To complete my mini-series on “Tackling the TMEA All-State Etudes” I’d like to finish with specifics on the other Etude by both J.E. Storch and Josef Hrabe. These were both men of reputation in the bass community in the 19th Century- also joined by Franz Simandl. This edition (International- 57 Studies, Vol. 2) was revised by Albin Findeisen and edited by Fred Zimmerman (two other individuals with key contributions to the instrument).
This etude is considerably (okay- quite a bit) more difficult than the other. My goal is to explain a few things that might make it easier to understand this etude because on paper it does look much more intimidating. Let’s look at a few things:
1) The piece is in C major, so let’s rest in the fact that it stays diatonic (in that key) for a while. The opening is an Andante. Look at all your notes and try to boil-down passages to either scales or arpeggios. From the 4th system (line) down it begins to get a bit more complex harmonically. I would look for ways to simplify the passages to something that you can understand and play well. For example, in the last measure of the 4th system- if you isolate the non-sharped notes, this piece is essentially a grand G major arpeggio. Once you notice this key concept then just think of the non-chord notes (the lower chromatic neighbors) as embellishments to the arpeggio. This happens twice. Also, look at your bowings the 3-4 bars before the double-bar. Make sure you know where you need to be in the bow for the slurred notes and separate notes. The music here makes a natural resolution into the new tempo.
2) The Maestoso is all about quick fingers (ie. left-hand) and not using to much bow. I would imagine becoming tired out too quickly if you attempt to use too much bow on the slurs, so really focus on conservation of energy and efficiency of performance. Again, look for patters or motives that repeat themselves. Once you understand these concepts its only a matter of applying them throughout this last section. The two common bowing patterns are: 1) slurring groups of two notes, and 2) two notes slurred & two notes separate. The first bowing necessitates a clean shift between slurred notes- so watch out for ‘slurps’. The second bowing requires that you keep the two separate notes short (ie. the staccato dots) after the slur. The pattern should work itself out ever other time, but keep it even (especially during string crossings).
Finally, on a closing note, it is important to remember the purpose of the etude. Essentially ‘etude’ means ‘study’, so if you are able to figure out what to study then hopefully you’ll have an idea of how to study the piece. It’s easy to become bogged down in these details, but try to remember the forest through the trees (think “organically”… yes this is Austin,TX) and enjoy some of the fun moments along the way.