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. 23

No. 23, Andante sostenuto, is a melancholy work that draws its character from the beautiful sonorities of the viola. This is a great piece to explore your rich sound in many different forms. Because it repeats so many times, there are small opportunities to improvise with ornaments, change dynamics, or play certain notes on different strings. All of these variables can help you to change the character as you wish.



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.