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Where to start with Andre Jolivet?

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#1 Ailema

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 14:00

I love the music of Andre Jolivet. The way he combines 20th-century harmony with jazzy sounds to create modern-sounding but accessible music is just incredible. His music sounds really hard, though!

 

So, my question is: which pieces are a good starting point?

 

Chant de Linos is my bucket list piece, basically. If I can ever get to the stage where I can play that to a performance standard, I will be happy with my level of flute playing. If I ever had to play a solo, I could play it. It would be my companion piece. Me and Chant de Linos could go to the cinema together on Sunday afternoons and stuff. This is a decision I've made in my head.

 

Aanyway - it's a hard LRSM piece, and I've just sat a DipABRSM with an as yet unknown level of success, so it's not a wildly unrealistic ambition. It will take a ###### of a lot of work, though. My teacher has suggested that if I want to learn that piece, I should prepare to put at least a year of proper, hard work into it.

 

Has anyone played this piece, or anything else by Jolivet? What were your impressions, and what were the hard bits?


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#2 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 15:11

Anything is possible if you work at it.

 

Its a beautiful piece of music. I know I am only a beginner myself. But am sure if you work at it you could get there. 


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#3 Ailema

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 15:31

I'm just a little concerned that if I try to learn it too soon, the whole thing will be an exercise in frustration because my technique isn't there yet.

 

On the other hand, sometimes you love a piece enough that you can keep coming back to it and improving every time, and one day you will arrive at a point where you can perform it.

 

I'm really tempted to just go and buy it. The music is £30 though...


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#4 Roseau

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 15:52

Just before Christmas my teacher got me to start a Jolivet piece for the oboe (the last movement of his Serenade for oboe and piano, "Marche Burlesque". It's 11m42s into this video: [post=http://www.youtube.c...h?v=50aBYvzf-lQ]Marche Burlesque[/post]. He calls it a challenge, I think it is impossible :ninja:
 
I'm not sure to what extent my experience so far and my teacher's tips are transferable from the flute to the oboe (and your piece has more slow lyrical passages than mine) but for what they're worth:
- With a new piece I usually play through the whole thing to get a feel for what it sounds like and to have an idea of which particular passages are going to require more work. The Jolivet piece has so many accidentals and grace notes (and is poorly printed) that I found it impossible to sight-read. I ended up spending several hours just studying the score away from the instrument to try and find some sort of pattern in it. (And there are indeed a lot of patterns once you get past the initial reading problems).
 
- My teacher told me that the most important thing initially is to practise very slowly and not to make any attempt to speed it up. (I am currently practising it at half speed). He assures me that if I follow his instructions then the day he tells me I am ready to play it fast I will have it up to speed within a week.
 
- His next piece of advice (still at half speed) is to practise it not only without the grace notes but also without anything shorter than a quaver (ie if it's semi-quavers I just play the first one and hold it until the semi-quaver passage has finished) so that a) I am absoutely sure where the beats come b) I put in the dynamics (and also the accents and the staccato) using my air stream (without being distracted by too many notes).
 
- He told me then to find all the bits that are shorter than a quaver and that have the same rhythm and to practise them one after the other with the metronome set to a quaver beat to make sure they are all identically rhythmically. I am also doing the same with the grace notes.
 
- He has told me not to attempt to put the "fast bits" back into the "framework" by myself although in my last lesson he first had me play the framework (still at half speed) while he added the "fast bits" and then let me try the whole thing with him playing with me (to make sure I didn't slow down when the fingering got awkward).
 
His other suggestion is, I think, oboe specific as it consists of just using the reed  to "play" the piece with the correct tonguing and dynamics (the pitch ought not to vary). I don't know if it is useful to do this with a flute head-joint. The idea is that with the reed you can't "cheat" with your air-stream as it is immedately obvious.
 
Good luck :)
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#5 Arundodonuts

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 17:37

I think I like your teacher.


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#6 AmateurSaxPlayer

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 17:57

Have you heard of the Poeme Symphonique, if you can make a symphony with 100 Metronome's ticking away, no piece of music is impossible. I am sure that if you put your mind to it, learn it line by line or even bar by bar, playing it over and over, drilling each bit into your head, you will get it. 


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#7 Yet another muso

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 20:42

I have a lot of experience with this piece. Like you, many years ago I decided it was my ultimate ambition. In my experience it is every bit as difficult as it sounds! Having said that, that only makes success taste all the better in the long run!

 

I made my first attempt whilst at music college, and performed it at a performance workshop. Whilst it was exciting to play, it is fair to say that for much of the piece I didn't manage to control it in performance.

 

From time to time after this, I got it out and tried to work on it, deciding that it was getting a bit better each time, then around 18 months ago (6 years after the first performance) I decided I was finally ready to take it on in public again, this time in a professional recital. It was the last piece before the interval. It still had a few rough moments, but by in large I felt I pulled it off and it felt amazing to finally do it.

 

So, in answer to your questions. Firstly, whether to buy it yet. This depends entirely on your philosophy. I think no harm in buying it to know your enemy, then keep revisiting it if it feels too much of a stretch at the moment.

 

In practising it, patience is the ultimate key. This will require more slow practise than just about any other piece. I remember having lessons with Ian Clarke on this piece, who said something like 'When learning music, you do all the careful learning of the notes, until the point where you know them and can rely on them. That is except with Chant de Linos, where no matter how much you practise, the notes always seem to be just out of reach' Not trying to put you off, just an idea of the long road to learning it! Also, Chant de Linos is an exciting and adrenaline filled piece. As such, I always practised feeling as calm unexcited as possible when playing to counteract this, so when the adrenaline kicks in during performance, you have a chance of maintaining control. Furthermore, I always tried to concentrate on the beauty of the tone, as it is all to easy to end up playing aggressively with little quality. Rhythm is the most vital aspect to the piece, especially in relating to the piano. Personally, I found it very useful to work out some cheat fingerings on a few of the nastiest runs. If you get stuck into learning it, drop me a message and I can share some with you.

 

Also, if you're interested in Jolivet, do you know the Incantations for Solo Flute? They're worth a look. Also I'm doing the Sonatine for Flute and Clarinet at the moment which is great fun. Not as tough as Chant de Linos!

 

Funnily enough Chant de Linos is back in my life now as I'm accompanying it for the first time soon. Learning the piano part has also been quite a project, but very satisfying to get to know the piece from that side. Now I understand the bits where I gave my pianist a hard time!


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#8 Roseau

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 21:36

 

I think I like your teacher.

Why? (Or is it ironic?)
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#9 Arundodonuts

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 22:23

 

I think I like your teacher.

Why? (Or is it ironic?)

 

I meant it. Utterly logical and exactly what we all know we should do and often don't have the patience for.


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#10 Roseau

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 22:36

 

I think I like your teacher.

Why? (Or is it ironic?)

I meant it. Utterly logical and exactly what we all know we should do and often don't have the patience for.

The piece is so impossibly difficult that it is not so much a question of having the patience to do all this but of being unable to do anything else. For the time being, however, it is not very satisfying musically and my teacher has told me to play other things "for fun" alongside it.
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#11 Ailema

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 21:30

Very belated thank you to Roseau and Yet Another Muso for your advice! Some really useful tips in there :-) 

 

My teacher said he thought now would be a good time to start learning Chant de Linos, so I've bought the music and am very slowly starting to pick my way through it. Boy, that's a lot of notes! Nonetheless, little by little...


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