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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,


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Caprice no. 6

I have finally made my return to writing (but not playing), two months after baby number 2! If you are a parent and reading this, you understand...if not, let's just say life is organized chaos at this point (especially since my oldest just turned two). Although this is a forced hiatus from playing - this was recorded back in March - I'm enjoying the time off. I hope to come back to the viola with a new perspective and fresh ears in August!

Anyway, let's jump back in with the contemplative Caprice no. 6. This was so relaxing to play, both in practice and performance. I felt that I had time to breathe, and think about phrasing and shapes. Caprice number 6 is all about bow control, starting with the very first note. I found a reasonable tempo to be between 50-60 bpm.

Notice the hairpins marked in measures 1, 2, 5-6, and 8. These markings are rare for Campagnoli, but they emphasize that he was going after a specific type of bow use in this caprice: slow, steady, and with max…

Caprice no. 5

I recorded Caprices 5-8 over two weeks ago, at 7 months of pregnancy with my second child. Needless to say, I'm taking a break now, as my energy wanes and I anticipate learning how to navigate life with a toddler and newborn!

Caprice no. 5 has always intrigued me, but when giving it the cursory read-through I would realize that it was too difficult to read for fun. This one took the most time to learn out of the current set, and the biggest challenge was giving it the light, playful character that I believe it deserves. There are lots of bowing inconsistencies in the engraving, and I marked what I deemed appropriate, trying to stay true to the few decipherable patterns. However, there are many other possibilities depending on one's personal preferences.

Another choice that I've made is to not re-articulate the top note in the slurred triple-stops, occurring at mm.32-33 and 36-37. This follows historical performance practices, as well as a more literal interpretation of th…

Caprice no. 4

When preparing to record Caprices 1-4, this was the one that held me up and admittedly caused some anxiety for the recording session. The culprit was the jeté stroke, featured prominently at the beginning of the caprice. Having never played violin in my earlier days, I was excused from having to learn this stroke, and developed jeté phobia as a result.

So kudos to Campagnoli for believing that violists can do it too. It isn't the most practical, everyday manner in which we use the bow- but if you master it, you have really accomplished a hyper-control of your bow hand. At least that's how I felt once I got the technique down.

To practice the jeté stroke for this piece, I spent a lot of time on open strings practicing a semi-controlled bounce of the bow. The challenge is that the four times it happens, it is over an eight-note descending scale, each one a note lower then the last - meaning that your open string pattern will be slightly different each time. Of course the tensio…