Dilemma with concert piece

Edited: October 22, 2017, 9:49 AM · Hello everyone,

I was asked to play at a concert which is taking place in a month. My violin teacher requested me to play a movement from Vivaldis a minor concerto.

The thing is, that I've already played this piece and I don't really enjoy playing it.
The fact that a violin friend of mine (who will also play there) is going to play a movement from Griegs 3rd violin sonata and a Mozart violin sonata isn't making it any better.

I'm currently working on the Bach violin double concerto and asked my teacher if I could play it instead but the problem is that it would be really hard to find another violinist for the second violin in such a short time.

Do you have any recommendations that I could play instead? It shouldn't be too long and it should be at my level of playing.

Perhaps this information is helping you:

I'm 18 years old and started playing two years ago.
Some of the pieces I've played are:

-Vivaldis a minor concerto
-a few student concertos by Rieding (op. 21 in a minor, op 35 in b minor etc.)

This is a list of some pieces I've played in orchestra (both 2nd violin);

Youth Symphony Orchestra:
Saint Säens - Baccanale
Sibelius - 2nd symphony 4th movement
Prokofiev - Dance of the knights

Chamber Orchestra:
Mozart - Haffner Symphony
Schubert - Symphony no.6

I can play from 1st up to 5th position (although 5th is still a bit tricky for me) and I would say that my vibrato is also pretty "good".
My violin teacher once mentioned that I'm good with dynamics and that I have a good tone.

I would love to read your thoughts about pieces I could play! It shouldn't be too demanding ;)...Thanks a lot

Replies (13)

Edited: October 11, 2017, 8:24 AM · Your teacher is giving you rock-solid advice. If you have a choice, always perform something that you can play very well. Is your Vivaldi feeling a little stale? Make a recording of yourself and then bring it up a notch -- intonation, articulation, musicality: Violin artistry!

The Bach Double takes quite a bit of work with the other violinist and the accompanist to get right. It's not something that two students are going to slap together in a couple of half-hour rehearsals, trust me on that.

So your friend is more advanced. So there are folks your age who can play better. Well you better get used to that. Classical music would have no future if the Vivaldi A Minor was the best that we could expect from an 18-year-old. You need to learn to celebrate your own progress and to enjoy the violin on your own terms.

Finally -- a hint: If your accompanist is struggling with the parts for Vivaldi A Minor or Bach Double from the Suzuki books, suggest that they get the reduction from "Frustrated Accompanist." Much easier to play means they stay with you much better and they don't cover you if you're playing soft.

Edited: October 11, 2017, 8:46 AM · The Vivaldi a minor after two years of study is good progress!

I agree with Paul; your teacher is right. You should never try to perform something new with a month or less preparation, particularly at your stage of study. The only exception to this might be a piece that is significantly easier than your current level of study, which doesn't seem to be what you're going for here. The Bach Double is not a good idea for exactly the reason Paul gave.

Your choices on this program are to play a movement of Vivaldi that you know well and have re-polished over the next month, some other piece that you have recently learned well, or not to play. What your friend or anyone else plays is irrelevant. This isn't a competition.

BTW the "Frustrated Accompanist" series is absolutely wonderful.

Edited: October 11, 2017, 9:06 AM · OP,

I wholeheartedly agree with your teacher. Two other posters also gave you a sage advice. By the way, if you think Vivaldi A minor is stale, look for several professional recordings on YouTube. I used to listen to I Musici's performances.

If you by any chance think that Vivaldi A minor is only for kids half of your age, think again. It is a charming piece on its own and written to be accessible to young violinists by design. After all, Vivaldi was the school principal for an orphanage so he organized a youth orchestra and taught teen age girls how to play his music.

October 11, 2017, 9:21 AM · Does your friend know the 2nd violin part to the Bach Double? If so, ask them to play with you.

If you've got a concert in a month, it's too late to learn something new. Go with what you know.

Edited: October 11, 2017, 10:45 AM · I think the Vivaldi A minor concerto is a wonderful piece of music. But then I love all of Vivaldi.

