Which concertos before the Tchaikovsky
Which concertos should I play before I start Tchaikovsky?
Bruch, Lalo, Mendelssohn, possibly Conus, two of Mozart 3,4,5, Viotti 22/23, Vieuxtemps 4, and Wieniawski 2. Shouldn't take you more than a couple of months.
Could also do Sibelius as well. It's in that group of concerti that includes the Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Beethoven. Although you should only do the Sibelius after you have done all the ones that Paul has listed.
Most of them.
I've done Bruch, Mozart 4 and 5, Saint Saens 3, Lalo, Mendelssohn. Can I start the Tchaikovsky?
What does your teacher say?
Some people teach Paganini No. 1 before Tchaikovsky or the other "big concertos". I guess the assumption is that if you can get through the Sauret cadenza, you can probably handle most things.
How hard is the Sauret cadenza, how long approximately will take one to learn it
What's the difficulty of Paganini 1 like, setting aside pedagogical considerations? Is the difficulty more like "technically harder than Tchaikovsky, but musically easier?" or is it more like "Bigger jumps, but on the other hand, it was written by a violinist"?
Paganini 1 is a b*tch, and Sauret's cadenza is murderous. I found it to be far harder than Tchaikovsky and arguably harder than Brahms, actually, for sheer technical feats. This might be because Paganini tends to require stretches which I really have trouble with, and the forests of thirds hit me smack in my I-suck-at-double-stops weakness. (I gave up on my first go-round with Paganini 1 in my 20s after getting through a good chunk of the first movement. With my second, more recent attempt, my teacher basically assigned the toughest sections in the 1st movement first on the grounds they'd need the most work. Doing all those thirds proved to be very useful but ultimately I decided I'd rather spend my time doing something else.)
Paganini 1 seems a bit easier than all the big dogs, if we exclude the Sauret's cadenza. Maybe I should learn it but with a different cadenza? I have big hands so stretches aren't a problem for me.
You seem awfully eager if not impatient to start the Tchaikovsky. Okay so you've done Bruch, Lalo, Mozart 4 and 5, Saint Saens 3, and Mendelssohn. I'd say Wieniawski 2 would be one you need to do still. And since I'm not the only one who thinks so, I'd say you should do the Sibelius before Tchaikovsky. Once you've done Wienawski 2 and Sibelius then I'd say it's a good idea to go ahead and do Tchaikovsky. I plan on playing the Mendelssohn and Wieniawski next semester (my professor wants to push me next semester to do two concertos since I was able to do the whole Bruch concerto this semester). The thing with Wieniawski 2 is that although it's harder than Mendelssohn it has some things in it that help you play the Mendelssohn easier. Which is why some teachers like doing it and sometimes Saint Saens 3 before tackling the Mendelssohn. However if you truly want to do Tchaikovsky that bad then I would agree with Lydia and say do the Paganini 1. It's fairly difficult, but if you can do then Tchaik will be much easier. Another fast track you could is again the Sibelius and then the Tchaik.
A very good alternative to Sauret cadenza, better musically and a lot shorter is the Wilhelmj. It's the one I did when I was 14 studying with Josef Gingold.
So I bought the sheet music for Paganini 1 (came with Suaret cadenza) and kind of gave it a light read-through for funsies.
Try reading Wieniawski 2, or Vieuxtemps 4/5, and see how those feel, James. You can get them from IMSLP.
I played Vieuxtemps 5 about 6 months ago, not to performance polish, but I actually got through those stupid descending octaves and 4 string chords. It was quite difficult, but in a sense I think it played to my strengths as a player and stayed away from some weaknesses. That combined with Ysaye 2 kind of gave me my fill of the French guys for the time being, so I'm going to give Wieniawski and Saint-Saens a miss for now.
I played Mozart 4, Bach E Major, Viotti 22, Bruch, Saint Saens 3, Mendelssohn, and Scottish Fantasy Before Tchaik. In some respects, I feel that the Mendelssohn is more difficult than the Tchaikovsky as you are not very exposed in some of the most difficult sections of the Tchaikovsky. If it is in reach, definitely learn it as you seem very eager. My teacher has always said that a student will play a slightly more difficult piece much better than an easier piece if they are more motivated to play the difficult one (i.e. Tchaikovsky vs Vieuxtemps). Of course this must be reasonable, for example, a student struggling on Lalo trying to play the Beethoven may be disastrous. But go for it if you and your teacher think you're capable!
