A General Update

Goodness! It has been a while since my last post! Yet not too much has happened…

I taught myself the first movement of the first Bach cello suite over the holidays, which sits nicely with my third suite repertoire. James has encouraged me to enter the Aisa Pacific Competitions with Popper Gavotte, a grade 7/8 piece which I taught myself in year seven (three years ago) and have been picking up again well. Next weekend I shall be performing Fauré’s Apres un Rêve at a student recital. It shall be my first with my new teacher (aside from the one I played at with my Grieg Trio earlier this year), rather exciting as I have no clue who his other students even are! I haven’t met a single one. I got a kitten! (Rather off topic, but necessary to add!) Her name is Clara, like both Clara Schumann and Clara Oswald, and she’s a lilac-tortie Tonkinese.

I got a kitten! (Rather off topic, but necessary to add, seeing as she’s the feature image of this entry and is threatening to jump on my keyboard!) Her name is Clara, like both Clara Schumann and Clara Oswald, and she’s a lilac-tortie Tonkinese.

Aside from that… I went to Takacs Quartet the other night for my birthday present from my parents! More on that very, very shortly.


My New Teacher

Eight days after my first proper lesson I write this. Apologies. I have been exceptionally busy and, over the past few days, unwell.

The lesson was lovely! We spent a whole hour on scales and practice techniques (the main difference being to focus on the “slide-stop” technique as opposed to the “stop-place”.) For scales, I have new, logical fingering for my dominant sevenths, which will allow for me to play any dominant seventh in any key without music as well as support me to do three octave (and beyond) dominant sevenths next year and in the future.

The next hour (and I think that it is an appropriate time to mention that the lesson was only supposed to be one hour, yet he just kept generously teaching!) was spent working on the Fauré. He played chords on his cello, which was essentially the piano accompaniment, while I played. At first, it was off-putting, but as I listened to the chord changes, it became apparent that they were an indicator to the important notes in the piece. It was fun! We also talked about how Fauré’s Après un rêve was originally for singers, consequently discussing the timbre of the two instruments (cello and voice) and how fingering could be altered to respect the composer’s intended feel (such as going up the D string in the very beginning.) This also relates to the translation of the title: “After a Dream.”

I have been experimenting a little with the relationship between the placement of the bow, bow speed and pressure to get different types of beautiful sound. I’ve also been reading a little about Fournier’s technique and views on music. And Jacqueline du Pré! And Romberg!

Goodness! I did write so much in my cello logbook in the car on the way home!


A New Teacher

Well, dear readers, I have exciting news!

Tomorrow, I shall be meeting my new cello teacher! My father is moving down south later this year, so I shall be taught by a cellist from the APO. Apparently, he attended both my most recent competition (the North Shore Comps) as well as the Grieg Piano Trio performance!

I am rather nervous, and shall play the first Bach Bourree from the third suite and, perhaps, Fauré’s Après un Rêve.

That is all for tonight; I shall keep you posted.

– Phoebe P

Concerts, News

Grieg Trio – First Performance!

Hello readers!

After a lot of rehearsing, we had our first performance of the Grieg Piano Trio!

It went rather well; and was such fun! The pianist sneezed mid-way through the first page of the piece, causing the violinist and me to giggle – quite a lot!

Although we all had our bought of little mistakes, it really helped us find out what parts to focus on for Friday’s rehearsal (with a new, well-known tutor!)

For the strings: sustaining the sound through the whole note, looking and chords/double-stops

For me: Solos – ensuring that I have all of the bowing and fingering sorted! Also, expression and the feel of the first page…

– Phoebe P

Concerts, News

Two Recitals and a Competition

Hello Readers!

I do apologise, I left this a bit late… however, here it is: an account of the week.

The first recital was a learning curve. Yes – I do suppose you know what those italics mean. I had nerves, so decided to ensure that I really was familiar with the piano part. I listened and played along with the CD. Now, at the time, this seemed like a rather sensible thing to do, yet the recording is unfathomably fast for the character and style of Latin For Alex…

I was on stage. Joy, the pianist, began to play. I stopped her. It was the tempo we had agreed on in the previous rehearsal, yet still so much slower than in the recording I had been listening to the previous hour. It unnerved me. I adjusted the speed. And. We. Were. Off! As fast as I could go! A stunning performance, technique-wise, yet a drab, unfeeling performance expressive-wise. I am very glad to say that my uninformed and mislead ideas regarding the tempo were doctored later that evening – with yet another rehearsal.

These were paid off the next night at the second recital (a surprise invitation from my old cello teacher – so kind). “She played like an angel!” She sighed to my father… yet not like an angel enough, according to Mr. Adjudicator the next day; but now I’m getting ahead of myself!

To follow on from the previous, evidently rather put-out last statement: despite my great leap in playing and musical high I was on the previous evening, the results of the competition did not reflect my own opinions and evaluation of my playing that day, nor did it mirror my parents’ ideas. I personally felt that the adjudicator’s (a concert pianist) speech contradicted a few the top three performers in each age group of the string category… yet that is just me, and half of my mind is telling me that this is no way to speak. So, I have spent the past few evenings emotionally trialed and have only recently spoken the conclusion that was, actually, in my head all along: not everyone totally agrees with the judge, for we all have different opinions; different marking criteria. Pooh. Harrumph. At least I got something… and a relatively good mark. Pah.

Well, that was an obsessively chatty entry… shall write again anon.

– Phoebe P

Concerts, News

First Cello Recital of the Year

Hello readers!

Tomorrow, I shall be playing in a cello recital. Just a small one, with a group of other young cellists who, like me, shall be performing in the South Auckland Competitions sometime this week (I’m playing on the 20th – shall keep you updated!).

As the concert is for performance practice in preparation for the competition, we’ll be playing the same piece that we shall be performing for the adjudicators later on. In my case, Latin For Alex (also known as Alexander’s Latin) by Walter Haberl; a snazzy piece, one with a vast amount of character! I’ll be playing it by memory… something of which I was initially apprehensive to do as the piece is full of little alterations and variations in the main, reoccurring theme. I was fretting that I’d learn it incorrectly if I were not to look at the music! Much to my great surprise and favour, I picked up on every single little tiny mistake I made and fixed it the first few times I practiced it by memory! This really delighted me.

In the recital tomorrow, I’ll be playing with the same pianist who has helped and accompanied me these past, perhaps, two years. She is a marvelous musician (and person) and, although I have only had one half-hour rehearsal with her, I feel well prepared. As my piece, Latin For Alex, is in list C of the Grade 7 ABRSM syllabus, I have been using the piano accompaniment from the CD in my practice. This has been an immense help as it meant that I didn’t need to dally about, learning how my part fitted with the piano, but spent my half-hour effectively, by “getting into the groove” of the music.

I shall keep you all posted!

– Phoebe P


First Mendelssohn Trio Rehearsal

Oh! How exciting! I have been waiting with great anticipation and excitement for this trio practice! And it was fun!

Already I have noticed that there is such a contrast between the two piano trios that I am playing with. With the Mendelssohn,  the tempo is presently everywhere and, as the music is still quite new to us, there are passages that seem to loose the sense of direction, of the beat. Our strengths and weaknesses are so different in the Dumky Trio, though it is all so new I can scarcely pin-point specifics. I promise to keep you all updated.

-Phoebe P