Expertise portal University College Ghent

Dutch

Research on left hand expression techniques (portamento, vibrato, tone quality, fingering) in solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire for the Violoncello in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

Project: PhD-project

Onderzoekslijnen: Onderzoek van het muzikaal scheppingsproces, onderzoek naar de samenhang van compositie en uitvoering, het onderzoek van de culturele context, de compositorische genese en de uitvoeringspraktijk.

While performing and recording the C. Debussy and M. Ravel programs (2011-2012) with the orchestra Anima Eterna Brugge (http://animaeterna.be/discography/), where I am the violoncello principal, I became interested in a practical application of the expressive effects such as portamento, vibrato, tone quality, intonation. The research of the evolution of performing style and use of the expressive techniques based on journalism and other contemporary accounts belongs to some aspects of 19th – beginning 20th century violoncello playing that should receive more attention.

Therefore, I would like to perform a deeper investigation and gather some additional information on this matter by studying the contemporary 19th – early 20th century sources (Schools of Playing, Method books, contemporary works on aesthetics, performance practice, psychology of music and recordings), examining the contemporary publications and searching for the new materials in journalism (articles, reviews, memoires, and letters). It would be also very profitable to use the Early Sound Recordings as a reference.

Since I would like to make an accent particularly on the violoncello playing it is essential to find out if the stylistic changes in performance were due to the evolution of the instrumental technique together with the evolution of a personal taste and style in general; if the stylistic changes were due to the social development; in which way the development of sound recording affected the performing style? What was the role of national schools of playing?

An increase in the use of prominent portamento seems to have occurred around the beginning of the 19th century (according to C. Brown’s article) and have reached an apotheosis at the turn of the 20th century. Leopold Auer (1845-1930), one of the last defenders of the old 19th century aesthetic, was warning against the abuse of portamento and vibrato.

I would like to investigate if there was a real abuse of the portamento and vibrato in solo and orchestral playing and see what are the signs of this abuse? What caused the new style of prominent portamento come to existence and develop into abuse?

I would like to give you several very simple examples from my recent activities. A new CD with Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals (Le carnaval des animaux, 1886) has just been recorded (January, 2013, Anima Eterna Brugge for Zig-Zag Territoires). The famous Swan (Le Cygne) cello solo piece was one of subjects of my investigation. Is it going to be a return to portamento in my interpretation? Definitely, I come closer to a more meaningful performance. My research is a great help for making some stylistic changes in my playing and teaching.

Several solo projects which are directly connected to the research will be recorded in the future (L. van Beethoven, Violoncello Sonatas and Variations; J. Brahms, Violoncello Sonatas; C. Debussy, works for the Violoncello, B. Romberg, Violoncello works)

Website:  www.sergei-istomin.com

StatusIn execution
Period1/10/1230/09/18
URLwww.sergei-istomin.com