HAYDN - Piano Trio No. 39 in G major, finding violin part challenging

Edited: April 10, 2019, 6:07 AM · Please tell me the violin part in this gorgeous trio is more difficult than much Hayden chamber music! I will be playing this with a new pick-up chamber group and I'm struggling with it, the fast pace of the last movement, the m any quick shifts and so on. I am a returner around Suzuki level 5/6 if one can identify that way and i'm very excited to have this new group (well it includes my father on cello and we play together often, but a new pianist) and i don't want to mess it up. Any practicing advice or just validation that its not so easy much welcome! I have a teacher but we are doing other work and I don't have a lesson before the chamber session. Thanks in advance

Replies (23)

Edited: April 10, 2019, 11:19 PM · The "Gypsy Rondo " one?
It is "crisp" but lots of fun.

Practice the parts you find tough slowly but aim for the speeds on various recordings (Youtube!). Listen to some. -ACTUALLY - I just checked out what is on Youtube and it is all too fast to aspire to - I would think aiming for a 4 minute last movement would be a good target, but getting it down to 5 minutes should be acceptable to the pianist (the cellist just goes along for the ride so don't worry about him!)

Be sure to use very little bow to make the notes as short as possible.
If your mind has any problem with any fingerings mark them on the music as you discover them.

EDIT: One additional point - when you practice slowly still give the individual notes ONLY the amount of time (and the amount of bow) you would give them if you were playing faster.

April 10, 2019, 10:39 AM · Karen, great and fun piece, playing anything clean and nicely sounding on the violin is challenging, this piece is certainly no exception. Referring to the last movement, where are these many quick shifts you mention? Because that movement is played entirely in first position except for the F#A and GB double stops. Since you asked for a practice tip: Sevcik opus 1 book 1 exercises 1 through 13. Just a little bit every day. And run them by your teacher from time to time to check if you do them correctly (left hand position).
April 10, 2019, 11:07 AM · Hi Karen, I performed this piece a few weeks ago with a trio that was formed under a new program at the local university (where I also teach). We had coaching from the university faculty -- excellent pros. It's a pretty piece. Honestly I found the first movement more difficult (and rewarding) than the third. In the end we didn't perform the third movement at all (long story).

You have to balance the work of learning the parts with the harder work of getting the ensemble together. Unless your pianist has extremely good rhythmic precision, coming together with them in a tight ensemble will be difficult. As Andrew said, don't worry about the cellist -- they'll be with you. The violin and piano have to mesh very closely in this (and all) Haydn. There are only one or two spots that you will need to line up carefully with the cellist. For this reason, if you are having trouble scheduling rehearsals of the full trio, consider rehearsing only with the pianist. Just getting the opening figure of the first movement (unison with the piano!) to sound good will take work.

I also agree with Andrew that the internet videos are all very fast. Are they too fast? Maybe not musically, but if you can't play cleanly at those tempos, then for heaven's sake, don't.

April 10, 2019, 11:48 AM · Yes the "Gypsy Rondo" one! Thanks so much for this input and support! Yes the third movement is the crazy pace but the first and second movements have many shifts and then the 4sharps and I agree the 1st is harder but more interesting. I'm very happy to hear you all think the (fantastic) youtube performances are on the super fast side, I would say especially the 3rd movement. I have about 8 hours to practice beween now and Tuesday when we're playing. I'm combining slow practice for the tough parts with speed practice overall. The vcom threads on practicing a piece in limited time were helpful too. Thanks Andrew for the tip about very little bow. I noticed that dramatically in the youtube clip this morning. Thanks Paul re head up re the difficulty with violin-piano alignment. My father and i have gone through it a few times as a duet (as we have easy access to each other) and that works fine but i can see the challenges ahead. I have tried the 1st movement with earbuds to youtube to get a sense of it. I will look up the Sevcik, Jean, thanks. My teacher has me using the Whistler books for positions/shfiting, is that equivalent?
April 10, 2019, 12:53 PM · Haydn had one excellent violinist in his house orchestra at Esterhazy. Consequently his 1st violin parts in the quartets and symphonies are technically harder than Mozart.
Edited: April 10, 2019, 1:46 PM · Yes, Haydn violin parts are never easy and can be very demanding -- quartets especially. The 1st violin parts are often downright virtuosic -- even in early quartet sets like op. 17 and 27.

When you study Haydn you are essentially seeing state of the art violin technique for the late 18th century -- and the state of the art was really quite high. Haydn played the violin at an extremely high level and probably could play everything he wrote.

It would be really fun sometime to compile an anthology of Haydn's 100 or 200 most difficult violin passages -- a little like Gingold's Orchestral Excerpts.

It would encompass most of the things that terrify violinists today. There are fast runs played in 7th-9th position that have to be played cleanly and elegantly. Nasty leaps, fast runs of ascending octaves, sometimes 10ths. Lots of double stops. There are super intricate bowing patterns that require clean efficient string crossings. Lots of passages that require creative fingerings, fast shifts and good right-hand-left-hand coordination.

And lots of sneaky problems that don't look difficult at first glance -- and then you try to play them. It's almost like you can feel the master looking over your shoulder and enjoying your struggles in his good-humored Haydn way.

And that's just the technical problems -- the musical problems are another big thing -- because the music is rich, deep and infinitely inventive.

If you can play the Haydn quartets (and trios) you are well on your way to being a competent violinist, that's for sure.

