Wieniawski Etude Caprice 4: difficulty and technical standpoints

February 16, 2018, 8:41 AM · Difficulty? Good piece to practice spiccato and various other techniques?

Replies (4)

February 16, 2018, 9:18 AM · Sure. Sautille and arpeggios.

When I was first learning it I made the mistake of trying to gradually speed up a bouncing stroke. Didn't work for the speed required for this piece. I had to approach it from a different direction: on the string with a very compact stroke, especially to get it started. That's what worked for me. But simply trying to speed up a regular bounce? Not really.

February 16, 2018, 9:50 AM · Does this mean when I practice I shouldn't start bouncing and doing spiccato right away during the slow practice?
Edited: February 16, 2018, 10:18 AM · Due to the speed required, I'd probably recommend learning the notes perfectly by memory so that you can play it reasonably fast detache first.

I like to split up tasks, especially difficult ones. I wouldn't try to both learn the notes well and work on the bow stroke at the same time. Not knowing the notes and being confident with the shifts will just interfere with the bow work. It's a pretty easy piece to memorize, as Wieniawski tends to be due to the repetition of themes.

My mantra to students is to simplify, simplify, simplify. Tear the piece apart, work on each technical problem, and only then put it back together. I think you'll find that if you can play the piece fairly fast with a very tiny detache stroke you can then progress to sautille. It's important to be in the right place in the bow.Start the piece on the string and digging in. But I wouldn't approach it the same way you would the Mozart/Kreisler Rondo, which is slow enough to be a bounce.

While you're working on the notes, shifts, fingerings, etc (of course with the full set of practice rhythms a groupings), you can practice the sautille stroke by itself on one pitch.

It can be a very helpful technique in other situations, such as Paganini Caprice #15 in the B section up-bow staccato. When I learned this piece, I didn't really have a great up-bow staccato (and still don't...). The first run is just a G-major scale, and so it's easy to be fooled into thinking that the notes aren't a problem. But there is still the string crossings. So what I did was actually write out and memorize the string crossings by practicing the stroke on single notes on each string:
BBBB-EEEE-AAAA-DDDDDD. That way my arm learned the string crossings first. Adding the G scale was easy after that. In the second run starting on the high F#, you have the additional problem of the shift, so practicing the run slurred and every other which way without the bow stroke yet makes sense.

As we improve we can practice several skills at once. But sometimes the music demands (at least for me) imaginative ways to split up and solve the individual problems. The alternative for most of us mortals is to bang our heads against the wall out of frustration.

If I pass on anything of meaning to my students, it's that principle.

February 16, 2018, 10:26 AM · Thanks!

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