Skip to main content

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".) You need to find a tempo that still accommodates the original slurs marked in the music: particularly mm. 10 and 12. A tempo that is too slow will insure that you will have to break up the 16th-note slurs. I also find it interesting that Campagnoli includes more dynamic indications and shaping than possibly anywhere else in the book. Perhaps this is because of the lack of melody, but I also think he is directing the use of pressure and speed in the bow, especially in the first six measures.

The Allegro (mm. 29-47) is essentially a study in perpetual motion, and if you have read my previous posts, you know this is not my forte. I found it helpful to remember to relax into the slurs from m. 34. The absence of dynamic shaping in this section is more typical of what you will find in this book. Use your musical intuition and knowledge of harmony to come up with a convincing roadmap,


Popular posts from this blog

Caprice no. 38

We're almost at the end of this book, and in Caprice number 38, Campagnoli takes his hat off to Rodolphe Kreutzer and his 42 Etudes for Violin (1796), by quoting Etude #2. And guess where it happens: at measures 41-42. Is this a coincidence of numbers? Knowing how deliberate Camapagnoli was, I think probably not. We don't know about the two composers' relationship, but it is very likely that they knew each other, and obvious that there was admiration. This all but confirms my theory that Campagnoli held the great Kreutzer in such regard that he wrote 41 caprices, one less than his contemporary. Many of Campagnoli's caprices have a strong focus on bowing. However, Caprice 37 is all about the left hand. And wow - did my left hand feel like it was going to fall off after recording this piece. (even though I was in great shape!) Having said that, it was very important to let my bow arm drive the momentum as much as possible. Almost all of our expression comes from the bow,

Caprice no. 16

Caprice no. 16 was a bear for my left hand, which I contorted in ways I previously thought impossible. I disliked it for a long time because frankly, I couldn't make it sound good. The very first chord in particular, with the extended fourth finger, is just barely playable for me on a 16.5-inch viola. However, after clearing the hurdles, I've decided it's one of my favorite caprices.  The key of E Major sounds mellow, rich, and joyful. especially on the return of the "A" section after the C-sharp minor section (mm.17-end) . Campagnoli certainly does interesting things with the bariolage  stroke, especially in mm. 9-16 where he staggers the slurs. This makes it extra tricky for the left hand, as if any more challenges were needed in a piece like this! I found it most helpful to emphasize the bottom note of each chord, to keep the line going and also to keep my bow and left hand on the from getting distracted by other technical complications.

Caprice no. 20

Well, hello, Positions 1-7.... Caprice no. 20 is by far the MOST ANNOYING caprice I have encountered in the book so far. But, it's also the one that most improved my raw technique! In fact, I have never been made to hang out in seventh position unless I'm playing on the A string for some stratosphere work. So, it was a new experience having to traverse ALL the strings in these high positions. It was uncomfortable, and very tricky to eliminate extraneous noise, such as a plucked string when crossing over to the next one. Plus, getting a stellar sound way up there is a constant challenge! I had to pay extra attention to my bow: in order to make a good sound it had to be in exactly the right place with the perfect amount of tension and speed.