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Caprice no. 11




Caprice no. 11 is an unabashed celebration of the arpeggio. It doesn't invite the kind of subtle music-making that many of the others do, however, it is not purely a technical exercise either.

One thing I admire in this piece is the harmonic rhythm and flow, created out of large building blocks (one chord per measure). Rhythm is another way to control the musical flow. At the beginning, each measure has a period at the end: a full quarter note. At measures 10-16, the last beat of the measure follows with continuous eighth-notes, which creates the musical equivalent of a run-on sentence.

Although this piece is simple enough, measures 17-18 and 23 pose a real challenge because of the precarious shifts. In each, I found that besides the obvious challenge of hitting the right note, I also tended to try to leave it early - even if I nailed it. As I work through these caprices, I find that even in the simpler ones, Campagnoli usually manages to throw in some monkey wrench just for the extra challenge!

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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.

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Caprice no. 5

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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.

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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…