Allegro moderato – Meno
This excerpt presents two particular challenges. The first is all of the Italian terms that are written in. In order to fully understand what the composer or editor intended, we need to know what these terms mean.
Allegro moderato – moderately fast; For this piece, what is fast? Is it the quarter note beat? Is it the fastest notes? In this piece, I choose to interpret it as having the sixteenth notes be fairly quick, but not so fast as to be sloppy. Your judges would rather hear you play slightly slower and clean than fast and lack clarity.
Meno – less; not as fast as Allegro moderato, again giving credence to the idea of playing so that the beat itself is not too quick.
a voce spiegato – in a voice of explanation, to be made clear or understandable; just one more term that means to play this clearly and not too fast for clarity.
allarg. assai – short for allargando assai – slowing down, broadening, and usually getting louder or more intense, assai is a term that intensifies the word it affects, so broaden more and really build the intensity here.
The second big challenge is to acknowledge all of the accents and other written indications. Make sure to indicate a difference between the articulations that are written.
Slurs should start with the same articulation as any non-slurred note, but the second note should start with a softer articulation. As you listen to the recording, pay attention to the 2nd note (and later notes) of slurs to hear the difference between the front and end of each note.
Staccato means separated, which can sometimes also mean short, but in this context, I see the staccato notes as having a bit more bounce to them than the other notes. Play them short enough to get a good front, but not so short that they get pecky.
The final consideration that I am going to mention is the use of alternate positions. Try playing this in all ‘normal’ positions, with the Ds above the staff in 1st position, etc. While some of these sound very good, some of them present awkward slide combinations that slow you down or force you to use a heavier articulation in order to maintain clarity. Watch my performance below and take your copy of the music (or better yet make another clean copy to do this with) and write down everything that I do that isn’t on the page.
- Breath marks
- Alternate positions
- Additional crescendos and diminuendos to follow the shape of the lines
Try these. Some of them will work for you and some will feel awkward at first. For the ones that don’t feel as comfortable, try living with them for a few days. If they get better, use them in your own playing. As long as it sounds good and isn’t more difficult than it needs to be, do whatever works for you!