10 Etudes, by August Noelck

Links to Greater Technical Freedom

There are etudes, etudes, and more etudes. Every instrument has them and more than can be learned or even played through meaningfully during the course of study. Cello, you might be surprised to learn, is no different. (Sometimes I wonder if there are more etudes than performance works—which is what I genuinely thought in college.)

Etudes, or studies, are meant to develop specific technical aspects. Each one usually focuses on a particular rhythmic motive which will then get as many harmonic and positional permutations as the composer can think of. At least as many as are useful to playing any concert repertoire. It roots out any shortcomings you might have.

During the student’s time learning and acquiring elevated technique, they will inevitably practice the Etudes of many cellist/composers.

  • Schroeder
  • Dotzauer
  • Lee
  • Buechler
  • Kummer
  • Gruetzmacher
  • Servais
  • Duport
  • Popper (Our “King” of Etudes)—maybe more on him another time, if I run low on motivation for “Forgotten Cello Music”

Not until recently have I heard of the name and seen any works by August Noelck. This week, I have been playing and recording and uploading (to Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram) an etude a day. So far I have 4 of them uploaded. https://fb.watch/4-LxJXtpid/

Quick observations:

Nölck’s writing and style:

  1. Unique
  2. Fluid
  3. Imaginative
  4. Sometimes unpredictable
  5. evening challenging

I look at each work in relation to the level of player the piece is most likely composed for. Hence, the remarks and points made. That is not to say that it is not challenging for me though. I have not been a performing cellist for about five years now. These are good pieces to work the technique and fluid playing back into some semblance of a cellist with a Master’s of Music.

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