i love this concerto so much and wished to play it, i play
It certainly does test one’s endurance. When you know it securely, you should be able to play the notes more easily and increase the tempo then. Composer’s tempos are what they hear in their head, and minus the acoustics and effort. So, shaving 20 numbers is quite normal. I believe the left hand under the trill is played by the strings, so you don’t need to duplicate that. A two-handed trill is the only trill on the harp that sounds like a trill should sound, except for a four-note trill. The ornaments should be played on the beat and beginning on the upper auxiliary, ie. not as written, but in the baroque-classical manner. The piece is all melody, and needs to sing just as a lyric soprano or coloratura would. The left hand does not have enough to do for my taste. The orchestration is simple but exciting. It is a very energetic piece. The Dussek concertos are a finer alternative, if one is needed.
i am interested too to know some history about this concerto, i got only short information that the concert was composed in 1800 and was published in 1803, i dont know if Boieldieu played the harp himself or not and if he composed the concerto especially to be played on the harp or Clavicine or Piano, and to whom was dedicated and who is the first player of it?
the Rensch book claims he was not a harpist but a composer
she also says harpist theodor Labarre who taught harp at the paris conservatory studied composition with him
she also says he used harp harmonics in his opera in 1825 la dame blanche
Zingel gives his dates (1775-1834) and says he wrote a lot for harp but we don’t play it anymore
you can also buy a harp and horn piece by him
pretty sure it was composed for harp not something else
if i will play the opening trill both hands without the thirds in the left so how can it be heard? the piano score i have dosent play with the trill, and i bought the quartet score by Bob litterel and in this place said that the 1st and 2nd violins play the thirds only if the harp dosent play it.
Boieldieu was a very well-known and successful opera composer. He was not a harpist-composer, but he did write quite a few pieces using harp.
I suggest that you get a book on ornamentation, Mr. S. The most comprehensive reference is by Frederick Neumann, and it covers ornamentation in each period and style of baroque and classical music. Most editions from the years 1850 or so to 1990 or so print the ornaments incorrectly. They write appoggiaturas as grace notes before the beat, the first note of trills is written before the beat, but even if you simply read the Saint-Saens edition of the works of Rameau, I believe you will find by reading the introduction, that no matter how the notes are placed on the page, an ornament takes its rhythmic value from the following note, which means it begins ON the beat, and if it is coming from a higher note, it begins with the note above the melody note, not the melody note, with some exceptions.
Bochsa explains it clearly in the Universal Method, which also shows how late in the 19th century ornaments were still played ON the beat with the UPPER auxiliary note starting, ie. DCDC for a trill marked on a C, not CDCDC.
The two ornaments that seem to occur between the notes are a turn, and what I am currently calling a liaison, such as playing AB between a written G and a following C. This occurs in Gluck, for example. Turns are common enough.
Another good reference is the book by CPE Bach, the Art of Continuo Playing, which is also rather entertaining to read.
ALL harpists who play anything written before the 20th century must learn at least the basic rules of reading and playing ornaments to play music of those periods. If they do not, they will not sound literate to any musician or music lover who understands baroque and classical music, and I would not want to be in that position.
The only exception I would make to that rule is if you are playing a transcription by Renie, Grandjany or Salzedo, in which case you should do as they have written. But better to learn to make your own transcription, then, with proper ornamentation and registration. Many of Salzedo’s transcriptions do have correct ornamentation, depending on when he made them. The early French editions of the 20th century engraved ornaments in a misleading way, putting all the notes before the beat, even though the introduction says to begin the ornament on the beat.
There have been other threads on this subject. I think every conservatory should be teaching this to their students. To not know the difference between ornaments is to not understand the music very well. They have purpose and function, and are not mere decorations.
This is not an organized lecture on the subject, but I hope a spur to do one’s own investigations.
As for the opening of the Boieldieu, since we do not have an urtext edition, it is hard to say if the turn leading into the trill should begin on the beat or just before. What is more rhythmic? If you do it before, keep the beat that has been established. I think the first two notes should be played just before so the trill begins on the upper auxiliary on the beat with an accent. If you are doing a one-handed trill for some reason, then starting the whole thing on the beat will reduce the number of beats/alternations that you have to put in the trill.
Why I don’t like a one-handed trill: it lacks the freedom, flow, brilliance and flexibility of a keyboard trill or one on most other instruments. I have not heard many harpists who could do one that well, and I find it physically risky. A two-handed trill, on the other “hand” allows for complete freedom of execution. One may vary the speed, the tempo, the number of beats/alternations, the dynamics, the texture, the reverberance, all those wonderful things, and I am known for my trills, if I may say so.
Some music where trills should start on the upper note on the beat: Handel, Bach, Scarlatti, Dussek, Spohr, Naderman, Bochsa and others of those periods. A triple meter piece such as a rondo may be an exception, in which a “snap” is called for; in that case you play a very short grace note with a strong accent on the melody note. For Parish-Alvars and later, you might start on the beat with the melody note or some other arrangement.
With 20th Century composers who are writing in a classical style, it is tricky. I look at the musical function. Is the trill there for dissonance and accent? Then on the beat with the upper note. Is it there for melodic decoration? Then on the beat with the melody. What are the other instruments doing? In Halffter’s Sonatina, there are different ornaments happening in different instruments, so the conductor should coordinate everyone for unity.
I suspect that the thirds were handed over to the strings early on because many people can’t play a one handed trill. Not well anyway. Jana is the queen of the one handed trill. I’d love to hear her play that.
I mentioned in another thread, an old one about one handed trills, that even Xavier deMaistre told me he can’t play a one handed trill and yet he won the U.S.A. competition with the Boieldieu. His “cheat” was to strum the strings in a 22332233 fingering. He demonstrated it for me and it was gorgeous.
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