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Mendy Smith

'R' you ready?

March 6, 2011 at 9:12 AM

I'm ramping down my "V" composer (Vieuxtemps Elegie).  After several months of study, the technicals are fairly secure and it is now a matter of style for the most part.  Granted, I could spend another several months on this piece working on style alone, however variety is the spice of life.  Something new is called for to  provide a new perspective an interest in my daily practice regime.

Working backwards alphabetically from 'V' is 'U' (Alfred Uhl) and 'T' (Telemann) are composers that I studied when I first began playing viola back in the '70's and '80's.  I have recently covered 'S' with Schubert & Sitt, so it is time for an 'R' composer.

After discussing it with my teacher, the Reger Suites for Viola is my choice for 'R'.  The challenge will be much like the Ysayse was last year.  These Suites are either incredibly fast or have a prolific use of double stops, and quite often a combination of both.  They were nearly ruled out due their difficulty until we settled on at least one that was manageable at tempo with the others being good studies at a slower tempo.  

Even then, my teacher is reluctant for me to take on Reger.  After reminding him that this same crazy old lady took on all of the Bach Suites starting with the 6th after a 25 year hiatus, followed by Bloch and then Ysayse, he agreed that it was possible with reservations and suggested what movement to start with.  

I don't take this challenge lightly.  It will take an incredible amount of effort to make any one of the movements recognizable.  I enjoy pushing myself a bit (or more) beyond my limits.  The thrill of taking on the seemingly impossible is irresistible.  In my experience, taking on a huge technical challenge helps me with pieces more inline with my ability, both technically and stylistically.  With every push forward, pieces that I have spent time with before aren't as technically difficult which opens up the realms of interpretation and style.  

This is going to be fun.


From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on March 7, 2011 at 1:26 PM

It was tough for me to do the Vieuxtemps Elegie.  I especially love the ending.

--Ann Marie


From al ku
Posted on March 7, 2011 at 2:03 PM

 just want to drop a note to let you know that we think what you are doing is an amazing and interesting journey!


From Mendy Smith
Posted on March 9, 2011 at 6:13 AM

Anne - The Vieuxtemps is TOUGH, especially the ending, a real finger twister.  I'm still not happy with the ending and have been tweaking my fingerings so much lately that I feel that it is time to put it aside and let it "marinate" for awhile and think it over.

Al - thank you for your words of encouragement.  A good portion of this journey is simply finding repertoire written for viola that spans the entire alphabet of composers, let alone choosing one to learn.  I must say that just over a few months into this, I've been exposed to such a wider range of music styles than I have been over the previous 10+ years. 

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