The 90 studies have been made with cellists of a middle to high level in mind. This new proposal centers on types of contents and technical difficulties different from what one finds in more traditional methods. The main objective of this collection of studies is to be a tool, easy to assimilate and aiming at stimulating enthusiasm and interest in acquiring new technical abilities. In order to obtain the proposed benefits, the pupil’s musical development is associated with the acquisition of new technical resources, thereby creating, in the musical and artistic expression, a powerful engine to strive for, reach, and obtain a satisfactory result. In order to get the full benefit of technical and interpretative skills, it is necessary that the technique and the musical development progress together. One should remember that this can only be attained when the difficulties are transformed into something easy to accomplish. Learning the technical content of these studies must allow one to open oneself to a wider and more attractive repertory. Thus one will be able to reach the level of skill needed to vanquish the specific technical requirements of certain passages, and offering in this way valuable tools to tackle a great number of works.
As for the formal concept design of each study, I think it is useful to mention that the following characteristics and components have been considered in their elaboration:
According to the nature of the technical problems encountered in each study, I obtained the form through the sole exploitation of a single perpetual motif, or of a binary melodic development, or, lastly, through a ternary development. As for the size of the studies, I decided to reduce the traditional size, which usually induces one to give up before even finishing, thereby allowing the student to avoid frustration and wearing out.
The studies with perpetual motifs alternate with those where one combines bow strikes with many constitutive elements.
The choice of pitches fits those that have been the most beneficial, given the technical problems to be studied, as well as the organological characteristics imposed by the instrument.
Due to their musical qualities, a number of the studies can be played in a concert, just like short individual pieces.
The studies do not follow any progression, as they are presented in order of their composition.
Adding to what has been said previously, in regard to the usefulness of the technique - which must serve the music itself, I would like to share the following experience:
One day, after having listened to a concert given by one of the best cellists ever, Pierre Fournier, one of my best teachers came to me and said: “Pierre Fournier has the technique to allow him to play whatever he decides in spite of the physical difficulties.” This comment sounded quite disparaging and sarcastic at the time, but, as the years went by, I understood its deep meaning: technique must never come before interpretation, as this would mean a prowess would be promoted while forgetting musical expression. This is where we come to Beethoven’s famous dictum that he repeated time and again: “A lack of refinement or a technical fault can be forgiven, but we should never forgive the absence of expressiveness.”
After these last thoughts, I can only accept my position as a composer, that is: to give balance and reciprocity to both aspects: they are complementary and solidary, as they respond to what our temperament and deep sense of music dictate. It is not possible to understand one without the other, as technique becomes the vehicle to travel through the world of music.
The feelings that allow one to achieve anything in life are very diverse. In the case of the creation of these 90 studies for cello, it all comes from the reasons that pushed me to ask Samuel Máynez Vidal to compose them:
My experience as a cello teacher led me to think that, within our repertory, teachers spend most of their careers teaching the very same studies, generation after generation. Freshness, buoyancy, and regeneration of daily life are absolutely vital, and they led me to suggest such an initiative to this composer.
On the other hand, a grave accident to my right hand gave me much more time as it propelled me into thinking that I needed to get my lost feelings back. And so I thought and felt that the collection of studies I had asked from Máynez, with their accent on finger work, articulations, and bow strikes, and the complete revision of the manuscript to get a definitive publishable version, would indeed be a superb exercise of recuperation. These studies helped me tremendously, both physically and psychologically. Thus I think a personal misadventure helped me build an ensemble that I can share with others. And this makes me very happy indeed.
On the other hand, collections of studies by other composers lack some aspects, which can be completed by the “cello-ish” writing of Samuel Máynez. This is what I felt, as the studies were developed. Concretely, the work done on the resonances is one of the most important aspects brought to us by these studies.
Before this edition, the studies were worked over with students of varying levels, their common denominator being that all of them were struck by a sort of “magical wand,” giving them brio and happiness, leaving by the side the feeling of weariness due to the hard work necessary to surmount the various technical problems within the studies.
This collection started with 15 studies, which became 25, then 50, and finally 90, and I don’t know where it all could lead us! Their variety and differences lead me to praise and admire Samuel’s infinite creative capacity.
The talent of the teachers when they chose the most proper study will make of each of them the right study for a given student, culminating in progress on the musical road, pleasure, happiness, and the satisfaction of a well-rewarded effort.
Musical ideas flow through the rivers that end in a sea of creative ideas, and I hope that they will be of use for many coming generations of musicians, and thus let them enjoy music, an art that can only be understood via our feelings, and can be felt though understanding.