Sunday I had my first opportunity to play with a decent quartet. It came about rather interestingly: during a visit to the luthier that made Gravitas (yup my violin), John Newton, who also makes violas, I asked him if he had ever made a cello - turns out he had and one was actively played here in Toronto by a friend. So we semi-joked about getting a quartet of his instruments together. Well, the idea took root - and very fortunate for me indeed because else it would be rather unlikel that I would have ended up spending an afternoon immersed in Mozart, Haydn and a bunch of pickup pieces. Followed by pots of tea, olive bread and a wonderful oozie goats cheese brought by our cellist.
Which is not the purpose of this topic at all (I'm just still over the moon about it) but that we two violins alternated playing first and second. We had the main pieces for several weeks beforehand so this part was reasonably well practised - while I could listen to the music on you tube I definitely could not imagine the experience of playing the same. Those of you used to this may find this rather ordinary - but the experience of each desk was so radically different. I am naturally something of an out-there person and gravitate towards the solo - so I knew I was going to like playing first. What I had not expected was the amazingly different, and equally satisfying, experience of 2nd. With the viola to my left providing me with a lot of guidance, and mostly-solo 1st on my right I was part of this throbbing organism. It was not what I expected - I've played 2nd in an orchestra and felt like a forgotten organ - an appendix if you like that was never noticed until it needed surgery! In a quartet this is place of melding and almost scary power - your voice is generally not heard individually but you are the fabric. It seemed the 2nd and viola work as a close team - in our case it was rather one-sided but my ear was definitely more aligned to John's viola than to the 1st violin. With experience I'm sure that will change and I will hear all four instruments but thats how it was.
Oops. This has become a blog not a discussoin. Sorry for the lenght, just SOO enthused.
So which do you prefer - 1st or 2nd, which was the original objective of this topic (if anyone is still reading that is (where is the embarassed emoticon when you need it)....
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.