Iosif Andriasov’s Meditation for Viola and Piano with Detailed Analysis and Performance Suggestions, Pt. 1
Iosif Andriasov’s Meditation for Viola and Piano with detailed analysis and performance suggestions, Pt. 1.
Iosif Andriasov wrote an incredible composition titled Meditation. He made several versions for this composition, originally writing it for Mixed Choir. One of my many goals in life is to write some detailed analysis and performance suggestions for his music. It is one way to thank my dad for all he has done for me. My first article will be about Iosif Andriasov’s Meditation written for Viola and Piano.
Bar 1 – The piano enters with a seemingly easy chord. A problem might occur, like in everything, if the pianist takes an arrogant approach to this beginning. This chord is very difficult due to the pianist’s responsibility of setting a specific mood. If one slams the chord, then you are changing the piece from Meditation to the jump of a beast. If you play with arrogance, you will also look like a buffoon to those who understand these intricate details.
Playing with left pedal will make this Meditation weak. In normal meditating, a person has to exhibit inner strength and not be a person who will be stepped on. All the while, playing this chord with arrogance, one will not adhere to my father’s thoughts of not being a slave or master. Before pressing the keys, I breathe in and then just in the middle of my breathe I play this chord. Having a full breathe will not work because the sound will be too full. Without any air, this chord becomes weak. This balance helps me get the sound I want from my hands.
There are two technical ways to play this chord. The first one is to play the full chord. The right hand is stretched out and can be very tough to grab the whole chord without messing up. Because the importance of putting this chord correctly is so high, I advise to use this method only if a pianist is super confident in their hand size, someone like a Rachmaninoff, to not ruin the mood needed. The second way to play this chord is to press the low d-flat note first and then play out the rest of this chord together more comfortably. This comfort will help you forget about the hand posture and focus on the given task. I recommend playing this way for pianists with smaller hands as well.
Bar 2 – Because the chord has to be sustained for 1 and a 1/2 measure, the force with which you press the keys must be strong enough not to fade too quickly. The next chord has to be played softly, but with purpose. It is the beginning phrase for this piece. I like to emphasize the top F note. Meditation, in the case of my father’s music, is not a lifeless action. It is very important to bring energy to life. If this chord is performed too lightly, then the Violist will be uncomfortable to enter freely. Finding the right balance is key. No left pedal. Enough strength has to be built in the fingers to be able to perform a piece without any fake help. The left pedal mutes a driving force. Only on specific request from the composer should one use the left pedal. There are no left pedal markings on this compositions.
Bar 3 – Because the Meditation by Iosif Andriasov was written originally for chorus, Victor Romasevich, who was Iosif Andriasov’s Violin and Viola pupil, came to understand a very important feature through performing this piece numerous times. In his completely correct assessment, the Violist should play this composition with an obbligato style and not like a soloist. It is an additional voice to the predominant chorus. With this perspective, it will be easier for the Violist to join the composition and not lead it. The Violist’s entrance should be played on an up bow, bringing the music to the sky. The beautiful Melody is reserved in nature, but filled with such love that cannot be touched. The ability of a person to display love that is reserved through music can only be described as a genius human being who experienced the very nature of our life’s lessons. Not always should we allow a bombastic display of love. Most true love is done through a tender smile across a room, where the other person knows he or she is truly thought of. This kind of inner beauty is inside Iosif Andriasov, probably none more apparent than in the Viola part in the 3rd bar. The piano part should keep calm, and you can either lead with the right hand top note or play the music evenly, as if a well tuned chorus.
Bar 4 – The D-flat, performed by the Viola, must be played calmly and softly. It should not stand out of the harmony that was built in the prior bar. This note should have enough sound for it to last a whole bar, where the next note in Bar 5 wouldn’t be performed out of context. Always think ahead. A real musician will prepare everything in advance. The arrogance of a musician will vividly fail for those who notice. If you think this piece and each moment inside of this masterpiece is simple and easy to perform, then you have a lot to learn in life. Being able to catch that exact tone and breath is challenging. This composition makes you see how and where you are as a musician and more importantly as a human being.
The piano chord in the beginning of this bar should be played with calmness, strictness, and respect. This chord should be pressed tightly, but not tensely, sometimes a difficult balance to achieve. This way, you, the pianist, can play the next chord in this bar with movement. Do not go overboard, because we should never forget that the Meditation is a calm composition with energy. That initial need to make the tempo go faster based on the second chord in this bar will be very tempting. Make a subtle change in this reserved chord, as if you are walking to a second level of a ten story building. You don’t want to run up several floors and lose all your energy. You will not make it to the top. The same truth lies in this composition. The gradual progression of this composition will be met with a gradual downwards motion, so don’t be exhuberent in the second chord, the Violist will have to play too loud to keep up. That will be the wrong tactic to employ if you understand that the Viola part is an add on to the original choral composition.
This concludes my detailed analysis of Iosif Andriasov’s Meditation for Viola and Piano, Pt. 1. I will be writing more about this magnificent composition, 4 bars at a time. These thoughts can be employed to his other versions of this composition. To read more about Iosif Andriasov’s composition, visit the Meditation for Viola and Piano page.
Listen to the performance of Victor Romasevich (Viola) and I (Piano) at the 5th Maine Andriasov Music Festival below on YouTube.