Ray Chen does not play sauret cadenza and just in my opinion it is not very well written as some high notes are so high as to be impossible to play with a good tone.
I second at least working on some of the first movement of Paganini 1. IMHO no need to work on the Sauret cadenza (which is orders of magnitude harder than anything in Tchaik and in very different ways), and probably not even the whole first movement, just getting the first few pages to lesson shape if not performance shape made Tchaik mvmt 1 much more approachable for me. (I suspect it was the increased finger independance and strength I developed from doing all those thirds that made the difference in general, even though no such thing occurs in Tchaik directly.)
Speaking of Sauret; this is a performance of the cadenza by George Neikrug, cello who died last march on his 100th birthday. I studied the cadenza (on violin) with him. I performed the first movement of Paganini 1 with it with no cuts on a pops concert at the Monadnock Music Festival many years ago. I think I got through it.
The Galamian school of pedagogy seemed to insist on a gauntlet of virtuoso concerti before Tchaikovsky and Sibelius (Vieuxtemps 4, Conus, Wieniawski 2, Scottish Fantasy, Saint-Saens 3, maybe Prokofiev 2 and Dvorak could be in that list), before tackling Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Brahms. William, how are your Ysaye's, solo Bach, etude regimen...and most importantly, what does your private teacher think?
I think there are multple levels of "have played" a work that ought to be considered when one considers progress. I'd divide them as:
James, I find Brahms somewhat, but noticeably, more difficult than Tchaikovsky. It also has more endurance challenges, and is decidedly unviolinistic.
Repertoire for testing purposes should be stuff you are super-comfortable with and that you know you can play essentially identical every time so that any observed differences can be credited to the equipment. It doesn't need to be hard.
In my previous post I neglected to include the link to George Neikrug performing the Sauret cadenza of Pagnini 1 on the cello.
That's a nice taxonomy, Lydia. As an amateur (who almost never performs solo) I rarely get anything hard enough to be interesting further than you call the Fluent level (not enough practice hours in my day), but am satisfied for my own purposes when I get something I really like close to Fluent eventually. (The hardest etudes, things like Ernst and Paganini caprices, I'm usually lucky if I can get to between Stumbling and Inconsistent, and I rarely try to push them a lot further. I prefer to put that level of effort into more violinistic things.)
Another way of looking at the question from Malcolm's point of view is, how many concertos are there left to be mastered after the Tchaikovsky has been been put to bed? Not many, I bet! Anyone able to provide a list?
As an aside to James's comment 5 posts back, I'd suggest that all you need to do when going into a store to try out violins with a view to a purchase is not much more than to play scales over the full range of the instrument on all the strings to test its tone and response. Similarly for exhibitions. For a start, it is a quick way to weed out the also-rans before spending real time concentrating on the good stuff.
Prokofiev 1 and 2 are arguably easier than Tchaikovsky. Glazunov is mostly easier than Tchaikovsky except for a few very difficult spots. Shostakovich 1 is probably in the same tier of difficulty, but is tough for different technical reasons.
I don't think I'd use the opening of Bruch G Minor as my main way to try out fiddles, it's too easy on the fiddle. Any instrument sounds good on that arpegio! James Ehnes includes on his Homage violin comparison CD about 15 versions of the riff he uses to test instruments, and its a few lines of one of hte later movments of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, that has a lot of flats and few open strings in-key. While it isn't that fun to play, I can see why it is a good torture test for the resonance of an instrument. Something that sounds good in that key, with that many high shifts, can handle any rep.
The Bruch is a *terrific* opening test of an instrument, which is the reason that almost everyone uses it. Immediately, that open G string gives you a very good idea of how easy or difficult it is to sculpt the sound to shape that opening note. That initial arpeggio gives you opportunities to hear both the resonance of the opening strings as well as notes that don't have that resonance, and more opportunities to experience the way to sculpt the sound.
Indeed, the Bruch Concerto is the perfect opening test for an instrument. The fact that it is so "easy" is precisly why it is a good one for testing. You don't have to study the piece in order to use it. The first cadenza is plenty to test the range of the violin. If the violin sounds struggles from the first open G then you know immediately that the violin probably isn't the one for you (that or it's out of adjustment). Another thing that arpeggio does is let you know how the violin handles across all four strings. You get to explore the "basic" registers of the violin. Basic as in if the violin doesn't sound good in the lower positions then it's pretty much useless because that's where we spend the most time playing.
