Spicing Dvorak Humoresque for violin and orchestra
in an earlier post I asked for suggestions for a piece for violin and orchestra for my seven year old daughter, who is currently finishing Suzuki book 4.
The conductor felt the pieces of book 4 (Seitz, Vivaldi) were not suitable for the orchestra, and chose Dvorak's Humoresque from Book 3, and has already written a nice orchestral arrangement from the piano part.
I find the Suzuki transcription in the key of D a bit bland and repetitive (especially in the hands of my seven year old) but the good thing is that it lends itself to rearranging, which is what I'm trying to do now. I listened to several interpretations on Youtube (Kreisler, Heifetz, Barton-Pine, Perlman, Hassid, Vengerov, Elman, Stern, Garret,...), all in G flat or G, and looked at the transcriptions of IMSLP.
Below are our ideas, I'd love to receive some comments and/or more ideas:
- Go up one octave in the repetition of the first 8 measures, and in the last 8 measures of the piece. This is not only to add variety, but also to make the violin stand out more above the orchestra, as the register is quite low in the key of D.
- Portamento: F# to F# in measure 13, and A to D in the last measure are obvious places. Any other good places?
- Ornamentations: measure 54 as Kreisler does (A# B C before the B), what else?
- Double stops (fourths) in measures 28, 32, and 40. Thirds are out of the question, my daughter can't play them yet.
- Change tempo in different parts (to be discussed with conductor)
I thought too late of raising everything a fifth, very easy to do for the violin...
Your daughter is seven?
I agree with Mary Ellen. The only thing I'd consider changing, for a kid who is comfortable shifting, is making more artistic fingering choices rather than strictly pedagogical/convenience fingerings. And maybe the occasional ornament.
I agree with Mary Ellen and Lydia, especially Lydia's comment: This is an excellent opportunity to learn to play more musically so it doesn't sound bland. I doubt that being currently working on book 4 that she can play the Humoresque musically, and it may not be wise to make it even harder on her. She will far more impress the audience with a beautiful tone and mastery control than (potentially) poorly executed complexity.
I will add my support for what Mary Ellen, Lydia and Roger have said -- be kind to your daughter and don't fancy it up just because you can. Your daughter should feel so confident when she walks out on stage in front of the orchestra that no matter what happens (in the audience or to her nerves) she will be able to ace.
Thank you all for your replies. Let me add a bit of context:
All the posters above are spot on: what you want to do at this point to keep the piece from sliding into negligence is to find ways to make it not necessarily "fancier" but always better, musically and technically. I'm sure you've talked with the teacher about this, but there are probably specific things such as dynamics, bow strokes, projection, and rhythmic articulations to tighten up for effectiveness. At the same time though--if she can add a portamento, or an octave, or an ornamentation, *as a natural extension* of her musical concept, I think there's no reason why not! *as long as* she is not pushing for the techniques to the detriment of the piece. The teacher will be a good judge of what makes sense for her.
Exactly what Kathryn said. It's also not that repetitive. It's an A-B-A form.
Ditto the above. Regarding tempo, Suzuki has ritards marked in musically appropriate spots, but even then I would limit it. The orchestra might have enough to do in terms of being coached to accompany in general. It would not be surprising for a mixed level student group to rush, not watch, play too loud, not watch, play through rests, cut off sustained notes, play out of style, not watch, etc. Prior performance experience is definitely useful but this isn't like playing with a proficient pianist who adjusts to you on the fly.
If you have a recording of your daughter playing the humoresque, it would help situate the discussion perhaps.
I can’t post recordings, sorry. I’d say she plays it like a Book 4 student. She has good intonation and she’s very good at fast pieces requiring dexterity, and less so at slow, expressive romantic pieces requiring wide, lush vibrato. So we will be definitely be working to improve the vibrato.
I don't think key or form or the arrangement has anything to do with the
"less so at slow, expressive romantic pieces requiring wide, lush vibrato"
I would be somewhere beyond annoyed if the parent of a young student came to me with proposed "enhancements" of an upcoming performance piece, with the not-so-subtly implied subtext that the piece was too easy for their child.
You are making a lot of assumptions. As it turns out, the teacher agrees with my general idea and I'm trying to work out the specifics. Thanks to all that helped me that without jumping on me!
I agree with Mary Ellen. (I also realize you're not a musician, Matteo, but ABA is the *form* of the work. The phrase structure is different, but musicians normally talk about the form and not a phrase-by-phrase thing, except to the extent that we talk about mirroring phrases and the like.)
It really is a rather common phase for little kids, I think. My daughter did not want to perform anything "easy" from age 5 to 8. When she was finishing up Book 4, she wanted to perform Kreisler and Bartok and she did. She sounded pretty horrible but that didn't exactly stop her.