If you were my student and I thought this was the piece you should play I would recommend you:

1. look at a different edition than the Suzuki (at least the old one I used to teach from) and see if that works even better for you - I know I always taught it from a different edition than the one in the Suzuki book because of its counter-intuitive bowings.

2. Listen to as many performances as you can - start with YouTube to see if there are some touches you can add to your performance.

3. Record your practice to see how you like the way you sound.

October 11, 2017, 11:13 AM · You hit nive repotoire for the time playing. Also the orchestra stuff.
I agree with the others, I have signifcant more experience but I would not like to play a concerto in a month of something I have not played. This can also trigger a lot of nervous stuff. Not even a piece significant below my posibilities, not speaking of something on the edge of them.
The Bach double is a nice thing to play on many different levels, I hope you find somebody to play along.
October 11, 2017, 7:18 PM · As a kid, when I was progressing through the Suzuki books, playing pieces like the Vivaldi A minor, I was obsessed with how far along I was. I always wanted to be "ahead" of so-and-so in my cohort. This, of course, is utter nonsense. It's better to play a simple piece artistically than to play a more advanced piece robotically. So, my advice would be to listen to a variety of recordings of the Vivaldi (including Baroque ensembles, for instance), and find one or two that resonate with you. (YouTube and Spotify are great resources). Aspire to play not just the notes, but the dynamics, tempo, and articulations, like the pros. This can make the Vivaldi a very interesting piece, and what you learn will help you as you move on to more challenging repertoire.
Edited: October 14, 2017, 12:11 PM · Thank you all for your kind advices!

I've decided to stick with Vivaldi and I'll probably play the 3rd movement (still need to decide on that with my violin teacher).

@Paul and Mary: I actually don't play the Suzuki version; I have the Bärenreiter edition. And luckily I don' need to worry about my accompanist.

Though I'm still concerned about being the only one playing a rather "easy" piece.
My music theory teacher (who, by the way is going to be my accompanist, is also a piano teacher AND the conductor of my chamber orchestra) always picks the students to play for this concert and all of them are really talented or have been playing for a really long time (most of them having won several music competitions!).
So I don't really understand why he would have picked me. Overall it's just a thing I need to work on; to not compare myself with others who have played much longer than myself.

October 14, 2017, 1:52 PM · One thing you may need to learn to get used to, as a musician and in life, is playing music you don't necessarily care for. At times you will be asked to play stuff that is too slow, too fast, too easy, too hard, etc. Also you will have to play with people not as skilled, more skilled, hard to please, etc. It's just how it is. You see leading performers playing pieces that are many times considered as easy student music yet they do it and are happy to have a gig. I have seen renditions of Twinkle that will bring a tear to your eye.
October 14, 2017, 1:57 PM · "So I don't really understand why he would have picked me."

Why don't you ask him. I think I already know what he's going to say.

October 14, 2017, 2:58 PM · Valeria,

Choose the movement between the two that you already know and play very well. I don't know your teacher, but I am pretty sure he thought your playing is worthy of inclusion in the program. Given that most young kids just butcher Vivaldi A minor, perhaps he expects you could bring in a fresh air to the piece with far more mature, authentic sound.

As an ex-Suzuki dad, I have attended numerous student recitals over the course of more than ten years. However, I recall only a handful of these performances. One of them is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star played by a young kid. She was not the youngest who played the piece, but her play was the best performance that I have ever heard in person.

Only focus on the music you play and think about how you can give 120% and deliver 100% of your best at the concert. Then you may be able to make that kind of lasting impression on the audience. Good luck.

October 14, 2017, 3:05 PM · I heard a recital by Pinchas Zuckerman on the radio, in which he performed Elgar's Six Easy Pieces.
October 14, 2017, 7:44 PM · Very commonly a big star violinist or pianist will perform something well below their technical "level" as an encore too. Like Horowitz playing Schumann's "Traumerei" at the most important and highly publicized recital of his entire life.

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