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Mozart Flute Concerto in D Major Opening Phrase Practical Guide

by | Oct 15, 2018 | Ory's Tips | 2 comments

Ory’s Flute Tips

Mozart Flute Concerto in D Major Opening Phrase Practical Guide

 

Both of the Mozart concerti have been definitely the most played pieces by the participants in my intensive masterclasses. There’s no wonder – they are asked for every audition, entrance exams for schools/universities and they are a great way to evaluate the skills, musicality and style understanding of the flutist.

Earlier I have already written my guide for the G Major opening phrase, and now it’s the turn of the D Major concerto.

If you haven’t done it yet, you can as well listen and download for FREE my cadenza for the D Major first movement.

👊 Knock out the jury with your long high D

Here’s a true remark I’ve got from the jury after an audition I took: “You had the best high D!”.

Unfortunately (or fortunately!) the D major concerto starts with not the most comfortable trill and scale, followed by a 4 measure long high D. That’s the first thing the jury is going to hear from you and it’s your duty to impress them with it. If you manage to achieve that, you’ll gain their positive attitude from the first moment they hear you.

I’ll refer to the scale and trill later and would like to concentrate first on the long D. Since the note lasts for so long, you’ll absolutely have to do something with it. You’ll have to change from playing the solo in the first bar to accompanying the orchestra and taking the lead again towards the end of the note. You’ll be able to show the jury your dynamic range and your ability to use your vibrato in various ways (from non vibrato, through slow and quick vibrato). It’s actually quite amazing how much information you can convey to the jury with only one single note.

So how can you achieve that? Here are my recommendations:

Mozart D Major flute concerto Opening With Instructions

As you can see in the notes, I’ve marked both the dynamics changes and the vibrato changes. You should start using your vibrato earlier than the crescendo in order not to overcome the orchestra too early but yet give life to the long note. Play your vibrato slow at the beginning of bar 3 and make an accelerando of the vibrato gradually from slow to quick during the 2 last bars of the high D.

General tip: You should learn and be able to control your vibrato separately from your dynamics. Adding a vibrato on a certain note doesn’t mean that that note should become suddenly louder (that is unfortunately the case with many flutists).

About the dynamics: Originally there are no dynamic markings at all. I’ve added mf, f and p just to mark the progress of the phrase but these are not really steps of dynamics in this case. I would prefer to think about a tone quality that is full, rich and projects well rather than mf or f.

 

Playing Mozart is easy, when you know exactly what to do...

Participate in your own intensive masterclass and make it easy!
 

🔝 What to do with the trill and the scale?

Do you manage to play the scale with a well focused tone quality? If you often don’t, have you ever considered why?

The combination of the trill and the C# after (a note in which you don’t use any finger) creates a stability problem for your flute. The finger movements of the trill make the flute move slightly and we all know that the C# is rather not the easiest note to hold – as you use only the right hand pinky to play the note and hold the flute with it.

Therefore, when I play these bars I make sure the flute is well attached to my chin (shouldn’t be though too hard) to stabilize the flute during the trill and in addition, I’ll choose to play the C# with a different fingering which is more stable and won’t allow the flute to move that much.

For the C# you can use one of these 3 fingerings (personally, I use the 3rd option, which I find the most comfortable after the trill) :

Mozart D Major concerto C# alternative fingering

Mozart D Major concerto C# alternative fingering

Mozart D Major concerto C# alternative fingering

In addition, make sure the very first note of the piece (the middle D) is extremely focused and full. If the D is not well focused, the chances are that also the rest of the phrase is not going to have a focused tone and it will be much harder for you to re-focus it after you’ve already started playing.

To achieve that you can practice only the D few times. Play few short D slowly (with the note length as what you would play when playing the piece) and concentrate where in your embouchure hole you direct the air to and try to get the best tone quality possible. Notice as well how do you hold your lips muscles in order to achieve that. Only when you know exactly how physically it feels, you’ll be able to recreated that feeling every time you start playing the phrase.

 

🎵 How long should the notes be played?

I’ve had once a masterclass with the early music specialist flutist Barthold Kuijken and I played for him the concerto. He insisted that each note written should be played much shorter – the half of the value of what’s written. Although it is supported by documents and books from the period, I find it to be a bit extreme – and unless you audition for an early music ensemble or school department, I’d choose not to play it that short.

Nevertheless, the notes which are not slurred must be played always separately and somehow shorter than the values written. Bell-notes would provide here the best solution and I would highly recommend you to master them (read here my article about articulatory silences and Bell-notes).

 

Feel free to leave your comments,
Ory

Ory Schneor is a principal flutist with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, Tongyeong Festival Orchestra and member of the Geneva Camerata. He is teaching masterclasses around the world and he is the founder and instructor at FLUTEinWIEN

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