Skip to main content

Caprice no. 34


Here is another caprice with mini-movements: Number 34 is a standard Baroque form, switching between Andantino and Presto twice. While officially, Campagnoli lived and composed during the Classical era (he was five years older than Mozart, and outlived him by 36 years), it seems that he favored some aspects of the older Baroque style. A short piece, comprised of four brief "movements"alternating between slow and fast, was typical of that era. During the classical era, movements became much longer and more developed, ending on on full cadences - unlike their Baroque counterparts. They resembled pieces unto themselves, even though they were part of a sonata or symphony. 

I really enjoyed playing the Presto sections of this caprice. They have a feeling of one beat to the measure, and roll along. The bariolage is particularly fun (mm.55-61), partly because of the backwards bowing. It feels extremely awkward until your bow arm learns how to embrace it. There are also patterns everywhere, which are fun because you can tune out intellectually (at least a bit) and let your muscle memory kick in. Ride the waves!

The Andantinos are nearly identical, and they both evoke the classic hunting music, with heavy use of thirds and fifths. (Listen to The Autumn Hunt from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and you'll hear what I mean.) 

Now that I've played all of the caprices and am looking at them with fresh eyes for these blog posts, I have come to a realization. It seems that Campagnoli wanted to give violists a truly comprehensive book of caprices, a greatest hits, if you will. There is a polonaise, a siciliana, several fugues, several theme and variations, a tarantella of sorts, and more, plus all of the flashy technique usually reserved only for violin music. The diversity and amount of material that Campagnoli has written for the viola, in this book alone, is astonishing!




Popular posts from this blog

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.



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.