Enesco Cantabile et Presto – Practical Guide
Ory’s Flute Tips
Enesco Cantabile et Presto – Practical Guide
I’ve decided to continue with my pieces and excerpts practical guides (which you can find all on my Blog) and concentrate this time on the famous Cantabile et Presto by Enesco.
As many of our pieces from that era (such as the pieces by Gaubert, Taffanel, Faure etc.), the Cantabile et Presto can show a lot of your control over the flute – tone colors, various dynamics in all registers, tone quality (especially in the low register), articulation lightness, fluid finger technique and more – and your musicality and creativity – through the use of expression with the vibrato, using a lot of rubato and serving the music written in the best way.
The piece of course contains various technical challenges and in this practical guide I’ll mention few ideas that I believe can help you with them, so let’s get started!
If you wish, you can find the notes for free through the Petrucci Music Library through this link.
The Cantabile – the beginning phrase exercise
The first phrase of the piece should be played quite generously with a good, healthy tone for the low register. Enesco write for us “expressif et lié” (expressive and connected) and we should be able to play so from the first note. The challenge comes with the big interval of Ab to low C – which should be as smooth as possible and with the same tone quality and color.
There’s a very small, yet important, difference in the air direction between these 2 notes and if you can manage to learn to control the change of direction, you’ll be able to play the low C without any problems. You can play a simple exercise to help you discovering the changes needed. You can listen to it here:
The idea here is to start with smaller intervals such as Ab-F and step by step to play bigger intervals (Ab-E, Ab-Eb, Ab-D, Ab-Db and finally Ab-C). With each step you should feel the changes in your air direction and your embouchure that controls the direction and eventually know exactly the position you need to reach for the low C. In addition, start changing the air direction already while you play the higher note (the Ab), so when you change your fingering, your embouchure is already ready for the low note.
Planning the vibrato and fitting it to the change of the note can help as well very much (you can read here my article about how to play intervals smoothly).
Become the flutist you wish to hear. Quickly and Efficiently.
The Cantabile – the ending
Another quite challenging and very often used in the french repertoire slow movements is last note – which is normally very high and extremely soft. It’s never easy to play nicely these notes, especially after playing the whole movement without almost any pause. Nevertheless, you should always anticipate the last note, and prepare your lips and your air pressure in advance, before you reach the last note.
In this piece, you can use the arpeggio just before the last note to help you increase gradually the air pressure as you play higher through the arpeggio and reach the high G with the right pressure needed.
If you are not sure how to control your air pressure, you can read my article rely on your air speed. This technique is extremely important to your playing and in my intensive masterclass it’s one of the very basics of flute playing I discuss and work with the students.
You can listen to me playing the last phrase. Notice if you manage to hear how I prepare the air pressure before I reach the last note:
The Presto – the beginning
The next challenge in the piece is the staccato passages in the low register. Your staccato should be clear, well separated, with a very focused tone quality. I’d recommend to use the same kind of articulation I recommend to use for the Scherzo by Mendelssohn (you can read about it and how to play it in one breath here).
For the octave drop from D2 to D1 you should prepare your embouchure in advance – similar to the technique I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this article for the Cantabile. Make sure you time well your left index finger – just a millisecond before you actually change the note. Make sure as well that you don’t rush with the articulation – the time between each staccato note should be very precise.
I choose to play the staccato with probably a different technique than what you are used to – I play them with air in my cheeks. My cheeks are actually moving with each staccato note. This technique allows you to have much more resonant articulation in all registers without loosing your tone color, dynamic and quality through the staccato passages. It’s an extremely useful technique which I teach all my students during their technique and sound daily class during their intensive masterclasses.