GRATTON, Hector

CHANSON ECOSSAISE

Instrumentation: Violin, piano

Duration: 2'30"

Publisher: Berandol Music

Level: Difficult

Musical Characteristics: This piece features a lyrical melodic line. The feeling throughout is somewhat wistful and romantic. It is in 6/8 time, and is marked Andante - molto cantando e legatissimo. The piece is through-composed, with 3 double bar lines dividing the piece into sections. The first section is 16 bars long. This is followed by a 12-bar section. The third section, marked "piu animato," is slightly quicker with more movement in the melody line. It is 8 bars long. "Tempo I" marks the beginning of the next section; it is 16 bars long. A 4-bar phrase, marked "Poch. piu lento," rounds out the piece. Phrasing is symmetrical, occurring in 4-, 8-, 12-, and 16-bar groupings. The piece is in the key of E-flat major, and uses traditional harmonies throughout. The melody covers a wide range (three octaves, from low B-flat on the G string to high B-flat on the E string). Leaps of an octave are common between phrases, and wide intervals often occur between sections (e.g., bars 36-7, bar 52). The tempo varies quite a bit throughout, contributing to the romantic feeling of the piece. Two rallentandos, one ritenuto, one accelerando, and several A tempos are marked. Fermatas are found in bars 26, 32, 44, 50, and on the final note. The piano accompaniment is moderately difficult. It is mainly chordal in nature, providing harmonic support for the violin part, although the piano does play occasional melodic fragments.

Technical Challenges: Bow control and distribution are important in expressing the legato melodic line. Smooth bowing and bow changes are vital. Slurs are frequent, with some long slurs in bars 14 and 37-8. Attention should be paid to saving the bow in these bars. The bow must also be saved on the final note of the piece (bars 54-5), and pressure and speed should gradually decrease until the sound dies away. The student must always be working for a rich, warm tone and a cantando melodic line. Vibrato must be well controlled. The main finger pattern in first position is 01 2 34, but finger patterns change with each shift. Good finger dexterity is required in bar 14, where there is an ascending run requiring rapid finger changes and shifts. The piece utilizes I to VII positions, with some tricky shifts. Bar 14 requires rapid shifting from first to fifth position. Bars 36-7 require a shift from first to seventh position. Accuracy is vital on the first note of bar 37, where it is important to land precisely and confidently on the high E-flat. Dynamics range from f to ppp, with crescendos and diminuendos occurring as well. The dynamics are generally on the quieter end of the dynamic spectrum, and they are liberally marked. Left and right hand co-ordination is moderately difficult. The slow tempo and moderately slow finger and bow changes offset any serious co-ordination problems. Frequent tempo alterations may present a challenge to ensemble co-ordination. Sensitivity to these changes is needed by both performers.

Pedagogical Value: This piece is excellent for developing expressive playing. It provides useful opportunities to develop control of bowing, vibrato, and shifting.

 

JAQUE, Rhené

PETIT AIR ROUMAIN

Instrumentation: Violin, piano

Duration: 2'

Publisher: Gordon V. Thompson

Level: Difficult

Musical Characteristics: The title Petit Air Roumain aptly describes the gypsy-like quality of the melody in this composition. The form is ABA'. The metre is mainly 2/4, with occasional changes to 3/4. The piece begins Allegro with a quarter = 120. The tempo varies several times. Bar 67 is marked poco rit., and bar 69 is marked meno mosso, with a Tempo I at bar 77. There is a fermata in bar 60, and a senza rit. in the last three bars. Note durations vary from dotted half notes to thirty-second notes. A consistent eighth note rhythmic pattern occurs in the pizzicato sections; elsewhere, there is no consistent recurring rhythmic pattern. The patterns are fairly complex. There are some challenging patterns. Accents are marked frequently, usually off main beats. Section A is 40 bars long. Section B begins at bar 41 and lasts for 36 bars. "Tempo I" indicates the beginning of section A' at bar 77. There are frequently changing accidentals, with no key signature. The piece begins and ends in G+, and there are modulations to d- and F+, among other keys. The melody is introduced at the beginning in the piano part, while the violin plays a pizzicato accompaniment. The melody consists of conjunct and disjunct motion, with few wide leaps. Generally, there is a rest providing time to prepare for a leap.

