Learning Vieuxtemps 5
I’m currently learning the Vieuxtemps Concerto no 5 in A minor. One of the main problems I’m having is figuring out what tempo to shoot for as my performance tempo as I’m learning the first movement. I’ve listened to a few recordings and no one plays it at a relatively steady tempo. Of course music should always be flowing but when one part of the concerto is at one tempo say the sostenuto and then a page later the soloist takes off 40 or 50 clicks faster, it’s hard to gauge what tempo to go for. All I have to go off of is the beginning tempo marking of allegro non troppo, but this tempo makes the sostenuto passage on the first page feel very rushed, especially when you get to the part with the 32nd notes.
I’m also not entirely sure if I’m learning this concerto in the best way, so practice tips for this concerto would be helpful. Especially for some of the unnecessarily hard passage work.
This is a pretty hard concerto. I’m confident in my ability to learn it, but it’s different from other concertos I’ve learned in the sense that it’s not consistently played by today’s soloists so it’s new to me both technically and aurally.
You will likely read a snide comment about the work and its composer soon, and how it's not the Brahms or some sort of "concerto level" comment. That said, it is beautiful, and as worthy of public performance as it was during its first years when Vieuxtemps himself performed it. He was such a fine student! Almost "made it" to the more difficult works...
It's a beautiful work indeed. I fully intend to learn it in its entirety. I think I'm starting to understand that as you said "the tempo is not set in stone." I've always thought that there needs to be one set tempo, but if you do that then the music often becomes boring and stiff because it has no flow/movement to it. Perhaps my restraint of letting the music flow how it should is what has been keeping me from achieving what I want musically in the things that I play.
I know a young woman who is a fine violinist and she auditioned for college with Vieuxtemps, but I'm not sure whether it was 4 or 5. I think the great thing about a piece that's kind of a roller-coaster as far as tempo goes is that you
“I’ve always thought there needs to be one set tempo”
No I am not self-taught I had a teacher, but I just graduated with my Bachelors in violin performance at UNT this past spring. I’m starting my Master’s at SMU this fall studying with Alexander Sitkovetsky.
I never really had a problem learning things this way until just recently because it always worked. But now that I'm getting more advanced from a musical standpoint I'm finding that I can't learn things the way I used to because it doesn't do anything for the music.
I don't have any professional insight as to why Vieuxtemps isn't performed professionally, but certainly the length has a lot to do with it (big money donors need to get their money's worth, after all), along with, IMO, a relatively non-innovative 3rd movement and quite an anemic orchestral score.
Buri - is there anything Grumiaux doesn't play elegantly with that added dash of country club savoir faire??? Gosh, he's fabulous. And Kogan's sizzling electricity (especially in that 4th finger).