Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 5 - 2nd movement
Joe Cradler (horn)
“Tchaikovsky reminds us that we have a whole world of passion, love, frustration, sorrow, tragedy, desire, the entire range of human emotion available through your horn.”
— Benjamin Zander
Good. Very nice. Great.
Now come a little closer, Joe, so that we can have a conversation. Now, you play it very beautifully. The difficulty with the horn is that it’s so difficult to play that just to play the notes is a huge challenge. And most horn players, and I must say most conductors, are happy if the horn player just plays the notes. But we are looking for something else, okay?
And what we want, when you go into an audition, there are going to be 180 other horn players there who play just about as well as you do. And what they’re looking for, at least they think they’re looking for, is good intonation, that all the notes are well-produced, that you follow the dynamics, and you have a beautiful sound. Right? Those are the obsessions, aren’t they, with the teachers and the players and the audition people? That’s what they’re looking for because they want security. They want something to be reliable. Like if you hire a chauffeur, you want them to look good, you want them to drive well, to be safe, to be polite. That’s all you want. And on time, that’s all we want. It’s exactly the same with horn playing. Exactly the same. Right, yeah. Exactly the same.
But Tchaikovsky was not writing for a limousine driver. He was writing from the depths of his heart. And so he gave us all sorts of help. First of all, like Beethoven, he loved the metronome. And I don’t know if you know this, but there are, in this movement, 56 tempo indications and 18 metronome marks, in one movement. So, this is somebody who took care and really cared about this issue. So now, let’s just see what his temper was. Do you have it in your part?
I do not.
You do not. You see already, there you go. The people who published this didn’t think it was worth informing the horn player what speed Tchaikovsky wanted it to be played. Right?
And your laughter is actually perfectly appropriate. But it’s true, always, isn’t it? They don’t ever tell you how fast it’s supposed to be. Okay, I’ll tell you. 54. Incidentally, most conductors don’t take any notice of it, either. So that’s the tempo, which is you do it faster than most people do it actually already, which is great, but you don’t do it quite moving enough. So then what he says is, ” [foreign language 00:04:41].” Do you know what that means?
“With some artistic license.”
Well, with a fair amount of freedom.
Right, with a fair amount of freedom. Great. Then he says Spaghetti bolognese, everything is in there, right? The whole thing about, as free as it could possibly be.
So, let’s try it again. So from here… And then he puts an accent on there. My God, all this information. Here we go. 1, 2, 3….
Good. What he’s saying, that’s beautiful… (singing)
It has that natural flow. Like…
You know that. Sorry. So, from there to…
Good, good. Can you make the first sound very, very dolce?…
Good. So, there’s a parallel. You have to…
And I would suggest you lengthen the first one…
So, do it once again…
Right. Now, you got a little stuck on that because… because you were a little under the tempo.
So, what you want is… And don’t make the G too much because it’s got a long way to go…
That’s the destination. So…
All right. And that should do something to you… Right? Try it again. And don’t get too slow on… But he just like you were… One of the advantages of his tempo is that it moves more, so you can be a little freer with it…
And now the third one…
Try it. 2… Just do the first one. 2, 3…
Yeah, the beauty is, because the strings are just doing nothing, you can take as much time as you want. Isn’t that nice? Because when are really deeply in love with somebody, you take a breath before you say the next thing you say… And then the third one is even more difference. You’ve got the first one, the second one, and the third one is the big one, right? So, once again, from…
Even more. You did it more beautifully before… Go to the accent, (singing)…
Now that’s beautiful. That touches the soul, right? That lady over there said, “Yes. I used to remember how that was when we were young, we used to feel it.” Bravo, beautiful. Once again.
So… 3, 2… no, wait, wait. I’ll cue, this is one…
Yeah, I don’t feel… that accent… One….
Right. It’s interesting because the first one… The third one you expect… because the third one is the most. So, first, the second, the third. But the third one has to be less because it’s of the crescendo. But feel the intensity as if it was tthe biggest of the three. That was beautiful…
Now it’s animando, animando, animando. “Move, move, move, move.” Animando means move. You don’t move enough…
And then the ritenuto. Isn’t that beautiful? Sure. That was great. So, do the animando… the second phrase and…
Yeah, except that he wrote diminuendo, right? Oh, look. Oh, no. Yes, diminuendo.
It wants to crescendo because… because the G sharp is so surprising with its… Heartbroken, right? Bravo. Beautiful. Once again, then…
Yeah, but… not…. Don’t make them even. Because now there’s a beautiful duet with the clarinet, which is a amazing… well, it’s like a love duet. God, that was beautiful. From here…. Yes…
Can you avoid… because it sounds…
So, might… All of that’s written in, isn’t it amazing? So, should we try from… Where do we go?
