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Showing posts from 2015

Caprice no. 1

Finally, here we are at the beginning! Until taking the plunge with this project, I had always avoided Caprice no. 1. It didn't make sense to me until I had studied period baroque music for a few years, and now it clicks. Beginning a piece with a slow, contemplative movement (as opposed to an upbeat one) is very Baroque in style, and by the classical era it was going by the wayside. This seems to be Campagnoli's throwback piece, a nod to earlier times. I also think it's a great way to begin a hefty book of caprices, as it hints at the diversity that can be found within every number.

The caprice consists of two mini movements. First, a Largo: a slow, harmonically driven section that cultivates bow control, followed by the Allegro, its flashy counterpart.

The Largo (mm. 1-28) again, is all about bow control. I have heard people play this REALLY slowly, but I don't think that's the point. (Remember, the literal translation of largo is "long" or "broad&…

Caprice no. 22

I recorded Caprice no. 22  along with nos. 17 and 33, and even though it's not my favorite, this piece (and my former student) provided the inspiration for The Campagnoli Project. I had assigned it to a student who came back to me the following week, frustrated that she couldn't find a recording for reference online. After doing some research and finding the same results, I realized that many of the caprices were not recorded. Nearly two years later, this project was born. So this recording and post are dedicated to my former student Sara: thank you for your inspiration! I hope you and many other violists find this helpful.

No. 22 is more like a standard etude, with a less developed form and narrow technical focuses. It seems to follow in line with the concept of Kreutzer's Etudes (42 Etudes for solo violin), which is believed to be the model after which Campagnoli wrote his 41 Caprices for Viola.

The overriding technical focuses for Caprice No. 22 are:

The trill
Slurred D…

Caprice No. 33

Caprice no. 33 is another favorite of mine. I chose to practice this in tandem with no. 17 for my first recording set. These pieces both inspired me with their longer, more developed forms.

I also love a good fugue, especially a minor fugue. As a violist, unless you regularly borrow from the violin repertoire, you probably haven't gotten many opportunities to play a solo fugue. A fugue written specifically for the viola is a treat indeed!


There are two main technical focuses for this caprice:

-Double, triple, and quadruple-stops
-Carrying a melodic line (fugue subject) through accompaniment


General Notes I play this at a quick pace, as Campagnoli indicates cut time in the score. Feeling in two helps with phrasing and direction, otherwise the melody can get stuck - particularly with the heavy chords distributed throughout the work.

Throughout the piece I have marked double up-bows in cases where the bowing wants correction, not slurs. I assume that Campagnoli didn't want slurs un…

Caprice No. 17

I fell in love with Caprice No. 17 when my teacher assigned it to me in middle school. My fascination with the work became one of the reasons I pursued this project: I wanted an outlet to perform it. Because the piece is my favorite, I’ve decided to post it first.
No. 17 is more than just a caprice, it is a delightful Theme and Variations with tons of action packed into four short minutes. Each variation is a micro-caprice with its own technical landscape to explore. While it is appealing musically, the work is also incredibly fun to play. Most of my practice time on this caprice and other early posts was spent holed up in the bathroom during my daughter's nap time, playing with a practice mute on and the door closed. I was working on this one in the middle of the summer and there were hot days when I craved the AC which was on in the rest of the apartment!
Note: Throughout the entire piece, I attempt to keep the same tempo, adjusting slightly for
character. This allows for last t…

Introduction

Background
Two years ago, I assigned one of Bartolomeo Campagnoli's 41 Caprices for Viola, Op. 22 to a student of mine. At our lesson the following week, she told me she had searched for a recording online but couldn't find one. Listening to assigned pieces is a regular exercise for her (as for many of my students), and the fact that she couldn't find a recording hindered her progress that week. I went home that evening and began searching online for recordings of the caprices, and found they were sadly lacking. Campagnoli's Caprices for Viola are as difficult and musical as Paganini's 24 Caprices for Violin, yet as scarce as Paganini's are popular in representation. That's when I realized someone needed to change that. In fact, I could change it. I thought up a far-fetched dream to record all forty-one caprices.
After practicing some of my favorite caprices and realizing their true difficulty, I got discouraged and put the thought away for a while. I resurre…