Mozart Violin Concerto No.4 Cadenza Recommendations?

Edited: April 18, 2018, 12:21 PM · Hi All!

I am currently working on the first movement of Mozart's Violin Concerto No.4 up against a timeline(need to perform it in 4 weeks). I have learned but not yet polished the bulk of the movement, but have not yet started to study the cadenza. Since my Barenreiter score only comes with Joachim's and Auer's, I probably want to choose between the two.

My teacher's opinion is that both are "pushing my upper limit" in terms of technique and that Joachim's one seems easier, but she herself has not played either of them(she only studied Mozarts No.5 before) so she is letting me decide.

Any recommendations and/or suggestions?

Edit: I have the option to perform from the score, as memorisation is kind of (very) difficult as I have a great number of other pieces to practice and perform as well. Not quite sure if this is relevant information though...

Replies (15)

April 18, 2018, 7:03 AM · You are performing this concerto in four weeks, have not yet started studying the cadenza, and your teacher's opinion is that the Joachim cadenza (which I agree is easier than Auer) is "pushing your upper limits?" Yikes.

Under those circumstances, I do not recommend that you attempt performing either cadenza.

Strongly recommend that you get a copy of Robert Levin's cadenza ASAP and learn that one. It's stylistic and playable. The sheet music is available to order, and you can hear it on youtube.

Edited: April 18, 2018, 7:05 AM · Joachim is the common cadenza, and probably should be the one to learn now. If you want to learn alternative cadenzas in the future, you could.

EDIT: Take Mary Ellen's advice for what to perform. (By the way, my teacher generally recommends starting the cadenza of a concerto right about the time you start learning a work, since it's often significantly more difficult than the rest of the movement, and therefore needs maximum practice time.)

April 18, 2018, 7:21 AM · I suggest you compose your own cadenza, because many violinists do so.
April 18, 2018, 7:32 AM · Take a look at Oistrakh's edition for Moazart's #4, which includes Joachim's and Ferdinand David's version, which is very nice and has less notes to memorize. Very good "performance" edition (and cadenzas), IMHO.

(I do suspect the Levin one mentioned above may be easier to learn in such a short period of time, however.)

April 18, 2018, 10:51 AM · Do you have to play a cadenza? I know, shocking question...but if I were you, I'd want to focus on memory, bow control, intonation, really dialing in the interpretation, etc. That concerto is deceptively challenging. (see what Nate Cole has to say about it here:

The last distraction you need at this point is an additional technical challenge, especially one that your teacher thinks is a bit beyond your capacity.

April 18, 2018, 11:14 AM · You could cobble together a cadenza from one or two of the themes in the score and end with the appropriate trill to bring the ensemble back in. You don't have to play a cadenza that proves you are as good as Joachim or Auer.
Did anyone ever actually hear Auer perform?
April 18, 2018, 1:02 PM · Performing without cadenza is certainly an option under the circumstances.
Edited: April 19, 2018, 8:05 AM · As tutti violino and Andrew Victor said above, compose your own cadenza that is interesting and at a level you can perform. You could start from scratch, but if you haven't composed before, start with Joachim's, pull out the challenging sections and write your own. Get some inspiration from Oistrakh, and David, and phrases in Mozart #4 that you enjoy.

Mozart would have done something like this. He improvised in his performances. Bring it back.

April 19, 2018, 10:56 AM · With respect, composing one's own cadenza may be a viable option for a professional, an experienced amateur with a lot of time, or a student with guidance from a teacher *and* a very long timeline.

It is not a viable option for the OP.

The OP is a young person with a performance scheduled in *four weeks,* and who has given us no reason to think he has any compositional experience whatsoever. The Joachim cadenza is at the upper end of his technique ability, per his teacher. If this were my student, I would give him two choices: learn a short, easy cadenza, or no cadenza at all.

Improvisation was a great skill in Mozart's day. It is not so today. It is the rare violin teacher indeed who would be comfortable guiding a student in either improvisation or composition, and definitely not on a four week timeline from zero to performance.

To put this into context, I would not put myself in a situation where I had to write and perform a cadenza in the space of just under a month. It isn't in my skill set. It isn't in my students' skill sets either, and it is *definitely* not in my area of teaching expertise.

Edited: April 20, 2018, 8:08 AM · Mary Ellen,
Lets put this in perspective. Chao Peter Yang has a recital. Its not an audition to enter Julliard or to get a paying position in an orchestra. He is allowed to read from a score.

You are correct that improvisation is not a common skill today among violinists. Yet, improvisation is commonly taught for a variety of other instruments. So how does it get re-started for violinists? You said, "I would not put myself in a situation ... to write a cadenza" Most teachers won't.

So it has to start with youth in low risk situations. The suggestions have been to "cobble together" phrases from other sources to create something original and playable. This is an afternoon's work, after he finishes practicing (versus watching TV). Since he wrote it, likely he can play it in a month. The teacher or piano accompanist could check to see that the student's notes stay in the correct key and chords.

Rather than your 2 stated choices to a student, these situations deserve support for a student to expand their skills, their interest in music, their feeling of accomplishment, their feeling of self worth. With a modicum of guidance, there is very little lasting down side.

April 20, 2018, 1:35 PM · "Improvisation was a great skill in Mozart's day. It is not so today" - Len Elschenbroich had me on the edge of my seat with his improvised cadenza(s) to the Haydn. No fireworks, but incredible musicianship expressed with perfect control and judgement of timings, etc.
April 20, 2018, 2:36 PM · My teacher composes his own cadenzas sometimes, and despite being experienced at doing so, I am pretty darn sure that he can't do so in a casual afternoon's work.

He's also encouraged me to do so in cases where cadenzas are short -- for instance, there are Mozart works where the expected cadenza is just a couple of bars. I think this quite a different situation; you can fill in a few bars with what is effectively just a bit of arpeggiation and a cadence. It's not like writing a full-fledged cadenza. (And note that I've had enough music theory and composition that the concepts of what to do are not alien to me.)

Take Mary Ellen's advice, OP.

April 21, 2018, 7:05 PM · The Joachim cadenza does not seem all that hard until you realize that it's about half as long as the entire concerto movement and there aren't really any breaks in it.

With four weeks to showtime I think I would spend time on the actual stuff that Mozart wrote since you said that's not polished yet. Writing your own cadenza is a neat idea ... but not here, not now.

April 21, 2018, 9:24 PM · I performed a cadenza that I wrote when I performed the 1st mvt of Mozart 3 with my schools orchestra. I composed it only two days before. It definitely wasn't as difficult as the one in my muisc (Franko), but both my conductor (who also teaches theory and AP theory, both of which I've taken) and my private lesson teacher thought it was good enough to use. I'd advise against composing one though unless you understand harmonic progressions and whatnot.
Edited: April 28, 2018, 12:13 PM · Update:
After trying to learn Joachim's Cadenza with my teacher, and consulting the replies here, my teacher and I have come to the conclusion to attempt to learn the cadenza anyways -- she said that it wasn't as hard as she thought it would be for me -- and see what will happen after two weeks. If no significant progress has been made, then the concerto would be played without a cadenza.

Regarding the option of composing my own cadenza
I have certainly considered the option to do so, not to mention that I have done it for my Haydn concerto with the help of my teacher, but that is, as Mary Ellen mentioned, currently unviable, since I would take a huge amount of time, which as a senior high school student going into the finals, not possible.

Both my teacher and I have the incentive to play Joachim's cadenza, as the audiences will all be Hungarian...

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