April 10, 2019, 2:18 PM · Karen, to answer your question, Sevcik opus 1 is a huge collection of technical exercises on just about everything. Book 1 however is all in first position, I suggested that because in your original post you especially mentioned the last movement which is entirely in first position (which does not mean at all that it is easy). Those exercises 1 to 13 are mainly scales and broken thirds which is essentially what all the fast runs are composed of in that last movement.
April 10, 2019, 3:34 PM · Ahh OK thanks Jean!
April 10, 2019, 4:41 PM · As noted, Haydn 1st violin parts are often quite hard, although the 2nd violin parts of the quartets are often fairly easy. Mozart trios will probably be easier for violin, in the general case.
April 10, 2019, 6:48 PM · Well Lydia maybe that explains why I thought Hayden chamber music was easy, from playing second violin in a Hayden trio recently. I'm feeling some progress, less freaked out, practicing the tough parts today. I'll look at Mozart trios.
Edited: April 10, 2019, 8:15 PM · There is one "virtuosic" section in the first movement -- you know the one. That's one where an extra 5 minutes spent optimizing the fingerings would be good. If you are reading from an urtext with no fingerings, for goodness' sake find an edition with fingerings on IMSLP.

In the second movement it might pay to optimize some of your intonation against the piano especially where you have double stops. The double-stops in the first movement (in the last part where the piano has all the fast notes) are not that important musically so if you are pinched for time, you can cheat on those.

The third movement is just a lotta bow-shaking. The left hand is easy. Work on making sure you're in a good spot in your bow to manage any quick re-takes. And do NOT try to play it as fast as internet versions. It's not Czardas.

April 11, 2019, 6:49 AM · Thank you so very much for these practice tips! I will report back!
April 12, 2019, 2:22 PM · Having worked on and performed (in a modest setting) both Haydn and Mozart trios (G-Major "Gipsy" and C-Major K548 respectively) I have to say that the violin part in the Mozart is definitely harder than in the Haydn. I do agree with the assessment that the first movement (of Haydn) is the hardest.

As to the rondo: I'd not worry too much about the tempo to begin with. Play it at a speed that allows you to play nice and crisp sixteenths. The crispness makes them seem faster. The movement is not actually terribly hard. As you keep working on it your speed will go up almost by itself. I do think there are recordings that are too fast BTW. The movement is full of rhythmic excitement which gets lost if played too fast. The main difficulty to me was to stay absolutely in time with the pianist with whom you play much of the violin part together.

Finally I want to give a shout out to the slow movement: The middle section especially is wonderful, phantastic writing for the violin, an utter joy to play. The key is to play it fast enough (about crotchet = 70 IMO) so that you can shape the melody rather than single notes. Not every recording does it justice.

April 13, 2019, 5:32 AM · Thank you for this Albrecht. I woke up this morning humming the slow movement. At first for me it was just a struggle with the key and the shifts and then yesterday I could start to feel the beauty of it. Great advice re the rondo.
Edited: April 13, 2019, 9:27 AM · I agree with everything Albrecht wrote about the second movement. It is a gleaming gem of the chamber literature. The section where the violin has C#-D-C# ... that line just opens up like clear blue sky. Think about how to apply vibrato and I agree with Albrecht that everything will go better if you do not play this too slowly. The pianist can help also by keeping the bass figure more interesting with some rolling dynamics.

Albrecht also wrote, "The crispness makes them seem faster." This is advice that Perlman famously gave -- people asked him how he plays so fast and he said he doesn't play faster .. he just plays cleaner and it seems faster.

Edited: April 16, 2019, 4:26 PM · Thank you all for your thoughts and practicing tips re this piece. I’m reporting back that we played together for the first time today and it was so much fun! I was able to pull it off without too many mistakes or wild notes, enough so that the pianist wants to keep getting together and working on it, as my father and I do too. He's a very proficient musician but ederly now and not playing as much as he'd like. My father and I feel lucky he is into doing this with us! He asked if i'm working on any sonatas and he would be happy to do the piano part for. Fun! The slow movement is beautiful with the piano, and, just as you say Paul that line opens up and sings. We worked on that a few times over. It swells and recedes so nicely. The pianist picked up the pace of the last movement somehow and I was practically bouncing off my chair to keep up but that was fun too.
Edited: April 16, 2019, 11:01 PM · That third movement actually has a few left-hand pizzicato notes, which is really what makes it legitimate violin music. Sadly Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms never caught on to the critical necessity of incorporating this virtuosic musical element. It took the unbridled genius of composers like Pablo Sarasate to establish this fundamental truth.

On a more serious note if you can put a quartet together I really recommend Haydn Op. 20 especially No. 5 (F Minor).

April 17, 2019, 5:24 AM · I just listened to it Paul its beautiful. I hope to find more people for chamber music over time. We're just moving to live part time near my father and there is a big music community here. My motivation for restarting lessons this year was to be good enough for chamber groups.
Edited: April 17, 2019, 6:39 AM · I've found chamber music, even Haydn and Mozart, to be pretty difficult. The demands for clean articulation, even phrasing, and intonation are severe. And some of it is really fast. That said, my goal is the same as yours -- I want to improve to the point where I can actually play at least some of it.
April 17, 2019, 7:39 AM · A good trio to work on after this one is Beethoven op. 11 - beautiful piece and not so insanely difficult in the piano part as a lot of later works tend to be. Also Three Nocturnes by Ernest Bloch if you're into something modern.
Edited: April 18, 2019, 6:02 AM · Great recommendation Stan i listened to the Beethoven and it sounds quite do-able for my father and my level and i'm sure for the pianist. I played lots of chamber music in my first violin life - as a teenager i went to Apple Hill i think it was for the whole summer. I loved it. As a returner after a 50 year break I'm just getting there but not where i was yet.
April 18, 2019, 6:49 AM · Schubert's First Trio D898 is very special as well. Have never played it, but love listening to it!
April 20, 2019, 5:50 AM · The Schubert is beautiful but i think the violin part is beyond me at this time. Something to aspire to!

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