We’ve arrived at our final excerpt, La Mer by Debussy. After this week we begin putting all the pieces together, armed with detailed knowledge of all the styles required for this audition. First take a look at Pierre Boulez conducting this excerpt with the New York Philharmonic (go to 13:43 for the start of our excerpt):
In this performance, he’s asked for a few bow strokes that are different from ones that I recommend, but the effect is similarly thrilling and magnificent. In contrast, the “solo violin” version may seem dull! Not to mention the marked difference in the Philharmonic’s surroundings and my own, below… But it’s our job to find the character nonetheless, while navigating the considerable technical challenges posed by Debussy. I can help:
As with all the other excerpts in the Challenge, we’ll take a second look before too long. So don’t worry about perfection just yet. It’s enough to grapple with the challenges and to come up with your plan for the excerpt. This is one that can’t really be formed “on the spot”. You have to have a plan and enough experience executing it that it becomes second nature in performance. That will come in the space of a few weeks if it’s not there yet!
It would be a good idea, while you’re learning the Debussy this week, to gear up for our second looks at the other excerpts. Next week we’ll talk about the “choreography” required to start each one. So pay special attention to how you go from a resting position at the music stand to the first few seconds of each selection. That knowledge will be crucial as you rehearse for the audition itself.
In addition, mark just one or two spots in each excerpt that still need technical polishing. Go through those 10-12 spots each day this week, at a comfortable tempo and with your best sound. Don’t worry about getting them “up to speed” yet. This is your time to increase your comfort level with those formerly tricky corners. You’ll integrate them into the whole between now and Week 0.
Week 6 Assignment
A complete take of the Debussy. Believe me, that’s enough!