Brahms - music for violin

April 4, 2019, 9:29 PM · What do you think makes Brahms's violin compositions so challenging for the right hand?

Replies (6)

April 4, 2019, 10:36 PM · Harder than?
April 4, 2019, 10:51 PM · I don't think Brahms is as hard for the right hand as Mozart is.
April 4, 2019, 10:51 PM · Vivaldi I suppose.
April 5, 2019, 12:30 PM · The fact that you don't play like James Barton?
Edited: April 5, 2019, 12:33 PM · Which Brahms compositions are we talking about? I don't find his violin sonatas (2 and 3 at any rate) particularly challenging for the right hand (at least, certainly not any more than its contemporary sonatas). If you play enough solo Bach (or, as Mary Ellen noted, Mozart concertos), I believe you will feel the same.

If you're talking about his VC, well...can't help you there, brother.

April 5, 2019, 1:14 PM · For right hand? There are challenges maintaining a good sostenuto, there are challenges shaping and lengthening phrases. But I agree, for bow technique Mozart, unaccompanied Bach and Beethoven are probably more demanding.

I'm speaking of Brahms chamber music -- sonatas, quartets, trios, quintets, sextets.... The toughest passages I find are usually left hand difficulty -- some difficult leaps, awkward shifts, writing that doesn't necessarily lie well.

And from the standpoint of a chamber music player, what makes Brahms difficult is maintaining ensemble through very tricky rhythms (if you succeed, the audience hears none of the difficulty) and getting balance and intonation worked out so that Brahms' incredibly gorgeous modulations and suspensions are made clear.

BTW the Brahms viola quintets and sextets are something everybody should have on their bucket list. Very very hard to read -- they really need to be studied by individual players before you sit down together. But if you have five people who can really play (and really COUNT), there's almost nothing in the 19th century repertoire that is more rewarding -- and rewarding for every single player. They're lyrical beyond measure, exuberant, dark and mysterious, cerebral, incredibly deep.


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