Difficulty of Sarasate Carmen Fantasy

March 14, 2020, 6:11 AM · Hello all,

I was wondering at what point in the typical concerto progression do students normally learn the Sarasate Carmen Fantasy? Is it typically learnt only when students are on the big Romantic concertos like Brahms and Sibelius?

Also, in terms technical difficulty, how does it stand in comparison to other showpieces like Ravel's Tzigane, Wieniawski's Variations on an Original Theme etc?

Thanks in advance! :)

Replies (16)

March 14, 2020, 10:38 AM · Sarasate Carmen Fantasy is not part of any student progression. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't already able to learn something like Sibelius well and play it at a high level.

For those who don't think the Sarasate version is hard enough, there's always Waxman.

March 14, 2020, 10:49 AM · Thanks so much for the input! Does this mean that the Sarasate is much harder than Saint-Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso then?
Edited: March 14, 2020, 11:02 AM · Yes, it is harder. How "much" harder depends on the violinist's strengths and weaknesses. Past discussions here have left me with the impression that some people underestimate how hard Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso is by a fair margin.
March 14, 2020, 12:27 PM · In my experience, I&RC tends to be taught at roughly Bruch and similar first-tier Romantic concerto level (for instance, taught after the Lalo).

Also in my personal experience, I found I&RC to be much harder than those concertos, though not as hard as the concertos at the Tchaikovsky level. Note that the difficulty declines precipitously the more under-tempo it is performed at, which may account for some underestimates of difficulty.

I would put the Sarasate Carmen Fantasy in the same tier category as Paganini 1. Depending on your strengths and weaknesses as a student, Paganini 1 is often taught before the top tier Romantic concertos, but it's very difficult.

March 14, 2020, 1:32 PM · Gee, I thought the Introduction and Largo Doloroso was easy ...
March 14, 2020, 3:13 PM · Much of Carmen Fantasy is not terribly hard if you are already at the "big" concerto level, though the last movement is harder. In my son's program, they tend to play it after playing a bunch of the standard rep concertos (Bruch, Mendelssohn, Saint Saens, Lalo, Vieuxtemps, etc.) but before playing Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, etc. I would say that it is definitely harder than Intro and Rondo Capriccioso, but maybe a little easier than Tzigane, though they aren't entirely comparable, as they require very different techniques.
March 14, 2020, 8:57 PM · Thanks for the advice everyone!
March 14, 2020, 8:59 PM · Correct me if I'm wrong, but after looking at the scores of both pieces, I have this feeling that the Sarasate lies better under the hand than the Saint- Saens
Edited: March 14, 2020, 9:19 PM · hahahahahahahaha


Have you looked at the last movement?

March 14, 2020, 9:25 PM · Yes I have, but I was thinking of the earlier parts of the piece where some parts possibly are not as difficult as they sound
March 14, 2020, 9:56 PM · You can find not-so-difficult parts in most difficult pieces. That doesn't mean the piece itself is less difficult. Most music is "lumpy" with regard to technical challenges.
March 14, 2020, 10:07 PM · Although Carmen starts virtuosic and doesn't really get any less so. It just starts virtuosic in single notes and ends virtuosic in thirds.
March 15, 2020, 2:50 AM · @Mary hmm that's a good point
March 15, 2020, 2:52 AM · @Lydia you mentioned first-tier romantic concertos -- does that include Wieniawski 2 and Dvorak?
March 15, 2020, 8:39 AM · Wieniawski 2 is first-tier (along with Bruch 1, etc.) Dvorak is definitely second tier; it is significantly harder than Wieniawski 2 et.al.
March 15, 2020, 9:23 AM · Ah I see, thanks

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