Thinking about the Saint-Saens Concerto

Lately I have been revisiting a piece which has on and off of my cellistic plate for almost twenty years: the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra in a minor, opus 33, by Camille Saint-Saëns.  Finally having travelled to the region of its naissance, or birth, c’est-a-dire Paris, I think I am getting a better grip on the French style of composition, if only incrementally.  Of course dedicated and certifiably Francophone/Francophile colleagues like Eric Lenz are far, far ahead of me here, including in terms of flawless cello technique and verb conjugation.

In any case, inspired by Alan Harris and finally able to revisit his studio via the wonders of YouTube, yesterday I began to compile a few thoughts on how students of mine might approach the Saint-Saens Concerto.  Thus:

Obviously this method is still nascent and my bowtip is too high (it’s a carbon bow I bought in Beijing a few years back after an intense struggle session), but perhaps it points forward to a democratization of cello pedagogy more widely.  The multiple tens of thousands of dollars (U.S., not adjusted for inflation/通货膨胀) which I invested in working with Alan Harris and others resulted in a certain knowledge base which I am eager to fuse to my more recent pursuits as a teacher more broadly.

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