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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 the tied note. If the note were meant to be re-articulated, it would not have been tied. (I bring this up simply because the general practice now is to do the opposite.)

There are some fingerings in the part that lead me to believe that Campagnoli either had large hands, or a small viola (or quite possibly both). At m. 38, he marks the double-stop F#-E with a 2 and 4! This is possible on the violin, but certainly not on my 16.5-inch viola. For a composer that leaves most fingering up to the performer (or more likely, assumes that most fingering will be played in first position), I thought it was an odd place to add an opinion- but also leaves an insightful piece of evidence.

Measures 75-89 proved the most challenging for me. The first half of this section was difficult for managing very quick trills, double-stop patterns, and the change to a staccato articulation. The second half (from m. 83) is a beast for the fourth finger. I'm going to give myself the benefit of the doubt and assume that on the composer's small viola, it was much easier to play.

Given the oddities of the first four caprices, this one is relatively tame, staying in the key of G major and finishing on a tonic chord. If you missed Caprices 1-4 be sure to check them out in my earlier posts: some are quite wild!

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