearsal weekend.We’re no longer doing any ritardando from bars 89-91, snapping back into tempo in bar 92. Just play nicely in time! Please still try to learn these few bars from memory, to aid awareness and watching.
- Violins – we’ve split so that the outsides take the pizz. (including leaving out the scale in 92) and insides take the bowed interjections from 93-108.
- Flutes, oboes, violins, play the scales from 131 slower than you think they ought to go. They have a tendency to rush. Everyone please bring out the 2+2+3 bar phrase pattern shown by the hairpins.
- 19/10 NEW – Horns – a note to ourselves to rehearse from 147-162 when we have the quartet together for confidence and ensemble on those little soli entries
- 19/10 NEW – I mentioned at the end of the run that we need to tidy up the hemiolas around 187. Remind me to look at this in rehearsal.
- We’re going to take time in 231 and 232, which is important even for those not counting to be aware that your rest counting needs to hang back for those two bars, too!
- 19/10 NEW – 243-246, everyone with minims on beats 2 and 3, fade off them to make little one bar phrases, making the crescendo through a little step up in sound each bar. It’s too sustained at the moment.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – Bamboula: Rhapsodic Dance
I know I promised to keep everyone guessing as to where this will push and pull in the first rehearsal. While I reserve the right to do this, I thought it might be useful to do a little mapping out of where everyone needs to have extra awareness.
- The easiest way to approach the scaley grace notes in the first bar is to take half a bar, just like they do 7 before A. I give a whole bar so it should be nice and clear where to start them.
- Minims tend to compute in our brains as long sustained notes, but they’re not always and certainly not in this tempo (they last just one beat!) when they have an accent on them. They need to be separate from the previous note and, depending on the articulation of the next note, separate from the next. Not a huge amount – just enough to make the accent. This wasn’t really a problem at the start with the brass, but we seemed to struggle to get this message through in other places (particularly 9th of F and similar passages).
- NEW 19/10 Some people are lingering on the pesante that leads out of the introduction into the main theme 14 before B. Whilst the articulation and weight of the notes can change (with the corresponding crescendo) there’s no change in speed there. And whatever happens, we must land on the a tempo downbeat all together, with only those playing on it (bassoons, timpani, cellos and basses) playing on it!
- NEW 19/10 First violins, please could we make more of the piano and subsequent crescendo 4 before B. In fact, we need to work harder at not playing the fast material a bland mezzo forte. There’s little difference between the first two bars of the a tempo before B and the two that follow (forte then mezzo forte). Dynamics across the board need to be brought out more.
- The performance markings either side of E (and later around O) are overdone in the recording below. We’ll observe the rallentandos and play largamente where marked, but without disrupting the tempo as much. I might show the odd crotchet beat but will never slow down as much to merit going ‘into 2’.
- Likewise, I don’t want us to get too hung up on other performance instructions, such as pesante and poco animato, in terms of tempo. I feel these are much more about our attitude towards how the music sounds and thus how we play it, rather than tempo indications. For example, after G we might luxuriate a little in the lush harmonies. The animato that follows is a cue to be more spritely!
- Four before F and fifth of F, violins and violas (and flutes for the latter), we worked in the first rehearsal on how important it is to get accurate pitches on the semiquavers wobbles, as well as rhythmic accuracy. These wobbles are the only thing that fill in the gaps in the harmony so we can’t get away with them ‘just being an effect’, at least on this occasion!
- NEW 19/10 – Syncopation in the strings in the bar before H is lovely and assertive/together, but we need now to keep the intent but make a pp sound as it’s pretty beefy at the moment.
- Letter H doesn’t want to be too slow. As above, tranquillo is not necessarily a tempo instruction. However, we do want the ppp syncopation in the violins and violas to be nice a separated, lengthening ever so slightly with the swells up and be coming more separate when getting quieter. We’ll enjoy pulling around the nice solo phrases. Accompaniment listen to the solo instruments as I work with them to achieve peak beauty! Occasionally the accompaniment moves forward or is held back on its own, so beware the ‘it’s quiet so I’ll concentrate less’ error. This bit is hard!
- NEW 19/10 – We’ll take a little bit more time on the upbeat to H.
- We’re going to use the rall. molto four bars before the piu mosso at the end of the piece to do a neat trick and not play the ending too fast. At the rall. molto I’ll go into two and really milk it. Back into 1 at the piu mosso but really not that fast (in fact, possibly even slightly slower than the main tempo we’ve been working at throughout the piece). That way we can make an appreciable accelerando to the piu presto without losing control. Then, the exception that proves the rule: we’re going to use the pesante marking to take a big breath across the two crotchet rests, holding back the upbeat to the fourth bar from the end and labouring the remaining crotchets leading to the final sff.
October 2023 – Recordings for familiarity