Technical Challenges: First to fifth positions are used in this composition. Most of the shifting is rapid, with no preparation time given. For example, bars 23 to 25 contain four changes of position, with no time available to set the frame of the hand. Fifth position occurs at bar 63. There is time to prepare for the shift from first to fifth position. The shift from fifth to third position which occurs in bar 66 is rapid, with no time to prepare. The speed of finger changes is rapid due to the quick tempo, and there are rapid fingered string crossings. Finger patterns alter frequently, with shifts and frequent accidentals contributing to the changes. Some awkward finger patterns occur (e.g., bars 21 to 22 use close first, second, and third fingers). Bars 28-29 are challenging due to awkward fingering and fingered string crossings. Bars 100 and 101 are difficult because an alteration to the finger pattern occurs on each beat. Intonation is challenging because of awkward and hard-to-hear intervals in the violin part and dissonances between piano and violin. Trills are found in bars 44 to 47 (third position), bars 59 to 62 (first position), and bars 102 to 103 (third position). Since the trills are held over several bars, they must be even. No time is given to prepare the trills. Pizzicato occurs frequently. It is fairly quick, and it involves off-beat accents which contribute to the difficulty of maintaining a steady eighth-note pulse. There is at least an eighth rest of time to prepare for the alternations between pizzicato and arco. The 2-note pizzicato chords are challenging, especially when both notes are fingered (e.g., bars 7-10, 31-35, and 81-84). Natural half-string harmonics occur three times. In each case, the hand is in third position and the fourth finger stretches to the harmonic. Bowing is a mixture of detache and short slurs, with some ties also. Many of the detache notes involve rapid bow changes. Good bow control is needed (e.g., bars 21 to 23). String crossings are rapidand frequent, involving adjacent strings only. There is a good deal of variety in bow distribution, speed, and pressure. A fairly quick bow speed is needed for the most part, with more pressure and speed on the accented notes. Less bow pressure is needed from bars 61 to 68, where the dynamic level is softer. Co-ordination between hands is difficult due to the challenging bow control, the rapid speed of finger changes, and the alterations of finger pattern. Counting requires careful attention. Rhythmic patterns must be played precisely. Some entries in the violin part occur on weak beats (e.g., bars 21, 63, and 69). Careful counting is needed here as well. A dynamic range of p to f is used. Generally, the dynamic level is mf. There are some subtle dynamic changes (e.g., bars 62 and 63, p to mp). Crescendos and decrescendos are marked infrequently. There is quite a bit of independence between the violin and piano parts. The piano part introduces the melody at the beginning, and has sixteenth note and eighth note movement much of the time. Ensemble co-ordination is challenging due to the independence of parts and the rapid tempo, as well as the tempo changes which occur.

Pedagogical Value: This piece provides opportunities to improve left hand dexterity, bow control, and co-ordination between hands. Pizzicato, trills, and harmonics present challenges, along with shifting from first to fifth positions. This piece is useful for developing rhythmic, ensemble, and aural skills.

 

JAQUE, Rhené

SPICCATO ET LEGATO

Instrumentation: Violin, piano

Duration: 2'15"

Publisher: Gordon V. Thompson

Level: Difficult

Musical Characteristics: This piece features interesting contrasts between spiccato and legato bowing. It is marked allegro with a quarter = 138, in 3/4 metre. The tempo slows to a quarter = 126 at bar 42, and returns to Tempo I at bar 75. A poco rit. is marked in bars 40-41, and in bar 74. Sixteenth notes occur in section A, which begins after a 2-bar piano introduction and lasts for 39 bars. Section B consists of varying rhythmic durations ranging from sixteenth notes to half notes, with occasional eighth rests. It is 33 bars long, beginning at bar 42. Section A' begins at bar 75, and is 21 bars long. Rhythmically, it consists entirely of sixteenth notes. Accents are marked in bars 89, 90, and 91. There is no key signature, but frequently changing accidentals are present in both the piano and violin parts. The piece begins and ends on D, and feature frequent polytonality and dissonance. The melody consists of small leaps for the most part, with larger leaps occurring in the passage from bar 63 to bar 70.

