Skip to main content

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 Double-stops
Bariolage

The trill obviously takes center-stage in this caprice. An important part of developing your trill technique in this work is being able to use the fourth finger. There are just three places where this happen: measures 6, 31, and 49. Needless to say, trilling on the fourth finger on the viola is not the easiest feat- especially if you weren't made to do it regularly in the past. That was one of the biggest challenges for me, but I'm glad I didn't give into the strong desire to change the fingering. 

An alternation of bariolage and slurred double-stops happens at mm. 20-24; 35-38; and once more at 66-67. I found the most challenging section to be the last: m. 67 in particular was very tricky with the fingering (using 2, 3, and 4 spaced in whole steps, while alternating between 2 and 4: intonation nightmare!). In addition bariolage is more difficult when you are holding the lower string and alternating on the upper string. In contrast, holding the upper string and oscillating on the lower string, as in m. 20, is much more ergonomic for the bow. My suggestion is to practice these sections on open strings, without the fingers. If you have never done this technique before, the hard part is getting the bow coordinated to obtain rhythmic precision.







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. 41

I couldn't think of a better way to end an epic book of caprices. Caprice number 41 is a grand bookend for a grand project. I used to think number 17 was my favorite, but this piece took the cake once I discovered it. It is joyful and stately. And the sonority it draws out of the instrument makes the solo viola sound like a chamber group.  Perhaps it's the crescendo of energy and sound output. This can heard and also clearly seen in the music, at about  measure 26 , going on to the end of the piece. Double-stops and bariolage, and sometimes both at once, make the viola into a mini-organ. This was my favorite section to play because I felt awash in sound.  This piece mostly tries to be a fugue, but also reaches for something greater. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the fourth movement of Hindemith's Op.11, No.5 sonata (another favorite of mine). The Hindemith obviously came later, and is much longer and more fantastical. But both pieces give you the feeling that you have bee

Caprice no. 32

Number 32 is a siciliana, yet another treasure in this wonderful book of caprices! As with the  polacca , this is the only  siciliana  I've ever encountered for solo viola. And, I love how Campagnoli wove these nationalistic pieces, a vogue idea in his day, into the book. It's a joy to play this caprice. There is something so calming about the sicillian rhythm, like rocking on a boat at sea. And the harmonies are gentle and soothing. But my favorite part was the minor section, starting at measure 17. There are no ground-breaking chord progressions here, just timeless favorites that make you want to cry.