Rehearsing the first movement of the Spohr sextet. Gentle, warm music that perhaps doesn’t have the depth of Brahms but its texture bears a striking similarity in parts to the music of Richard Strauss – the lyricism, the shifts of key, the fluttering trills.
There is a lot of trilling to do in Spohr. They are a characteristic part of his music, for sure. He was a well known and influential violin teacher and articulating trills was a skill that was very much a part of his method. What is particularly challenging for the performer is the way he incorporates trills in runs of fast notes that are already tricky enough without having to add extra twiddles! But we enjoy it all the same, keeping our fingers nimble and ready for action.
Here is an example of the trilling going on between first violin and viola in that same movement:
And from the slow movement, less trilling, more collective enjoyment in the melodic sweep and contrasting rhythmic decisiveness.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, one of Spohr’s innovations was in providing rehearsal letters in the music to make it easier for musicians to rehearse the music together, so that they could go beyond such practicalities and engage with more profound issues such as phrasing and interpretation. I wonder what Spohr would have made of the deep philosophical discussion going on here: (you may need to turn up your volume to hear our voices.)