The open strings:
A bit more…
Scordatura in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante:
(tuned a semi-tone higher)
The ultimate in subdivision…
Richard Strauss: Don Quixote, Variation II
To start at a specific movement just click on its title.
The music of Marin Marais (1656 – 1728) has gained popularity through the advocacy of such viol players as Jordi Savall, a popularity enhanced by the very successful film – a fictional account of Marais’ young life – directed by Alain Corneau: Tous les matins du monde. Notice the number of strings, the frets and the sloping shoulders (the instrument, not the player!) which are typical of the viol family; but, most of all, enjoy the music…
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat, BWV 1051. A chance to see the viola da braccio and the viola da gamba in action together. Again, notice the different shapes and string numbers of the viol and violin families and the different bow grip of the viol players.
I love the way that the two violas da braccio chase one another in canon in the first movement – Bach, as ever, being simultaneously technically brilliant and emotionally satisfying.
As an erstwhile clarinettist, I’ve always been rather territorial about the two Brahms clarinet sonatas (Op. 120, Nos. 1 & 2). When people have described them as viola works (the composer himself produced versions for viola), I’ve given them a very hard stare. But – in this respect, anyway – age has mellowed me, and I’m now prepared to (grudgingly) concede that they don’t sound too awful on the stringed instrument…
This two movement Rhapsody Concerto is one of Martinů‘s later works. As its title suggests, it’s in a freer, more romantic style than his earlier, neoclassical pieces. People argue that the composer was overly prolific but there are, without question, great moments in his music: this is one of them.
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