Julius Weissenborn’s Two Pieces: Arioso and Humoresque. Terry B. Ewell provides performance and practice suggestions with an introduction to the performance of Romantic music. BDP #315, 2reed.net.

[Music: Weissenborn Humoresque]

Welcome to this discussion of two little compositions by Julius Weissenborn. I am Terry Ewell.

When you perform music, it is quite important to understand what period the music is from because this will influence how you perform the work. For instance, compositions from the Baroque period are performed quite differently from those from the Romantic period. These two pieces are from the Romantic period and provide excellent examples for how to approach that style of music. Music from the Romantic period is characterized by open displays of emotion. The emotions are expressed with dynamics, changes of tempos, and phrasing of melodies.

Let’s see how these romantic tendencies are expressed in the Arioso. Weissenborn’s choice of the title “Arioso” is a reference to song in opera. So, this must be quite lyrical and perhaps you can even picture yourself using the bassoon as your voice. You will need to phrase the melody to climaxes or important arrival points. Musical phrases usually feature first crescendos to the musical goals and then decrescendos away from them. Determining the climax of each gesture or phrase is not always easy, but there are some common tendencies you can keep in mind:

In phrases or gestures, climaxes usually occur:

1) halfway or later (often later);

2) on stressed beats, usually down beats;

3) sometimes they are given with an appoggiatura.

In addition, the shorter value notes move to longer value notes. Think of little children being attracted to their parents. Consider that notes are not orphans, rather they are families.

The printed music edited by Bernard Garfield provides contradictory indications for phrasing. The dynamics given for the first two gestures do not agree with those in the second two gestures. For the reasons I just gave, I prefer the crescendos in different places.

Here we have the crescendos that I prefer. You can see that they follow in parallel with the crescendos of the third and fourth phrases. These crescendos feature climaxes on the downbeats. There is even a downbeat down here. This phrasing also features appoggiaturas. Here is the appoggiatura in the second gesture. Here is the appoggiatura in the fourth gesture. An appoggiatura is a dissonance, a non-chord tone on the downbeat that most often resolves downward. Now, this is an extremely important gesture in Common Practice music. That is music from the Baroque period (and later) and frankly even into the 20th century. This is one of the most expressive devices and one that you need to master if you are going to understand phrasing and musicality.

Here is an example of the little notes going to the bigger notes. Again, this is one of the tendencies in music that we often see. Musicality is usually expressed in this way.

Here is the music again for you to study.

[music—opening of Arioso]

Although the Humoresque is not as serious in nature as the Arioso, it is still quite Romantic in style. This composition features flexible tempos. You can also use a bit of rubato to show phrases and gestures as well.

For instance, in the first measures of the work it would be appropriate to push forward the tempo slightly in the first two measures and then relax it in the third. “Commodo” means motion, to move, so do not feature static tempos in this piece.

[music-opening of Humoresque]

The animato section starting in m. 17 features tempo variations. The term animato, which means animated, indicates more life and a faster tempo. Later the ritenuto returns the tempo back to the opening speed. Ritenuto means to slow down. Tempo 1, of course, means to start at the same tempo as the opening of the Humoresque.

[music—later portion of Humoresque]

Communication with your accompanist is important in all of these tempo changes. Be sure that you and your accompanist can communicate by gestures to each other while playing the music.

Well, I hope that you enjoy these two little compositions and now you can perform them with confidence! Bye.

[Music: Weissenborn Humoresque]