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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 maximum control. The extremely long slur in mm. 4-6, where the two C's are joined together is, I believe, not a mistake. The third beat of m. 6 should be re-articulated on the same bow, and if you start the entire slur down-bow, you will end up with the correct bowing on m. 8.

The portato stroke in m. 9 comes off as surprisingly fast after the languid introduction. To mentally prepare, I found it very helpful to subdivide the first two beats preceding the scale.

After the double-bar at m. 13, use a sort of double-stop portato to play the harmonies accompanying the top note F; same thing at mm. 15 and 22. This technique always reminds me of stepping on pillows when done right: you should ease in gently to the string, and it should feel - and sound - soft and pliable.

If you've read my other posts, you know by now that I rarely ever change bowings from the manuscript, believing that the composer was specific in this regard for pedagogical reasons. However, I did find it necessary to split up the slur at m. 21, so that the last beat is played down-bow. This way the following measure remains intact, and the up-bow works ergonomically to create a crescendo into the cadence. I also broke up slurs in mm. 14 and 24, where again, the bowing was too awkward in its original form.


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