Technical Challenges: As is indicated by the title of this piece, two different bow articulations are necessary. Spiccato bowing is required throughout sections A and A'. A short, quick, middle-of-the-bow stroke is needed. Since it is an off-string stroke, little bow pressure is needed. Bow control is quite challenging due to the quick speed of the spiccato, and also due to the frequent and rapid string crossings. Bar 10 is awkward in this respect, as are bars 40 and 41. The string crossings involve adjacent strings only. Legato bowing in section B provides a contrast. Slurs and ties are found in this section. Longer bow strokes are needed, with more bow pressure, and a quick bow speed. There are frequent string crossings in this section as well, especially in bars 66 to 70. Bar 43 has stress markings on two eighth notes. Extra emphasis is needed here. First to fifth position are used in this composition, with some awkward shifts, especially in section B. Shifts occur frequently, and as a result there is often little time for the hand to adjust to a particular position. A shift on an awkward, hard-to-hear interval is found in bars 63 to 64, where a leap from first to fifth position involves the interval of a major seventh. There is no preparation time. Bars 61 and 62 involve awkward fingering. The speed of finger changes is rapid throughout, with frequent quick fingered string crossings. There are some wide leaps in section B, such as in bars 63 to 65. Accidentals occur frequently throughout the piece. These accidentals, combined with changing positions, cause the finger patterns to change quite frequently, often from bar to bar (e.g., bars 24 and 25). There is little time to adjust to the alterations, which occur on all fingers and involve some awkward stretches (e.g., bar 7 has a low first finger and a high fourth finger). Descending chromatic movement occurs in bars 20 to 24, and bars 71 to 74. These passages require quick finger changes involving some awkward finger patterns. Co-ordiation between hands is fairly challenging. Rapid finger changes, alterations of finger patterns, and changes of positions are combined with challenging bow control. The dynamic range is p to f. Most of the dynamic changes are subtle (e.g., bars 3 to 5, mf < f). Crescendos and diminuendos are marked infrequently. There is a moderate amount of independence between the violin and piano parts. The piano part maintains a quarter note pulse for the most part, with some eighth note decoration. The tempo changes and ritardandos make ensemble co-ordination relatively challenging.

Pedagogical Value: This piece is valuable for developing bow control, spiccato bowing, and left hand dexterity. Co-ordination between hands is challenging as a result. There are also opportunities to improve shifting and playing in various positions, and ensemble co-ordination.

WILLAN, Healey

SONATA NO. 2 FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO

Instrumentation: Violin, piano

Publisher: Bosworth & Co.

Level: Difficult

This sonata shows the influence of Baroque style. It consists of four movements: "Largo," "Courante," "Adagio," and "Gavotte."

"Largo," Movement I

Duration: 4'

Musical Characteristics: The opening movement is marked Largo ed espressivo, and has a rich, sustained melodic line. Metre is 4/4. The note durations range from whole notes to sixteenth notes, with frequent quarter rests. Rhythmic patterns are generally straight-forward. Form is ABA'. Section A is 18 bars long, ending with a poco rit. Section B is 16 bars long, beginning f, a tempo, at bar 19. Section A' begins with the opening melody, played an octave higher. This melody continues in E+, rather than moving to B+ as in the opening section. The A' section concludes with an 8-bar phrase, with a "poco a poco rall." beginning six bars before the end, and a fermata in the last bar. Willan uses straight-forward tonal harmonies. The movement begins and ends in E+, moving to B+ in the opening section, and moving expressively through related keys (e.g., g#- and c#-). There is a good deal of step-wise melodic motion, with occasional leaps ranging up to the interval of a seventh. There is one leap of an octave which occurs between bars 34 and 35. It signals the move from section B to section A'. Texturally, the piano part is quite thick, with 2-, 3-, and 4-note chords in both hands.

