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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…

Caorice no. 3

Here is another caprice that ends on a half-cadence: its resolution can be found at the beginning of Caprice no. 4. I find it curious that Camapagnoli ends a string of the first caprices on half-cadence question marks. My hypothesis is that he composed the first few works as a set, and played them back to back.

In any case, Caprice no. 3 was a fun change from numbers 1, 2, and 4 (I recorded this set together in October 2015). It's more joyous and carefree, and is a pure exercise in finger/ bow dexterity and position work. As I was practicing, I noticed that my shifts had to be extra clean with no hint of sliding, such as the shift to third position in the middle of m. 4. This lead to a very mechanical approach: lots of slow practice to focus on finger placement, even rhythms, and ever-shifting bow patterns (note the passage from mm. 9-16).

Aside from that, the only other thing to note is the bowing reversal that happens in the middle of m. 25 and takes effect all the way to the e…

Caprice no. 2

Caprice no. 2 is a loose semblance of a Theme and Variations. While short, there is still a lot of material packed into a few minutes, and I find it's a great all-encompassing etude for warming up and hitting your double-stops, triplets and bariolage.

The Theme (m.m. 1-8) has a song-like quality, and it is helpful to practice without the double and triple-stops to get an idea of the flow for the melody. It is quickly followed by a bariolage section (m.m. 9-16) in the relative minor key of e , which I think does well in a more hushed, mysterious tone, building up to the forte in m. 15.

Measures 17-22 are a bit curious with the break from the traditional eight-bar phrase to a four-measure phrase repeated, followed by a three-measure phrase (also repeated). The end of this section marks the end of the theme/variations, as the character, form and key shift going into the triplet section.

It helps to think of thepiu moto (mm. 25-44) in groups of two measures, like it were written in 6/…