August 6, 2019, 1:24 AM · Hello all,
I have 2 questions about encores. First is, do they all have to be sort of quick pieces like Kreisler or can they be longer, such as Ravel's Tzigane?
Second is, does anyone have any encorey type pieces for the viola that are original?


Replies (10)

August 6, 2019, 6:48 AM · I think Tzigane is too long and deep for an encore.

When you say original, do you mean pieces we've written?

August 6, 2019, 7:35 AM · Leave them wanting more!

I think honest ovations that warrant encores deserve a piece of music the audience likes so much that whenever you leave the stage for the night yoy leave them wanting more. Tailoring your encore choices to audience preferences usually works best.

August 6, 2019, 9:19 AM · I think it depends what you mean by "encore".

Vengerov, for instance, divides his recitals into two halves. The first half is what is advertised and in the program, and contains the usual modern serious programs of sonatas et.al. The second half is all "encores", and it contains the often-virtuosic fun stuff. It is not in the program; he announces the works himself.

If you are playing a solo recital, any "encore"-type works should be planned out, even if you do not put them in the program.

If you are playing in a shared recital, you need to clear any encores with the organizer in advance. Expect that you may be told not to play an encore, since the recital generally needs to be a particular length. (Often rented venues have time constraints.)

On rare occasion, soloists perform an encore after a concerto with orchestra. Hahn does this more often than others, and she normally plays unaccompanied Bach -- i.e. no need to rehearse with the orchestra. She keeps it short, because she's adding to the program length (and union musicians are on a clock).

Tzigane runs more than 10 minutes and requires nontrivial accompaniment, so it's entirely inappropriate as a post-concerto encore. Also, it is tiring, and thus not a great choice after doing something that is already fatiguing.

No encore should run more than 5 minutes, I think.

August 6, 2019, 9:26 AM · You could follow the path of Hilary Hahn and play the Chaconne twice as an encore.
August 6, 2019, 1:05 PM · It depends on the rest of the program.

By far, the most effective encore performance I've ever heard was by pianist Igor Levit. He had just finished Prokofiev's 2nd piano concerto, a blazing inferno of pyrotechnics with so much hammering on the keyboard that we were amazed the piano was still standing by the end. So how does he follow up on something that energetic and flashy? By playing the most patient and sublime rendition of the Aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations, that's how. It was the perfect complement to what had occurred before.

Sometimes less is more.

August 6, 2019, 10:27 PM · @Paul Deck, I mean something that is originally written for the viola (ie not an arrangement).
@Lydia Leong, I understand about Tzigane, it was just the first thing I thought of. I meant something virtuosic (ish). I also agree about planning it out. In my youth orchestra my conductor would always plan out an encore for our main concert of the year.
@Andrew Victor, I agree with your point about leaving them wanting more.
@Madeye Hibbit, I think contrast is a good thing. My view is people want to see different sides to you as a musician. Not just flash stuff, but the emotive side to you as well
August 7, 2019, 6:18 AM · Appalachian waltz by Mike O'Connor is available in a viola version (as well as violin and cello). Not originally for viola I think, but at least arranged by the composer.

You could also play a movement from one of Regers solo suites.

August 7, 2019, 6:37 AM · Playing something like Tzigane as an encore might run the risk of looking presumptuous. Agree it's best to leave things on a lighter note.
August 7, 2019, 11:31 AM · Please please do not play Tzigane as an encore under any circumstances. It's completely inappropriate. Too long, too heavy, too much.

Five minutes or less is the appropriate length. Remember, encores by definition aren't in the program. People haven't included them in mental calculations regarding babysitters, bus schedules, or even just when they will be able to use a restroom.

As much as I enjoy it when our guest soloists play encores, I'm also aware that my arrival home is delayed by exactly the length of the encore.

August 7, 2019, 12:26 PM · Calling your pieces from the stage may work for Vengerov, but I don't recommend it for an amateur. It would be super fakey anyway since everyone knows you don't have the kind of repertoire where you can pick tunes on the spot.

Is there a second movement of a viola concerto that would be short enough for this purpose? Violinists do this with the Canzonetta from the Tchaikovsky and the Romance from the Wieniawski, you could argue it's an abuse to use a concerto movement that way, but I don't think so. Yuri Bashmet uses the so-called Grave by Benda (which was not written by Benda, nor was it likely written for viola, so you won't want it, but that's an example of the type of piece I'm talking about.)

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