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Most technically (digitally) difficult violin piece to play


stephen maloney
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Hi guys,

This is a slightly generic topic that gets batted about once in a while, but curious to know what you think.

I asked Charles Castleman once and he said "Carnival of Venice" by Paganini. Perlman often says "Beethoven Concerto".

Zukerman admits to difficulty with Solo Bach and being unable to play Ernst (I've never heard him play anything extremely hard, maybe the hardest thing I've heard was Vieuxtemps 5).

I'm not talking about the difficulty of the spirituality of Mozart and Bach. I mean, sheer digital, "oh s**t how do i even approach this" level of technique to play it even 1/4 tempo at first.

Right now, for me, I would say Paganini "God save the Queen". Just a finger twister. Others would say a piece or 2 of Ernst, usually citing Last Rose or Erlkonig. I think GSTQ is about as hard as it gets.

.01 for your thoughts on this.

Steve

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How about Bazzini's Dance of the Goblins?

This piece seems to be fairly standard fare for a lot of students these days....

The Ernst is certainly impressive to pull off....

I might vote for some of the Ysaye Sonatas?

I'm not a cellist and it wasn't your question but I'd say the Britten Suites are a challenge

and for viola, perhaps some of the Hindemith solo material?

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This piece seems to be fairly standard fare for a lot of students these days....

The Ernst is certainly impressive to pull off....

I might vote for some of the Ysaye Sonatas?

I'm not a cellist and it wasn't your question but I'd say the Britten Suites are a challenge

and for viola, perhaps some of the Hindemith solo material?

The Bazzini is more of a "trick" sort of piece and some of the technique, while by no means easy,

is not of the same arduousness as the Paganini GSTQ. If David Garrett can play it, it's not that hard, put

it that way. Actually the Paganini caprices are played on Viola also, no? I would think some of the extensions

and fingerings in there, already hard on violin, would be monstrously hard on viola and would require either using a smaller instrument or having enormous, flexible hands, or both.

Ysaye 6 is probably the hardest of the set of 6. I've heard there is a piece by Sauret which is supposed to be ridiculous.

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Ernst is definitely some of the most fiendish technical writing out there. How about Locatelli's caprice, "labyrinth"? That's as tricky as it gets and I hear many say its worse than Paganini.

I'm going to check it on Petrucci - I think you mean the one that's all ricochet, right? Oistrakh played it; certainly his technique was second to none, though he never showed it off like Fodor or other "empty" players. Funny thing about Fodor (who is excellent, but of course no Oistrakh), I remember reading that at the Tchaikovsky competition, Oistrakh's only compliment of Fodor's playing was "you have an enviable downbow staccato". Talk about damning with faint praise...

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There was a music book, much like Gingold's Orchestral bits on the International edition, except these were the hard parts from violin concertos and sonatas. When younger, the Auer, Galamian, Flesch books were a horrible read, so when I encounter this 3 vol. set in Graz, it was overwhelming. As was the price. I continued on to Vienna in hopes of finding it cheaper or used, but in the short time there, i couldn't locate a copy.

This book was an inspiration to put my little "excerpts" notebook together. As it turned out, there are stylistic patterns of Sarasate (Arbos does some interesting things too), Ysaye, Kreisler, Ernst, etc., and the little time i put into it paid off. Most of these players/composers follow a traditionally harmonic form and though difficult, the "yoga" moves can be learned, but over weeks or months. The truly gifted will get it after hours or days, but they are the exception.

Then I met a Sevcik freak who could play Dounis and my opinion of hand forms changed. Sevcik at speed is purely about agility. When i used to while about not being able to play octaves, tenths and fingered-octaves (still can't), Ms Maehashi's name was often mentioned (to make me feel better?). I had no idea who she was, but i did see Alicia de Larrocha several times and she would leap octaves/tenths faster than I could draw a double stop - or so it sounded in a large hall. Playing Wagner is probably more about agility than hand formation, as are some of the ascending lines of the Tchaikovsky concerto.

So to get to this long-winded points. For mostly pre-Kreisler violin compositions, ideally there's a way to get there, some way. It's with the super-agile players, that modern composers have written impossible fingerings for mere mortals. For me, as it is impossible to "dunk" anything in on an professional basketball hoop, there are pieces i could never play. There are some interesting pieces written in the 20th century, and cant remember who it was but, it was basically the opening of the Berg concerto (rolling fifths -intervals - across the strings) as quadruple-stop. The Bach C-major unaccompanied Sonata, Paganini concertos are difficult enough, and sounds good, there are double and triple stop harmonics that are just too difficult to manage, and though sounding interesting, aren't worth it.

Castleman's Ysaye recording, as a student, is recommended listening. I disliked it at first, but he successfully navigates the pieces without much personality and that's a good way to hear it.

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First, apologies for the grammatical errors in my posts.

Someone asked about the author of the "excerpts" book I saw in Graz. This was over 20 years ago before the Berlin Wall came down. I can't remember who it was, or from what school, but might have been dutch? or from a northern european school of string playing? I don't know why I think this, but the fingerings were "modern." The text was in German. It appeared at the time that the copyrights and distribution in Austria were more relaxed. There were pieces by composers that I'd never heard of in those stores.

On fingerings, the book by the late-great, Robert Gerle, is not too thick and conceptually helpful.

I might as well ask here: I've been looking for a "good" Piano Quintet version of the Mendelssohn Octet. Not an arrangement or a reduction, but an accurate transcription, measure for measure. These types of transcriptions are listed in books prior to the 1920s, but have not been able to find a copy of this particular combination at many of the large university libraries. They are helpful for coaching. I have not checked UofTexas, which i probably should do. Also, anyone know if a cello octet had performed this at one point (perhaps at a cello congress)?

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Hi guys,

This is a slightly generic topic that gets batted about once in a while, but curious to know what you think.

I asked Charles Castleman once and he said "Carnival of Venice" by Paganini. Perlman often says "Beethoven Concerto".

Zukerman admits to difficulty with Solo Bach and being unable to play Ernst (I've never heard him play anything extremely hard, maybe the hardest thing I've heard was Vieuxtemps 5).

I'm not talking about the difficulty of the spirituality of Mozart and Bach. I mean, sheer digital, "oh s**t how do i even approach this" level of technique to play it even 1/4 tempo at first.

Right now, for me, I would say Paganini "God save the Queen". Just a finger twister. Others would say a piece or 2 of Ernst, usually citing Last Rose or Erlkonig. I think GSTQ is about as hard as it gets.

.01 for your thoughts on this.

Steve

Try this piece....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YflfGMo3O2Q

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  • 9 years later...

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