So I searched online for performances of danse macabre, and was surprised to see that the soloist always remained seated. Is this normal?
The awkward part here is that our first violin section for that piece is reduced to only two players. The way we have rehearsed it is with the third chair 1st moving forward to share the first desk with the second chair first, and I have been standing. We also had to un-divide the parts at letter G because it sounds awkward with only one instrument on each part there.
Yes. What Malcolm said. It's the same sort of solo as Scheherezade, Heldenleben (although definitely shorter and easier than either of those), or the solo in the slow movement of Brahms 1. It's a concertmaster solo printed in the parts, played by the concertmaster in the course of the orchestral performance, not by a special soloist. It isn't a concerto.
Re Malcolm not sure what you mean by it being written that way. The solo violin part I'm reading omits the first violin parts, and the first violin part omits the solo.
It's a community orchestra. We do a lot of stuff like that. Last season we played Jupiter by Holst, if that tells you anything.
The nature of the solo violin part (the E string is tuned down to E-flat) means that the typical orchestra parts for this (including the Kalmus which is available on IMSLP) separate the solo violin part from the violin 1 part (and remind the solo violin to play notes that would normally be on the E string, on the A string, due to the scordatura). There are plenty of long rests that facilitate turning pages, though, so it's feasible to put two parts on a single stand in order to not require giving the concertmaster their own stand. But the way this seems to commonly be done is that the concertmaster gets a stand to themselves and the alignment of the first violin section is slightly altered to accommodate fitting in more "horizontal" space for the extra stand.
Thanks, Lydia. Looks like I have a puzzle to figure out now. Separating the two 1sts doesn't seem like it would work, so perhaps I should plan on setting up camp next to the 1sts. 1sts in the front with me and 2nds behind us.
Form a semi circle slightly larger than the usual semicircle formed by the front desks. You, the pair of first violins, seconds, violas, cello. Additional stands lined up behind the front desks. Very simple.
You can actually play that solo part also with a normally tuned violin, and then play along when it is tutti. When you have only 3 violinists, this may make sense.
Or you can do the solo tuning and simply shift up for the tutti parts. There's an IMSLP rendition that conveniently puts both the solo and tutti parts in a single combined part.
Yes, Jean, but it changes the tone colour totally
Malcolm somehow I expect the loyal audience of the 3-violin community orchestra under discussion not to be too scandalized about getting served the stopped-string version instead of the open-string version of the danse macabre ;-)
Actually, for each violin solo, the violinist arises from a coffin placed next to the conductor.
Oh, yeah, you're right. There's the four-string bit. The soloist could drop out for it, or reach up half a step for the E string note. The violins aren't divisi there, so you'd still have two on the part even without the soloist.
The intent is absolutely "fiddler from hell." The violin was traditionally considered the devil's instrument and Saint-Saens is making reference to this in the instrumentation. The diminished fifth in the scordatura tuning is another reference (the "devil's interval"). I can't imagine this piece without the scordatura tuning.
I think the last time I did that one I used two violins, regular and scordatura. We used two stands at the front desk, and I did both the solo and tutti parts.
Thought Danse MacAbre was a Highland Scottish dance.
"Thought Danse MacAbre was a Highland Scottish dance. "