The Scottish Fantasy bit on Ehnes' Homage is from the third movement of the work, four bars after letter [A], about a minute and a half in, for the curious. Over the course of minute of his excerpt, he covers all four strings of the instrument, and it's mostly in the middle positions. It's got a nice range of colors and is useful in the context of a recording for making it something that it's pleasant for the average listener to hear unaccompanied, does a nice job of highlighting the basic tonal differences between the instruments. But I w wouldn't consider it ideal for testing, though it's an interesting thing to play if you know and like the passage and want to hear what the instrument sounds like without open-string resonance.
Hhm, I don't know if I've ever played an instrument that sounds bad on the Bruch G minor opening, as fun as it is. (Maybe my standards are lower.) I've never really liked the Bruch passafe Ehnes uses that much as a player, but I figured he was doing something clever with all the flats to test the real resonance.
francis could you tell us a little bit about yourself? your bio on the site is empty. just curious as you seem to be a pretty advanced player!
Might be kind of cool to hear various people playing violin-testing passages on their own instruments, in some semi-consistent way (for instance, all YouTube video shot on iPhones). It'd be an interesting "what can you hear?" sort of exercise.
I adore that enhes recording as particularly the viola sections as it shows three main schools of Italian making. The brescian in the da salo. The cremonese (and the finest viola in history) in the guarneri and the radically different gudagnini.
Re: violin testing...
I agree with Andrew, though I'll note very few players (and not James T, whose testing is under discussion here) really play in circumstances where they need to project to the back of the hall. (And it's not easy to get to test violins in a hall, either, especially in areas where there aren't many halls; in the DC area where I live, large halls or even decent-size high school auditoriums seem shockingly rare).
Someone asked about my bio. I'd like to call myself an advanced amateur, but "enthusiastic amateur" might be more accurate. :-) I've played for 38 years, but haven't performed a solo in public for the last 25 or so. I like to play crazy hard stuff at home entirely to unwind from a non-musical career and clear my head. I think of it like people who run marathons mostly for the challenge (not to place). I'm in the second violin section of an audition-based community orchestra, which is my only recent performance.
thanks francis, if would be helpful if you could put a version of that info in your profile here. in the recording I think the second instrument sounds slightly better but keep in mind, it has been said often, usually any violin sounds like its player ;-) and, I think your dog wanted to go for a walk! :-)
Francis, I prefer the second violin. I'm curious what the instruments are.
Nice, thanks for sharing! Recording the violin is heck, entirely separately from instrument testing. Even knowing what one of your instruments is I'm a bit ashamed to say I can't tell with confidence which one is which. Both sound good, though the second has somewhat more bloom and I suspect is the better instrument. I also suspect it would be obvious in person, but in recording, the difference isn't super obvious to me. (I've noticed that with comparison albums of Cremonas, too - I have many, and the differences in tone usually strike me as fairly subtle sheen differences.)
"BTW Wieniawski 1 (seeing Ray Chen play it in 2 days) is actually a lot more fun than to listen to than 2 (although Ray says on Twitter it is a really nasty one to play through). It's a shame that no one ever seems to play or record it."
lydia, thanksfor posting, 2nd one is the vuillaume? for me pretty clear, but still not super obvious.
I have a nice recording of Michael Rabin performing Wienaweki 1. I pulled it off imslp and tried it out, HA! Death on the first phrase. What a piece. Opening a piece on doublestop tenths...too mean for me.
Yup. the 2nd one is the Vuillaume. The difference is nowhere near as large as I might have thought, given that under the ear the instruments are
Back to the original topic of the post, does anyone ever perform the Auer edits/cuts to Tchaikovsky? My teacher in particular thinks the cuts in the 3rd movement are good to take because those scales can get silly and repetitive. I really like some of the edits in the 1st movement, but on the other hand, it means I"m going to have to learn how to play those thirds and tenths. Bleh.
Yes, the Auer version is pretty common. It's not unusual for there to be a bit of mix and match. I learned the first movement the Auer way for the most part (the Bronstein way, to be more precise), and the third movement as written (the way my current teacher plays it). I studied the three movements with three different teachers, separated by over a decade between each movement.
Am I the only one who thinks it’s brazen for a fiddler to think he can improve upon Tchaikovsky’s concerto?
Tchaikovsky occasionally seems like a composer in need of a good editor. (the Romeo and Juliet overture is another good example of that.)
I wish that programs would specify what cuts or edition of the Tchaikovsky was being played.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.