Animando, yeah. The first… yeah? …
Do you notice something that… and I’m playing the clarinet part? I do… and I do a little… not… Because he gets too square. But that was beautiful. One more time, same thing. And when you get the… it’s like… It’s always… a little free. Good. So, from there, beautiful…
That’s gorgeous, that’s beautiful. Can you look a little bit as though you were having a good time? You look awfully severe. If you do… just right there. 2, 3…
Can I break you of this… because I’m not doing that, I’m the clarinet. So, you should be listening to the clarinet and doing the same time timing…
Can you do this? Can you do…
Yes, and then I go…
And then finally, animando…
Oh, beautiful. This is Romeo and Juliet isn’t it? It’s the same thing. So, I’m Juliet and you’re Romeo… So, let’s do from there…
And you come in the half bar, the con moto…
Now, I’m a very passionate Juliet and I expect a passionate Romeo. So, I do… And you do… Because you’ve been trained to be a workman-like horn player, and I’m trying to turn you into Romeo, okay? It’ll do a world of good for your whole life, I promise you. So, let’s get from there…
Romeo himself! Bravo. That was beautiful.
Okay, let’s do the whole thing, the whole thing. Great, that’s the way to play. Now, if you play that way, and there are 180 other people playing, well in tune, good sound, well-dressed, well-behaved, they won’t play like you, right? I’m sure they won’t. So, let’s just try that from the beginning. Are you ready? I’m going to do the introduction and I’m going to go… you know, an octave lower…
Bravo, really fantastic.
Joe, can I tell you what that applause is about? That applause is saying, “We spend our lives in ordinary, mundane affairs, we behave in a mundane way, we dress in a mundane way, we walk to the office, we work in the office, we come home on the train, we say hello to our family, and then we die.”
And then Tchaikovsky comes in and reminds us that we have another whole world, another whole world of passion, of love, of frustration, of sorrow, of tragedy, of desire, the entire range of human emotion available through your horn. And you practice and practice and practice to play perfectly so that you can express that. The desire, the aim, the goal is not to play perfectly. That is not the aim. The aim is to make music like that, which you just did and you touched every…
Now they’re going to go home and they’re going to listen to their Tchaikovsky recordings and they’re going to say, “Oh, that guy doesn’t play nearly as well as that fellow in the class.” I’m sure you are. You’re going to be amazed because almost nobody… Isn’t that right? Nobody plays that way.
You never hear it. And yet, it’s what Tchaikovsky wrote. Why do we ignore? Just as why do we ignore Beethoven when he writes cut time Sonata Una Quasi? Because we know better. We think we know better. We do not know better. Right? The composer knows better. We just do what the composer says and you’ll be safe. Isn’t that exciting?
So, now here’s the big question. Will you play that way next time you do an audition?
“Of course,” he said.
I asked that question to a cellist that I coached for a audition. I said, “Are you going to play that way in the audition?”
He said, “Are you crazy? I want this job.”
Now, when you go to the audition, of course, you are behind a screen. It’s cold. You are nervous. These awful people are on the other side of the screen who you can’t stand and they don’t like you. And so you have to create another whole story. You have to say, “I have something to tell these people behind the screen that they’ve never heard before. And they may not like it, they may not be used to it, but they’re going to be convinced by it.” And it’s such a joy to share what you’ve discovered in life with other people that is going to give you the ardor and the authority to do it and not holding back.
A young cellist that I coach said to me, “If I go to this audition and they don’t like hearing it the way Beethoven wanted it, I don’t want to be in that orchestra.” So, that’s the other side of the coin, that you really only want to be with other musicians that feel passionately about the art, not just about the means of the art or the playing.
I was having a dinner with somebody once and I got a little drunk. It was a long dinner, and we had several glasses of wine. And finally, I got very carried away and I said, “Music is the most passionate language of the human soul! And the music profession thinks it’s about playing the fucking trumpet!” And he was writing a book of quotations… went in the book. Don’t quote me.
Well done. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Great. Thank you so much for your help.
Beautiful. And I’ll just say one thing.
Joe? Joe, are you a junior now?
You’re a junior. So, Joe joined the orchestra last year, the youth orchestra last year. And he’s in the orchestra this year. And he’s playing… We are doing Romeo and Juliet of Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky piano concerto. And next semester, we’re doing Marlo Nine, and he’s going to be playing first horn in that. And then later on, we’re going to be doing Strauss Till Eulenspiegel. And he doesn’t know this yet, but he’s going to be playing first horn in that. And so he’s going to be growing at the same time as he’s developing his fantastic horn playing in this way of making music and leading life. And that’s part of what we offer, in addition to the training in the instrument and all of that. So, it’s a great, great pleasure to have you in that orchestra.
Of course. I’ll accept it.