Written by The Weekend Vote
Published: July 4, 2014 at 9:31 PM [UTC]
Turn the car around, we're about to go careening down a very bumpy hill, and I don't think the brakes work!
Violinists seem to be natural show-offs, thus our most beloved concertos and showpieces often contain such challenging and treacherous passages. Of course, the best solution is to climb the mountain, slay the dragon, conquer the wild blue sea! Go for it, and get good at it!
But let's be honest: sometimes it's just a pain. You see such a passage and know right away, if you decide to play this piece, you're taking on a heckuva lot more practice! Of the ones listed, what kind of show-off-y technique gives you the most challenge? (Feel free to list any that aren't included in the comments!)
Pag #13 is in the current rotation. 1st position, 4th finger up to C on the E string + 1st finger back to A flat on the G string isn't terribly secure. Or, at least, securely out of tune (sad smiley face here).
And don't get me started on the stretches in #12.*
I'm also working on Prokovief/Heifetz's "Masks". The octaves are challenging, as are the quiet side articulations. Good piece. The Big H, and Kogan, are my Octavespiration.
I had a nice listen to Szigeti/Beecham/LPO's Mendelssohn concerto today, a recording well worth spending time with. (Tricky octaves, those on the first page. I've heard a lot of violinists, live, bomb the quarters but nail the triplets. One of the Great Mysteries of Violin Concerto World...)
*Or #1. Or #2. Or #3. Or #4. Or...
How come Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, etc. never needed such parlor tricks to write great music? Okay the Bach S&P are mostly hard as nails, but those are unaccompanied. I mean concertos. When Mozart wanted a run of double stops in his Concerto No. 3, he put one line in the solo and the other in the first violin part. No wonder people say his intelligence has not been matched since.
But the worst is octaves and fancy double stops in general, or triple stops. And I don't even bother with 10ths. If a piece has that in it, I'll just move on. My fingers don't really stretch that way. If you want that many notes played at once, get a string quartet.
For the average orchestral player I think a facility for playing octaves in tune (up to the 5th position, say) is valuable in that it enables smooth bowing in broken octaves rather than unseemly bow flapping across non-adjacent strings.
One omission from the list is left-hand pizzicato (beloved of Paganini). This is something I use occasionally in orchestra when a composer (or more often an arranger) hasn't thought through the difficulties involved in an unusually quick changeover between pizzicato and bowing.
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