Technical Challenges: Proper bow distribution and control will assure a rich, connected melodic line. Legato bowing is needed, with smooth bow changes contributing to a sustained melodic line. An entire bow is generally used on the quarter notes and on longer notes, with less bow required on the eighth and sixteenth notes (e.g., bar 32). Slurs occur frequently, generally over the duration of a quarter note. Bow pressure is moderate at the beginning, with a heavier pressure beginning in bar 19, and in the final bars of the movement. The dynamics range from pp to f, with changes occurring infrequently. Crescendos and diminuendos occur infrequently, with the majority of the dynamic changes being sudden and obvious (e.g., bar 19 is marked f, bar 23 is marked p). There are a moderate number of string crossings, many of which may be avoided by shifting upwards on one string (e.g. bars 9, 13). First to sixth positions are used, with sixth position needed in bars 9 and 13. Shifting occurs frequently, at a slow speed. Most of the shifts are fairly common and straight-forward, and involve shifts of one position (e.g., bars 1 and 2, 17). Occasionally there is a shift occurring on a wide leap, such as in bars 9, 43, and 54. The speed of finger changes is slow, with ample time to prepare. The frequent shifts make a consistent finger pattern impossible, but the finger patterns used are fairly straight-forward, with no awkward stretches. The speed of finger changes is slow, with ample time to prepare. A well controlled vibrato is essential to achieve the cantabile, expressive style required in this movement. Fingered string crossings are moderate in number because string crossings in general are not overly frequent. Co-ordination between left and right hands is straight-forward as well. The piano part maintains a quarter note pulse throughout, making co-ordination between violin and piano simple. The piano provides support for the violin part, and fills in the harmonies.

Pedagogical Value: The "Largo" provides opportunities to work on the various aspects of tone production which contribute to a sustained, expressive melodic line. There are also opportunities to develop shifting.

 

"Courante," Movement II

Duration: 2'5"

Musical Characteristics: This movement is marked Allegro, with a metre of 4/4. Tempo is generally steady, with a poco rit. and a fermata in the last bar. Sixteenth, eighth, and quarter notes occur frequently. The rhythmic patterns are quick. Syncopation occurs occasionally. Form is ABA'. Section B is 18 bars long, beginning after the second ending. Section A' is 10 bars long, beginning with the first six bars of the melody heard in section A. The movement is in E+, with modulations to B+ and c#-. The bright, crisp melody moves generally by step during the sixteenth note passages, with frequent small leaps and occasional wider leaps of a sixth or seventh on longer note values.

Technical Challenges: First to third positions are used, with some rapid shifting, especially during the sixteenth note passages. The shifts are basic and straight-forward, with no wide leaps or awkward intervals. The basic finger pattern in first position involves high second and third fingers, but frequent alterations to the finger pattern occur because of the shifts. Accidentals in first position (mainly A#) also cause alterations to the pattern, including high and low first finger and high fourth finger. These alterations occur with no preparation time. The speed of finger changes is quite rapid, with chromatic alteration occurring frequently on the A string (B to A# to B). Finger movement must be quick because these chromatic slides occur on sixteenth notes. There are a number of short, quick trills requiring good left hand finger dexterity and precise rhythm. There is one trill which lasts for a full bar. Fingered as well as unfingered string crossings occur. A short crisp bow stroke is needed on the eighth notes, while the sixteenth notes require short, detache legato strokes. Bow strokes are generally short and quick, except on the longer note durations and the slurs. Dynamics are sparsely marked, with the dynamic level being generally mf. Bow control is challenging in bars 5 and 6 and bars 43-44 due to the rapid and frequent string crossings which occur on sixteenth notes. A relaxed right wrist is needed here to aid bow control during the rapid string crossings. String crossings occur frequently on the eighth notes as well, but there is more time to prepare them. The quick speed of finger and bow changes, plus shifts of position and changing bow articulation, make co-ordination between left and right hands relatively complex. The piano part consists of rhythms which are similar to those in the violin part, with sixteenth note passages acting as a counter-melody at times (e.g., bars 1 to 4). Co-ordination between violin and piano is not difficult as long as both players maintain a steay tempo and constant sense of the beat.

Pedagogical Value: This movement provides opportunities to work on varying bow articulation, bow control, and left hand finger dexterity. There are also opportunities to practise trills.

