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sonnichs

Mozart - K465 - Fingering

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Measure 35 of the Mozart K465 string quartet has been giving me some trouble. (see attached) If you look at the broken thirds there if I play them "normally" in 1st position, I have a struggle with the transfer from the D to the A string. This is being played at 132MM. (At slower speeds less than 120MM anything works for me)

 

To be fair age has made pulling my 1st finger back in such passages difficult and surely contributes but the passage always comes out rough or with a missed B note. I show two other fingerings which could work. The 2nd one has some "fluence" problems moving to the open A. Surprisingly for me the last seems to work best, when playing this passage a tempo.

 

I would be curious to hear from others and which fingering they might select, with, important, a tempo around 132MM. (We usually play it a peg slower but I like to "over engineer" final practice speeds as a safety measure).

 

I show a second example from this work, moved to the G string in the development section.

 

cheers

Fritz

post-24320-0-23105000-1460546115_thumb.jpg

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Best I can do for you is to just anticipate or let the A string look forward to having the bow hit it- don't be slow or tardy.  I'm having the same problem, if I can can it a problem/laziness, - starting A on g string and finishing on c or d on the e string- broken thirds.  What I'm trying to tell is to let the bow win the race instead on the left hand notes leading the way.  

 

2 hrs later............. now that I am awake I see that the best option is the third option.  G string for the five notes, then D string for the rest excepting the last 8th note.   May as well move to the G string for the rest of the notes or at least try it a few times then move to what would be easier.  

 

Passage B, second measure- first 3 notes D string and then move to the A string so that you can be heard and maybe more importantly, to catch back up to speed if need be.  Where's Appleman, Fine and Sunday when you need them?

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For speed, the first one has a string crossing in an awkward place.  The third one has a big shift that will slow it down and make it uneven and is unstylistic.  The second one is just right :)  On the open A you will change to first position from second.  As you know, the thing to do is play it at 120 where it's comfortable and every day click the metronome up one notch.  In 12 days or sooner you will have it. 

 

Also -- if the string crossing is difficult you can play the part on the D string before the crossing very leaned toward the A string so that the crossing is just a small movement rather than a big jump.  You should not be able to hear any string crossing.

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This one will probably have everyone laughing.  It works adequately, but until I could try it with an actual quartet rehearsal I wouldn't be sure.

 

Second position all the way through to the C, then slide back to the first position on the B.  But of course like every other way, it is a matter of how well and quickly it can be executed.  IMO, most "convenience" fingerings depend on a person's individual abilities or personal make up.

 

I DO know that a lot of half step slides can be put in in the right places without being heard.  But it might not work here.  It works better higher up because of the shorter distances.  After all, people still often play the top of a scale 4-4-4.

 

—MO 

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I bet that way, 2nd pos. C,  would sound all buttery and creamy if executed properly.

 

Next question is at B.  First measure understandable but where to start for the 2nd measure.

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BTW, and IMO,   :) ,

 

I suspect that in Mozart's day, and maybe even TO-day, the real pros would just play it in first position and be done with it, relying on their skill to overcome what ever there is to overcome.  After all, played up to speed and with three other instruments, the ear of the listener is not likely to be offended; there's too much going on.  The only problems, IMO, are the change of string and an open A.  Not very serious, it seems to me.  

 

I believe that fingerings should never be thought of when playing slowly.  I've seen fingerings—which I call "academic's fingerings"—which work very well and make all the sense in the world when devised by some professor over a drafting table while sipping tea.  I could give examples but wouldn't want to embarrass a certain fellow who wrote a book a couple of decades ago.   :)  Plus, I could be wrong.   <_<

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^A pro could play it all on the G-string if he wanted but the op is asking for fingering advice.  Taking advantage of an open string for a shift is a typical thing to do, especially ascending and especially in early music.  You want to avoid unnecessary string crossings as well unless it's for effect.  That's the drafting table logic behind my fingering :)

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Bill, and all,

 

I think Bill's choice of the second example is fine, and well reasoned.  

