Is suitability of character important in choosing a violin sonata?
I'm selecting a full violin sonata for a local violin competition, and am undecided whether to choose Brahms' Violin Sonata No. 3 or one of the Beethoven Sonatas. My violin teacher believes that my character is not really suitable for the former, which is rather dark and complex, and thus proposed that I learn one of Beethoven's sonatas instead. Despite that, I really feel for the Brahms, having wanted to play it for quite a while now.
So, coming to the main question: how important is one's innate "character" in selecting a violin sonata, or any of my competition repertoire?
Thanks a lot!
Could it be she is thinking about the compatibility you have when playing with partners and your ability to "converse" the harmonies?
I'm not a believer in the mystical relationship between personal temperament and the way we play music, personally.
I think Lydia's points are good. The question I would ask is which one can you play best with an accompanist. You may need to try a Beethoven and a Brahms out with a pianist to see which one seems to work best for you. Since it is a competition, I would always suggest whichever one is easier and you can play with the most confidence. To me, that is the test rather than which one best suits your temperament/character.
I guess I disagree with the above: by character I think your teacher is referring to your musical strengths: the expression that comes easiest to you. Perhaps what s/he is saying is that the musical line is evident even when you sight read Beethoven but is confused with the Brahms.
I think for almost all violinists, certain pieces are a better match to their assets than others. For example, if you can play very clear and crisp, you will shine on pieces that require that skill, like Mozart and Haydn. If you are great at shaping, emoting, and so forth, you might shine on pieces that are later Romantic. If your left hand can play crazy well, you might shine on show pieces. I'm guessing this is what your teacher means by character. For a competition, I think it is probably best to show off your assets; however, away from competitions, you would do better to practice those that don't in order to increase your vocabulary of assets!
My thought on competitions: If you think a win is extremely probable and choice of repertoire would impact whether you are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, then choose the repertoire for best advantage.
I don't know what character or personality is needed to play the Brahms, but the technical tools needed are a good vibrato and controlled shifts using the portamento, expressive slides.
I suppose it depends on the motivations for entering the competition.
Thanks everyone for your valuable pieces of the advice!
@Scott I fully agree that a professional musician should be versatile enough to adapt to a wide variety of works.