• Meghan Lyda

ILMEA Cello Audition Guide: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

Welcome to part 4 of my Junior ILMEA 2020 cello audition guide!

Today we’ll be learning how to play the next ILMEA cello audition excerpts, which are from the First Movement of Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 by J.S. Bach.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, First Movement, Bach arr. Isaac, M. 33-40 M. 53 to the downbeat of m. 61, Half note = 92

General notes:

  • 2 excerpts: At first glance, this looks like one excerpt, but make sure you notice the cesura at the end of measure 40! There is a break, and then we start the second excerpt at m. 53

  • Practice with a metronome, starting at half note = 60 and eventually half note = 92

  • Bow stroke for 8th notes: use brush stroke from the balance point to the middle of the bow, using a combination of the upper and lower arm.

  • Bow stroke for quarter notes: use a brushy stroke with a slight decay, with separation between the notes.

Excerpt 1

M. 33 - 35

  • Left hand: begin in 2nd position with a low 1st finger extension for F natural

  • Left hand: use a tuner or check your intonation with open strings. Check F with open A, G with open G, and A with open A.

M. 36

  • Left hand: no extension for the C#

M. 37

  • Left hand: return to extended hand position: make sure there is a whole step between 1st and 2nd finger.

Excerpt 2

M. 53, 55, and 57

  • Bow distribution: Spend bow on the down bow, and save bow on the first up bow. Do a small retake during the rest if necessary.

  • String crossings: anticipate the string crossings with your right arm.

M. 54-55

  • Coordination: On the last note of m. 54, release 4th finger quickly to get from G to C natural on time. Make sure your bow hand is not rushing your left hand.

M. 56

  • Left hand: make a small shift from E to F (only a half step). Make a big extension from 1 on F natural to 2 on G natural. Shift from 2nd position to 1st position for the last note of the measure.

  • Coordination: If you feel like you’re not shifting fast enough, make sure your bow hand is not rushing your left hand.

M. 59-61

  • Sound production: use a slightly heavier bow on the G string. It will help your sound and it will create a darker tone, which the music might call for here, since we have reached a new key.

  • Bow distribution: use the same bow speed for each note. It’s tempting to use a faster bow on the eighth notes.

Listen to this recording for inspiration! What moods or characters are the performers presenting? Can you hear their short and brushy bow strokes?


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