North Bridge Flute Academy


GRADE 5

Fauré – Berceuse
Oginski – Polonaise
Fauré – Sicilienne
Telemann – Sonata in F
Marais – Le Basque
Quantz – Sonata in E minor – Vivace
Delibes – Morceau de Concours

GRADE 6

Telemann - Air L'italiene
Donjon – Pan
Fauré – Morceau de Concours
Hoffmeister – Sonata in G – 1st Mvt, Allegro Assai
Gaubert – Madrigal
Rabboni - Sonata (No. 3) in E
CPE Bach – Sonata in E minor Mvt 2, Allegro
Rabboni – Sonata (No. 8) in C
Gossec – Tambourin

GRADE 7

Rabboni – Sonata (No. 7) in F
Roussel – Mr. de la Pejaudie

GRADE 8

Roussel – Pan



 

GRADE 7, Lesson #1
Performance Video: Rabboni – Sonata No. 7 in F


         
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GRADE 7, Lesson #1
Teaching Notes Video: Rabboni – Sonata No. 7 in F

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About RABBONI – SONATA NO. 7 IN f

The 42 Sonatas by Giuseppe Rabboni are stylish postcards taken from the world of opera in 19th century Italy. Having spent 30 years as the Principal Flute at La Scala, Milan, Rabboni would have performed the operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and towards the end of his life, Verdi, often with the composers themselves conducting the works. It must have been an incredible time to have been a musician in Italy!

The 42 Sonatas mostly alternate between fast and slow. In the fast examples, we are given technical challenges, that focus mainly on our finger-work and then in the slower movements, the concentration is on both our sound and the ability to shape phrases. There is so much to be gained from working on this treasure trove of material.

In this elegant Sonata, the emphasis is on finger control with repeated patterns (as in Bars 1, 5 and 9) and arpeggios (as in Bars 3, 11, 13 and 14).

If we are to have good technical control, we need to work on muscular independence in all of our fingers. It is a well-known fact that the fourth and fifth fingers in both hands are notoriously weaker than the others, thus requiring even more dedicated attention.

There are numerous tomes written for pianists and string players to work on these unruly fingers, but apart from some extremely dull and distinctly unmusical exercise books, there is very little material available for flute players to help strengthen these fingers.

The scale passages in this Sonata will be easier to negociate than the arpeggio sequences. This is due to the fact that the air activity within the tube of the flute is less dynamic and more smooth when playing scales (the next note up or down ‘speaker’ hole is close by), than when playing arpeggios (where the distance between each ‘speaker’ hole is much greater). Therefore, to play arpeggios smoothly and to properly connect the notes, we need to make sure that our air is even more active than when playing scales, to compensate for what is intrinsically a flaw in the instrument.

HOW TO WORK ON THE SONATA

It would be very easy and in many ways not incorrect to break this piece up into two bar phrases. The first bar most definitely leads to the second bar and the third bar to the fourth. However, an increase in energy is also implied all the way through to the beginning of Bar 3, making the first four bars one phrase with a few hills and valleys thrown in!

In Bar 1, our fingers need to work smoothly both up and down. Repeated note patterns are a good system for strengthening our fingers and I like to practice my scales in this way. For an extended finger workout, you might like to take a look at the Simply Flute Daily Exercises, Volume 1, Finger Gym 1, available to download for a small fee at: https://www.simplyflute.com/publications/product/simply-flute-daily-exercises-volume-1/

In Bar 15 we are presented with the challenge of scales in thirds. It will be necessary to make a crescendo throughout this bar as the notes descend into an increasingly less audible register of the flute. As a crescendo necessitates a quicker air stream, to avoid splitting notes upwards to the next harmonic, it will be beneficial to gradually bring the air column down throughout the bar. However, this movement is more of a thought than something that is clearly visible.

Likewise, the reverse is true in Bar 19, when the scales in thirds ascend into a more audible part of the flute.

Make sure that with the grace notes from Bar 31 through to Bar 34 you really make each and every one of those ‘small’ notes sound or ring. As the air within the tube of the flute is being adjusted extremely rapidly, your air pressure needs to be more active. We need to play through these groups of three and four swiftly passing notes.

Staccato in Bar 35 does most definitely not mean ‘short’ in this context. When I see the word staccato or the dot immediately above a note I see an instruction that is telling me to play these notes with musical character. In the space of two bars, Rabboni writes 24 notes that to the naked eye all look the same. However, should they really all be the same length? If they were, the phrase would lack direction. My natural inclination would be to make the notes at the beginning of beats one and three slightly longer, or heavier, with the three notes that constitute beat four gradually getting longer still, as they are something close to an upbeat to the next bar.

In Bar 49, even though it is not marked, it would make musical sense to pull up slightly in the fourth beat as preparation for the cadenza in Bar 50.

The cadenza itself should be played with warmth, shape and above all, style! This is most definitely not to be rushed. After all, in the entire piece, it is the only moment when you are truly on your own, so make the most of it! You might like to make a decrescendo on the way up to the middle of the bar and then a crescendo on the way back down, before the printed diminuendo over the last two notes.

Bar 63 is perhaps the most complicated bar of the Sonata for the fourth finger left hand, which will be naturally reluctant to engage in the quickly moving activities of the first three beats.

Once again, the Simply Flute Daily Exercises will come to your aid here. Most important is to work on this kind of detail slowly. We can’t run before we can walk, so take your time and gently encourage this finger to do as asked.

In Bar 73, the top F on the second beat could sound shrill. In a louder passage such as this, I would automatically ‘fork’ the F by adding the fourth finger key in the right hand. This not only helps with intonation, but it also has a more appealing timbre.

The top F in Bar 75 should not be forced in any way. To help with this, I would try playing the final three beats of the Sonata in a slight diminuendo and with a small rallentando, so that each of the three crotchets (quarter notes) are ‘placed’. This will create a feeling of arriving at the end of the Sonata.

Wild applause should follow!






 
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