Portnoff Concerto in A minor

Edited: July 23, 2020, 3:39 PM · Hello,


Sorry for littering this site with my garbage violin playing.

This is a recording of me playing the first half of Portnoff’s Concerto in A minor.
I would like some feedback from you since I do not have a private teacher right now.
How can I improve my dynamic control, tone, vibrato, and intonation?
Is my right and left hand positioning okay?
Fingering suggestions?
Are there any pieces or études you would suggest based on this recording?
Anything else?

Thank you!

Replies (7)

Edited: July 23, 2020, 10:33 AM · That’s some nice playing. You have a good ear for intonation. You seem to hyperextend your left wrist, and your right hand is stiff and stretched. I tried to send you a message but there doesn’t seem to be any way to do that.
Edited: July 23, 2020, 11:10 AM · Thanks for the childhood memory, I played this concerto too a number of decades ago :-)

This is not garbage playing this is good beginner playing. Keep up the good work! Your vibrato is developing nicely.

I am not a teacher just an amateur but some things I notice that you could work on:

* Sometimes there is noise coming from a wrong finger accidentally touching the string. Practice "cleanly": making sure that your fingers touch only the string they are placed on: the other strings should remain free. One way to practice this is by beginning to practice double-stopped thirds. For that you should also avoid pushing your wrist away from you (as Mary Ellen already noticed).

* Work on bowing close to the bridge. Learn about the five soundpoints. Your bow should make closer contact with the strings. Put simply you should press more, but of course that can only work if you also bow faster or bow closer to the bridge.

* Kreutzer no.2 would be a good exercise combining both of the above points. Work on playing this etude with a clear sound, no "noises", and solid detache bowing producing a loud sound, and work on achieving a brisk tempo. It has been said that you can work on Kreutzer no.2 your entire life :-)

July 23, 2020, 3:18 PM · This is perfectly decent early-intermediate playing.

Your left hand is a bit odd, mostly as the result of your wrist. Plus your wrist deflects when you shift; you want to shift as an integrated forearm-wrist-hand unit. I think your generally good intonation is the result of a good ear and careful effort, and when you're out of tune there's usually a physical root.

I suspect your left hand is somewhat tense -- it becomes apparent in the trills at the end. Whether it's always a bit tense (possibly overexerting pressure on the strings) or it just manifests itself in a trill, I can't tell from the video. The deflection of your wrists is probably a significant contributing factor, if so.

A tense right hand will affect your left hand, too; we all mirror across the sides of our body, unconsciously.

Schradieck op. 1 book 1, first exercise, played with a metronome starting at one note = 60 and eventually quarter = 60 (increasing notch by notch so that months from now, quarter = 172), may be useful to you. Keep your hand relaxed and still, with the wrist loose. Do not change the frame of your hand. Let the fingers drop and raise from the base joint, stopping the string with the minimum effort possible, and when you lift a finger, let it lift from the string with the sort of rapidity you'd use if you'd touched a hot surface (you should get a little "ping" of articulation when it's fast enough). Be sure that every time a note is played it is IDENTICAL, with zero pitch variance. This will help you cultivate more lightness and a stable left-hand frame.

Edited: July 23, 2020, 3:36 PM · Nothing to add to the good advice given above, more capable than mine could ever be.
I've been in your shoes maybe two years ago. You don't have to be fishing for compliments, it's not bad at all what you're doing there, and without a teacher. And I really do love Leonid Portnoff, I'm so grateful to him and Oskar Rieding for having written the most amazing dedicated "student" concertos!
July 23, 2020, 3:43 PM · Your sound is nice, but it looks like your pinky is stiff and always extended, which is going to make any bow changes or string crossings at the frog difficult.

You might want to practice shifting the weight of your hand on long bows, so that the weight shifts towards the first finger when getting towards the tip (with your hand having the sense of turning a doorknob counter-clockwise) and then shifting the weight into a pinky that bends when getting towards the frog (turning the doorknob clockwise). You don't want all the weight into the pinky, but you want the pinky to be able to act like a spring.

July 24, 2020, 12:59 PM · Thank you for your comments and advice, everyone!

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Sejong Music Competition
Sejong Music Competition

Find an Online Music Camp
Find an Online Music Camp

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine