This is Vivaldi’s A minor, A minor, A minor
And what I’m playing now is called the tutti
There are a lot of re-
And what is difficult
Now starts my solo violin, violin, violin part
Then here comes a diff’rent, here comes a diff’rent,
Now this part is easy, but I’m still scared because in a moment comes a crazy mixed up kind of mess.
The orchestra plays this, orchestra plays this, orchestra plays this but I strum along to keep my place.
Oh dear, Oh me, Oh golly gee I should have practiced carefully,
This is what is called a se-
Phew. After this next part back comes the “tutti”
This next tune sounds familiar, and there is a reason
No, this part starts upo-n a-n “E”
So down bows and up bows, down bows and up bows,
Yes I think that I’m going now to make it.
All these notes, notes, notes repeated can make you
Now I wonder if I dare look at the audience,
This line’s marked “Largamente” it sounds real weird
Here comes that same old tune once again, and again, and again,
All this changing strings and stuff
I’m on the last lap now, I’m on the last lap now,
Editor's note (12/10/2011): I just received an e-mail from the person who wrote these words! Michael J. Clarke says, "It was composed for a party held in S.I.U.E. Edwardville for the graduate students of John Kendall in 1982. I performed it accompanied by Linda Perry. Subsequently, a copy of the text got circulated through the program. It was composed during the part preparations after a recital I had just given. It is public domain and everyone is welcome to use it! I introduced Suzuki to Iceland, but now work as a singer and voice teacher. Good luck!" Thank you to Mr. Clarke!
That’s what Maestro Jorge Mester told us folks in the Pasadena Symphony last night as we finally put together one of the myriad ill-fitting puzzle pieces of the “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta” by Bela Bartok. It was a long night, and Jorge had his hands full, putting many such puzzle pieces in place. He is doing a heroic job, IMO.
Make no mistake, this is a cool piece. A really cool piece. But for us musicians, it’s a bit of a “Feel-Bad” piece. Despite quite a lot of individual and collective practice (and some awesome soloists on piano, celesta and percussion), it remains a challenge.
Jorge gave me an idea with his above comment; I thought I’d describe how it feels to play this piece, from my humble perspective in the FOURTH violins section! So here goes:
I. Andante tranquilo
This is a meterless and meandering movement, which changes with every measure. It feels a little like the first movement of the Bartok Opus Posthumous violin concerto, which I have studied and like quite a lot. But the concerto feels more comfy to me. This movement is rather exposed. How does that feel? Well, like that typical dream people have; you have gone to school or work only to discover that you are not wearing a stitch of clothing. You try to play it cool, to stand behind a plant or drape something conveniently about yourself, but the only thing you can think of is the fact that you aren’t wearing any clothes, and that at some point, someone might start noticing.
This feels like a fly is zooming uncontrollably and wildly about the room, and your job is to catch it with your bare hands, but not to kill it.
In this dream you also forgot to put on any clothes, and you are walking on a tightrope, strung between two large skyscrapers, with no net below.
IV. Allegro molto
The fly from the second movement has now grown to be the size of Mothra, and it is chasing you. It chases you up stairways that have locked doors at the end, through mazes and tunnels. You keep bumping into dead ends, turning around, going another way, counting randomly placed measures in quick five. In the end the giant fly swallows you alive, smiles and lets out a big burp.
Well, it’s time to get dressed for the concert! See you on the other side!
Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles went to Austin, Texas to cover the Menuhin Competition 2014, watching some of the world's top young violinists. Read her ongoing coverage.
Laurie Niles is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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