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Gilliver: Hello, and welcome
to the YouTube Symphony Orchestra
masterclass for the cello.
My name's Rebecca Gilliver, and I play principal cello
in the London Symphony Orchestra.
We're going to start with "William Tell,"
because it does usually start a concert,
which is certainly a rather scary moment
for any principal cello.
You start completely alone,
and the first two bars, it's just you,
but relax, 'cause on the third bar,
there's a lovely choir of your colleagues
as all the other cellos come in
and play a beautiful harmony with you.
So although in an audition situation,
you feel incredibly lonely on those top Bs,
you just need to think of the harmony
that's gonna be coming in behind you
when you're actually playing it in concert,
and that'll inspire you and give you courage.
So I'll just play the beginning all by myself.
[Rossini's "William Tell Overture"]
Now, because we haven't got much time,
I'm not gonna play all through those Bs,
but in an audition situation, you must,
and you must make sure they're exactly the right length
and a beautiful sound all the way through.
So, skipping to the third entry
of the first cello,
there's a lovely moment here,
because the third cello plays this line.
and then you get to come in...
and that's where everybody else comes in.
Now, these three G-Sharps keep coming back.
They come back four times.
Now, those G-sharps come back four times,
and each time, there's a different harmony
in the other cellos, so you must choose a color
that fits the harmony they're doing.
The first time, it's just a beautiful...
The second one, and it's a bit different...
so the harmony's a bit more involved.
The third one is marked "pianissimo,"
and the harmony is even more beautiful.
And finally, the last one.
So each time you play those G-sharps,
you've got to hear those harmonies in your head
and create a color, any color you like,
that's gonna fit those harmonies.
Okay, the trills--again, I'm not gonna play them now
because we don't have time, but again,
in an audition situation, play them right through.
Don't cut a beat.
And finally, it's that shift at the end
that brings out a bead of sweat
on any principal's forehead.
Um, I played it once
with the World Orchestra for Peace,
and the cellist there was Sandro Laffranchini,
who is the principal cello in La Scala,
and he must have played it about ten times
in rehearsals and concerts, and every time,
he hit that top shift absolutely perfectly.
And I was so impressed, I asked him,
"What's your secret, Sandro?"
And he had a little think, and he said,
"Just before the shift,
I think about something else completely."
And there's a lot to be said about that.
If you sit there, worrying about
where your hand is going to go...
Okay, it might work, but if you're really worried about it,
it might not.
So do the practice.
You need to practice that shift
until the cows come home,
and then, when it comes to it,
maybe think about your bow, or just the music itself,
and don't worry about the shift.
If you miss it, it's not the end of the world,
although it might feel like it to you.
Brahms' Second Symphony, the second movement,
the wonderful cello solely.
This excerpt is used all the time by the LSO.
We use it for every single audition for rank and file,
and the reasons behind this is,
it shows a huge amount about your playing,
both mentally and technically and emotionally.
I always approach the piece with the same two questions.
Firstly, what did Brahms mean by "poco forte"?
It's definitely a rather ambiguous marking,
and Brahms uses it quite a lot.
Offhand, I'm not sure if anyone else does,
but perhaps someone on YouTube can let me know if they do,
and then I'll stand corrected.
Anyway, what does it mean?
It's not forte, obviously.
It's not a big, brash forte sound.
Equally, it's not piano,
and it's not that kind of compromised mezzo forte either.
I think maybe the key is in the espressivo marking,
which comes afterwards.
The character needs to be--
it has to have real intentional expression behind it,
and I can imagine Brahms agonizing
how to describe what he wanted,
and therefore, so should we as we approach the piece.
This leads me to another question,
which is what bowing to do.
And when you come to an audition,
you may well have bowing marked in the part.
It's always best to do the bowings there.
But you also need to be flexible.
The LSO parts have been changed so many times,
the notes have almost been rubbed out.
Um, today I'm splitting the bowing,
which is a little compromise,
but for me, it gives a better sound.
Um, the most important thing,
I think, in this piece, is the sound.
You don't ever get a squashed, hard sound,
but an incredibly warm and, um, what's the word I want?
Kind of supported warm tone.
I'm just gonna play the beginning.
Of course, you could also do it
if it was a slightly faster tempo
with just the single bowing.
It's really worth practicing all on one bow,
split bowing, some bowings long, some split.
Just be flexible.
Okay, the difficult thing, maybe technically, about this
is the shift up to the B.
Make sure your hand is really prepared
for that top B.
And that when you get there,
your left hand is really balanced on the note,
and you can give it a nice...
It's really worth just practicing
where you want to be on the cello...
before you worry about how you're gonna get there,
so that you know that's the position you want to be in.
So the quavers in bar three are quite different
to those in bar six.
Obviously, it's poco forte in bar three,
and bar six is piano,
so it's a big expressive difference.
But also, bar three is parlando.
whereas, in bar six, it's very, very legato...
so that your bow is really, really smooth.
As with the bowings,
your fingerings are your own choice.
You can decide whether to shift up and down the string
or just go across.
It's very much your own choice.
Personally, I quite like going across quite a lot
in this piece, 'cause I find the intervals are more telling,
but it's nice, also, to be expressive,
and have the odd, um, the odd slide or shift in.
Okay, well, I'm just gonna play the piece now.
Um, another very important thing about it,
in that it feels like one huge, long phrase,
so I'm gonna try and do that.
So that brings us to the end of this masterclass.
I hope you've enjoyed it
and that you take something useful away from it.
Good luck for your audition.
I look forward to hearing them all,
and I hope you enjoy the process.