 

"Adagio," Movement III

Duration: 1'

Musical Characteristics: The "Adagio" is solemn, marked sonore, with a metre of 3/2. Tempo is steady throughout, except for a fermata on the last note. Note durations range from eighth notes to dotted whole notes. The rhythmic motion is generally slow, with several ties over the bar line. This through-composed movement is 16 bars in length. The first phrase begins p. Bar 9 is marked espressivo and begins with a crescendo and decrescendo. The harmonic motion in c#- is conventional, featuring four repetitions in the left hand of the piano part of a descending C# B A G# pattern, with the movement ending on the G#+ chord which is the dominant of c#-. The melody contains some step-wise motion, and frequent leaps of fourths and fifths. Texture is quite thick in the right hand of the piano part, with 2- and 3-note chords.

Technical Challenges: A legato bow stroke and smooth bow changes are necessary. Bowing is detache, except for the slurs in bars 9 and 15. The slow tempo and long note durations necessitate the use of long, controlled bow strokes. Bow pressure should be quite light since the dynamic level is fairly soft. A well controlled vibrato is needed to enhance the expressive melodic line. A moderate number of string crossings occur, with ample time to prepare. The speed of finger changes is slow. First to sixth positions are used. There is ample preparation time for position changes. Many of the shifts occur on fairly small intervals which are easy to hear. The shift to sixth position on the D string which is marked in bar 5 is the most difficult shift found in the "Adagio." The downward shift to second position which occurs in the following bar involves the interval of a fifth, which is the largest interval shift in the movement. All string crossings are fingered because no open strings are used. Co-ordination between left and right hands is not difficult for the violinist. The piano part features slow rhythms with frequent ties. The piano provides basic harmonic support for the violin part. For good ensemble co-ordination, both players must count carefully on the tied notes and on the notes of long duration.

Pedagogical Value: This movement provides opportunities to work on expressive playing with legato bowing, smooth and accurate shifting, and even vibrato.

 

"Gavotte," Movement IV

Duration: 1'20"

Musical Characteristics: The final movement is marked Allegretto with a metre of 2/2. There is one bar of 2/4 at bar 51. The rhythmic patterns are fairly consistent, with frequent eighth, quarter, and half notes, and a dotted half note in bar 37 and a whole note in the final bar. Ties occur frequently throughout. Accents are marked in bars 4 and 41. The form is ABA'. Section A is 12 bars long and is repeated. It begins in E+ and moves to B+. Section B begins after the repeat sign and is 25 bars long. It begins in B+ and moves to g#-. Section A' begins at bar 38, and is identical to section A for the first eight bars. There is a rall. e cresc. marked in bar 50, and a fermata in the final bar. Section A' is in the key of E+ throughout. The melody moves quite quickly and contains step-wise motion and movement by leaps of no more than a fourth or a fifth.

Technical Challenges: The quick tempo of the "Gavotte" makes bow control challenging, and necessitates quick bow changes. Bowing is legato on the eighth notes, using a short bow stroke in the middle of the bow. The quarter notes require a crisp bow stroke, and are played on the string. Slurs are marked occasionally, and are of short duration, but detache strokes are mainly used. More bow is needed on the longer note durations (e.g., bars 7, 8, 9, 24, and 25). Dynamics are sparsely marked, with mf in bar 1 and ff in the final bar. Bow pressure is moderate to heavy, with more pressure and speed needed on the accents. All string crossings involve adjacent strings. The string crossings on the eighth note passages are rapid, with no time to prepare (e.g., bar 7). The finger pattern in first position involves high second and third fingers, with low first finger where A# and D# occur on the A and D strings respectively. In third position, which is the highest position used, the finger pattern often involves high first finger. The shifting is rapid but straight-forward for the most part, with no wide leaps or awkward intervals. Trills are marked on longer note durations in bars 11, 36, and 52. They require good left hand finger dexterity. Generally, the speed of finger changes is quick. Many of the string crossings take advantage of open strings (e.g., bar 7). Fingered string crossings are infrequent. There is some chromatic movement involving the slide of a finger (e.g., in bars 12, 17, and 21-2). Co-ordination between hands is challenging because of the quick finger and bow changes, and because of changing bow articulation and left hand finger patterns. The piano part is fairly independent of the violin part, and has frequent eighth note passages which act as a countermelody to the violin part. Careful counting is needed by both players to overcome ensemble difficulties caused by the independence of parts.

Pedagogical Value: This movement is valuable for improving bow control, and for developing skill in rapid shifting and finger changes.

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