Originally Posted by AClark
I recently started working on the excerpt for an upcoming audition, and I'm making great progress on it, but I still have a few questions that maybe you guys can answer.
Most audition excerpts consist of Mozart 35 or Beethoven 5 because the music is not only challenging, but they are looking fore more specific things like stroke and musical shape. I cannot figure out exactly why wagner was chosen and what it shows off.
I understand that this is a very exposed excerpt for the basses, and it really is a fun little lick, but it's not really technically or musically challenging. why this excerpt was chosen? What is the purpose of them requesting it?
I think it's musically very challenging.
It's not meant to test your physical playing ability, it's meant to test your adherence to the tempo and your ability to play what's written. If you don't add the phrasing elements, like the steady build up from mezzo forte to fff at the end, you don't pay attention to the stylistic notes and you don't pay attention to the really little details I think it can point out who's really paying attention or not. It will also sound really boring if you don't pay attention to those little things too.
I've got to play this as an excerpt for the National Youth Orchestra; the advice I've gotten from members of the Philly and Cleveland orchestra is that you should make sure not to clip the ties and make sure everything is exactly in rhythm. The piece isn't about being a singing soloist who can take his liberty with the piece, it's about being dead on the rhythm. Make sure the notes are given the same worth as well--on some of the quarter note ascending scales (the one I can think of most prominently starts on a G and works up to an E (in fourth position, G string)) it's very easy to hold them out longer and make them stand out more, just because it's a (or maybe it's just me) natural inclination to do so, but be careful not to. It's also pretty long for an excerpt and I have trouble pacing myself throughout the entire thing so I guess that's another big thing to watch out for. I've tried to remedy this by putting major dynamic turning points at certain letters throughout the piece. If you listen to a whole bunch of recordings, you can pick those points out.
Another major thing is the style of the piece. It's a Wagnerian opera so when I first started playing it I played it as if I were an operatic soloist--which is the exact wrong thing to do (at least as I've been told). This means it's not legato (it's written all over the original score *not* to play it legato; even the pomposo isn't legato), but should still be stately and the notes should have a little space between them. This is also a big audition piece for tubas, which play a similar part to ours, so I try to go for that fat, tuba sound. As a consequence, I don't make any of the notes square or whispy, but I try to give them a little rounded edge, like a "P" or a "B" consonant sound.
I haven't actually seen the whole opera, but to me our excerpt in it sounds likes the coming of some sort of royalty; like a prelude of honorable nobility or something along those lines. Trying to emulate this sound is key for me--so I just put myself in a snooty and uppity mindset and pretend that I'm some sort of German knight out for a ride.
It reminds me of one of those tests you get in school that have all incredibly fun and interesting questions to answer, when the first direction was to sign your name and leave the test blank. One of those "follow the rules" tests; don't add anything that's not asked for and play it in the style it was meant for.
Good luck on your audition!