Audience-pleasers

July 25, 2019, 5:02 PM · I'm pondering repertoire for the upcoming season and thinking about some good crowd-pleasers. (Think "music that elderly concert-goers love." Last season I did the Franck sonata, which was a hit.)

I'm looking for two contrasting works that are each about 4 or 5 minutes long (not to exceed 10 minutes total) and which could preferably be thematically related, or a single work of under 10 minutes. Works (possibly multi-movement) that don't exceed 20 minutes might also be okay. Can be difficult but I probably don't have the patience for virtuosic. The piano accompaniment can require practice but shouldn't be exasperatingly difficult.

The context for this: I often have opportunities to play in shared recitals / chamber-music concerts where 10 to 20 minutes is a good length, but there's not 30 minutes available to perform a full sonata. (For this season my chosen sonata is Faure No. 1). I'm doing as many such concerts as possible as part of my stage-fright desensitization personal project.

(Other stuff I'm performing this year: Shostakovich No. 1 which is my "pedagogical" concerto which I'll only do in student recital; Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, which I'm performing with my community orchestra; the Dvorak Piano Quintet; the Schumann Piano Quartet; Rachmaninoff Trio Elegaic No. 1; and the Reger Clarinet Quintet.)

Replies (16)

Edited: July 25, 2019, 5:20 PM · Zigeunerweisen (Sarasate)
Romance from Wieniawski #2
Scherzo Tarantella (Wieniawski)
Bartok Rumanian Dances
Preludium and Allegro (Kreisler)
Tambourin Chinois (Kreisler)
etc
etc

When I played informal concerts at my mother's assisted living facility, mostly I played hymns, Broadway tunes, patriotic songs, and so on, but I always included Thais and Czardas. I'm sure you could do either of those in your sleep but they do fit the "crowd-pleaser" category.

Edited: July 25, 2019, 5:32 PM · Hackneyed as they may be, I find that elderly concertgoers LOVE the Four Seasons. Spring and Winter might be good (as each one is about 10 minutes apiece, if I recall correctly).
July 25, 2019, 5:55 PM · I know the works on Mary Ellen's list, and am wanting to add new things, though I've only done the Wieniawski works in studio recitals and they might be worth braving in public. (I was really unhappy with the Scherzo-Tarantelle performance I did -- sheer terror was a big problem.)

Four Seasons is a future tentative plan for performance with orchestra.

July 25, 2019, 6:01 PM · I always use Smetana - Aus der Heimat No2 in the Peters edition - as played by Ricci in his 1950s virtuoso showpieces.
If your pianist is up to it
Sounds far harder than it is.
July 25, 2019, 9:57 PM · "Obertass" Mazurka.

Oistrakh did a recording of all the Tchaikovsky salon pieces -- there are some real gems in there. The easiest one by far is the Melodie.

If you want to go a little lighter in character, how about one or two of the innumerable Heifetz arrangements? Many are featured on Perlman's "violin encores" album. For example the arrangements of the Gershwin piano preludes. (I guarantee your pianist already knows them thoroughly.) The tune "It Ain't Necessarily So" is a gorgeous piece also.

Everyone loves the Drdla Souvenir.

July 25, 2019, 10:28 PM · A few things that come to mind:

The Kreisler collections have some really nice pieces- easy generally, and also easy to edit out the harder measures if needed- Shepherd's Madrigal, Midnight Bells, Dancing Dolls, Song of India, etc. are lovely sentimental pieces

When Paul mentioned Heifetz, it reminded me of Girl with the Flaxen Hair, another piece full of character but not very difficult.
Wieniawski, Legende
Hindemith's solo sonatas
Etudes- Rode, Kreisler 13, etc.

I'm sure I'll think of more as I'm drifting off to sleep.

July 25, 2019, 10:31 PM · Would you excerpt individual movements from Sonatas? The Franck lovers might like a movement or two from one of the Brahms sonatas. And the Thaïs Meditation could be a nice compliment to one of Mary Ellen’s showier suggestions.
July 25, 2019, 11:41 PM · Have you played Dvorak Romance in F? It's a gorgeous piece. It's a little technical in spots, but not like Paganini or anything.
July 25, 2019, 11:43 PM · Oh yes, the Heifetz arrangements of Gershwin songs from Porgy and Bess are challenging, and fun for both soloist and audience.
July 26, 2019, 12:05 AM · Thanks, folks.

I've played the Dvorak Romance previously, yes. I did the Tchaikovsky Meditation a little while ago but haven't played the Melodie. (I have sort of wanted to do the Valse-Scherzo but my teacher deems it to require a lot of practice time for an insufficiently rewarding result.) The Gershwin suggestion is excellent. I love the Drdla Souvenir; I planned to put it on a recital program back in my 20s, learned it, and never got around to presenting that recital (I was going to split a program with a friend of mine).

Malcolm, I'd never heard that Smetana work before. Really enjoyed listening to it. Thanks!

July 28, 2019, 7:21 AM · Kreisler’s aucassin. And Nicolette always seems to be popular.
Dvorak’s four romantic pieces are absolutely gorgeous
The songs without words of both Felix and fanny Mendelssohn.
Estrellita as arranged by Heifetz.
Edited: July 28, 2019, 8:13 AM · Elderly-crowd pleasers, lol!
Coincidentally last night I looked at a book I bought a few weeks ago in a charity shop called The Golden Album of Violin solos. It contains things like the Boccherini menuet, Mendelssohn's Spring Song, Gossec's Gavotte and Schubert's Serenade, and I thought, Jeez, talk about tearoom music from the 30s!
Edited: July 28, 2019, 9:20 AM · My absolute favorite audience pleaser to both play and listen to is the Schubert B minor Rondo. Crazy harmony changes throughout, nice balance between melody/counterpoint, and easily one of the most exciting endings of all literature!
July 28, 2019, 9:47 AM · Although I have never played it, I really love Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 79. I think the Souvenir is very beautiful. Here is a great recording on YouTube. https://youtu.be/zd84QuD0E64

All the best with your recital planning and prep.

Edited: July 28, 2019, 11:05 AM · Corelli La Follia was the clear crowd pleaser in a similar recital with many of of the pieces already listed above. You can pick and choose the variations. Or Vitali Chaconne.

July 28, 2019, 2:48 PM · And of course pieces they will recognise.
Schindler's List
Thais meditation.
I was once asked to play at a wedding for my daughter's friend.
Found there wasn't a lot for one violin, so got a couple of books for two violins, and asked a friend.
Went down a treat.


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