Masterclass: Mozart Violin Concerto no.4 in D major K218


Violinist Francesca Dego looks at how to play the final movement of this violin concerto with direction, musicality and a sense of fun

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The first movements of Mozart’s violin concertos are so often used as audition pieces that sometimes I think people forget the pieces are longer than that! Last movements are frequently the most straightforward and happy, and to me this one in particular is incredibly special. Mozart just pours out idea after idea, and there are so many possible interpretations. It is one of my favourite movements to play with orchestra.

Too often violinists seem to be walking on eggshells when they play Mozart, because they have been told so many rules about what they can and cannot do that they only learn to follow instructions, instead of feeling the music for themselves. They often focus all their attention on playing exactly what is written, with clean shifts, articulate bow changes and good string-crossings and intonation, and their playing moves between sounding sheepish and even more hidden. That can put a real barrier between them and the music.

It’s important to have a scholarly understanding of the music, but you also have to be able to play what is musical, not just what is ‘correct’. One way not to be frightened of Mozart is to play really loudly in the fortes, to bring out the chiaroscuro effect in his writing. Obviously you don’t want to sound heavy or vulgar, but the orchestration is rich and there is a lot going on, so you have to know how to dip in and out of that. Mozart’s scores can look quite empty dynamically, but the music should be full of shapes in between each piano and forte…

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