March 2015

This morning’s session, coming only a fortnight after the last, provided the ideal opportunity for students and tutors to revisit repertoire from February in far greater detail, as well as to explore the latter movements of those works for the first time. Mr Garfield Jackson of the Endellion Quartet joined us for the first time and leapt full flight into continuing work on Mendelssohn’s Octet.

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Ensemble togetherness was placed under the microscope, and rehearsed until precision was achieved. The Octet session also provided an opportunity for the pupils to have a first look at an Australian Chamber Orchestra arrangement of Janacek’s String Quartet No. 1 for string orchestra, in preparation for a collaboration with Trinity College’s orchestra on April 23rd (Concert @ 7pm, CP Hall, The Purcell School). Later our Octet split into their respective quartets and covered repertoire including Debussy’s String Quartet and Beethoven’s Op. 59 No. 2 ‘Razumovsky’ Quartet.

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Our Sextet this time had the experience of being coached from the Violin 1 seat, instead of the Viola. Balancing the thick texture and blend of sound were also topics for discussion. Learning how the dynamics in their part match those of their colleagues (if at all) and fit into Brahms’ overall picture is an essential part of this process.

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Now that pupils are more familiar with the format and repertoire, tutors are also relating more tips relating to the artistry of leading and playing: gestures and elements of motion (including posture) that are essential to the togetherness of each ensemble.

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Intonation was also under scrutiny in tutorials with the Jubilee Quartet tutors on Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor, and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet Op. 44, No. 1. Another quartet playing Mendelssohn and Beethoven are continuing to discover the true dynamic range and raft of colours available to them as a quartet – in the process discovering how to balance soloistic expression and sound without sacrificing ensemble-playing skills!

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Meanwhile, the rest of the school were gearing up for the Purcell School’s annual concerto competition. A marathon day for some of our participants who would then go on to compete in the afternoon!

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