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Working to Live

Mendy Smith

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Published: July 3, 2015 at 1:14 AM [UTC]

Between getting a wisdom tooth pulled and finishing up a project that I've been managing for nearly two years now, it has been almost impossible to pick up my viola on a daily basis like I'm used to over the past few weeks. I won't go into how wrapping up this project was like pulling teeth as I still have recent memories of the pain of both. But today I can celebrate the completion of the project and being able get back to practicing in preparation for Interlochen!


Though multiple sequential 12+ hour days ate into my practice time severely, somehow I still managed to eek out a few minutes here and there and once a week several hours of practice. I've become a master at practicing while doing laundry: load washer, practice 30 minutes, move laundry to dryer and add new load to washer, practice 30 minutes. Repeat until done. What is wonderful about this weekend practice schedule is that it has built-in breaks every 30 minutes or so and kills two birds with one stone.

Now with the project signed off, I can get back to my normal routine and start preparing for Interlochen this summer. This year I will be part of a pre-formed group for coaching throughout the week. We will be working on Beethoven's String Trio Op 9 #3.

The piece is not incredibly difficult technically (with limited practice time, a huge bonus), but sufficiently challenging musically. A perfect piece for a week's worth of coaching in a month and a half. It has elements of whimsy and seriousness - a perfect balance for my state of mind.

And best of all, some very juicy viola parts!

So, for the remainder of this evening I will be kicking back and relaxing, and then tomorrow morning pick back up where I left off in my practice. Camp is only a month and a half away!

From Thomas Boyer
Posted on July 4, 2015 at 7:52 PM
I've had the good fortune to spend some time with the string trios lately. They're just incredibly good for such early work -- they're almost student pieces written mostly to show Haydn what young Ludwig had learned. But they are fully mature, beautifully written, just packed with genius. There are middle movements in the Op. 8 and 9 that are truly vintage Beethoven. Terrific parts for all three instruments.

"Not incredibly difficult technically" -- not sure I agree. They are completely exposed and wickedly hard in spots for all three instruments but especially for the violin. And because they're trios, there are just about no rests at all. No chance to wipe the steam off your glasses.

BTW there is a transcendantly wonderful recording of these by the Lendvai String Trio. Really well thought out interpretations by a group that spent quite a few years getting to know them intimately.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on July 6, 2015 at 12:50 AM

Compared to the late Beethoven string quartets and more modern quartets that I normally get volunteered for, Op 9 #3 is easy by comparison.

I like the Lendvai String Trio's recording alot! Thanks for the suggestion!

From Thomas Boyer
Posted on July 6, 2015 at 2:36 PM
Yes Mendy, I agree, I just think Beethoven is always hard, really hard to get right, and people can hear every bit of every note - nowhere to hide, and so many challenges especially for the right hand. I saw a comment once from one of the Guarneris that the most intimidating thing they could program was early or middle Beethoven because of the transparency.

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