 

Here we are talking about fingerings somewhat in the abstract.  And the minute the first rehearsal comes, all the things that work well in the practice room don't always work so well—or are more trouble than they are worth—when we are up to speed with other instruments.  I meant for my point to be that a lot of people form their fingerings in slow motion and in the privacy of their den.  Certainly, the more someone has performed, the better they can imagine in advance what might work well.

 

In Sonnich's examples, IMO not one fingering is ideal, and each has its drawbacks or can't solve every problem.  So we can discuss them and that is good and helpful. But about one play-through with our other 3 well meaning colleagues and what feels best for the violinist will probably be what we'll use, no matter how elegant the assumed fingering.  For example, Sonnich pointed out that he has trouble "pulling his 1st finger back" (I assume "lifting" is what he meant), so that would ordinarily omit the first example.  But once he got with the quartet, he'd probably be able to pull it off (no pun int.).

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Back at it again. Thanks for all the comments--everyone had good points. I will put Will's comment above all regarding how it might be played in Mozart's day. Reading Leopold's book gives us insights and I have oft read that in the days before the chinrest a profusion of shifting was avoided. You all emphasized the difficulty presented of hitting the A string at just the right time and I guess that is indeed the crux of the matter for me. Playing with increasing MM rates when it just begins to get ragged for me (around 130) i often don't hear the A string ring before the first finger comes down on it. Playing with accents off the beats has helped. At any rate this is a very exposed and charming passage that rotates around the quartet and there are few places for refuge.

 

Will's last comment is well stated. We all are told "to practice slowly at first" ad nauseum but the thing teachers never tell you is that hands can act like machines and they react differently at different speeds. How many times have I showed up at the first orchestra rehearsal well prepared to find out that the conductor is going to take off at 144MM.  Especially for an amateur (moi) it would be really good to start with a "safe and acceptable" fingering to begin with and not learn it with something that generally falls apart once concert tempo is reached. Unlearning is a lot more difficult than learning for me. The other thing I learned early on is the "audience factor". At least for me I perform at about 80% with a room full of faces staring at me. I generally like to learn a passage about 10MM faster than needed to hedge my bet.

 

Thanks for all the great feedback.

Fritz

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If you are having trouble with the string crossing you coulc start the 16th notes on a downbow and pay 4 in a bow so the open A comes on the bow change. That will probably be smoother and more in time.

 

Andy

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Choose the 1st position fingering. Practice the semiquavers as dotted rhythms, separate bows. Start with the "pi-zza" (long-short) rhythm, and play at least 10 times as quickly as you can with separate bows. Then switch to "o-range" (short-long) at least 10 times, or as much as you can stand it, and as quickly as you can with separate bows. It's good to sing these words in your mind as you play, as it's easy to control your tempo. Then play as written. I think you can fix your problem in a few minutes.

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If I understand correctly that the issue is with the B in first postion, put that finger down at the same time as the G.  It at least needs to be there before you go to the A string!  Also, the quickest string crossing is with the lower arm alone.  Practice just going between G and B real quickly, separate bows, slurred, etc.  Isolate the problem.  Something else, if you lose 20% in front of an audience the problem can be the way you hold your violin or other technique that's not optimal but is "good enough" when there's no stress.

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I didn't know we were talking to Fritz!!!   Although I see now you signed the OP, I missed it.  One can hardly have a better name or nickname.   :)

 

It's good you brought up the subject of fingering, and we would probably all benefit from a continuing discussion.  No telling where it might lead.   :)  Personally, I think it is one of the areas of stringed instrument playing that keeps the whole effort interesting.

 

I think you put it really well when you said, "hands...react differently at different speeds."  Although I'm not knowledgable enough to know if some people are able to eventually play any fingering at any speed, what you say is certainly true for me.  And what looks lovely on paper, or in theory, or what works at half-speed, just doesn't always work under "battlefield conditions."

 

I'm not much of a scholar, but Sonnich brings up what seems to be an excellent point when he mentions that in Mozart's day there were no chin rests and shoulder pads.  I don't know if that would have kept the best violinists of the day from using very "fancy" fingerings, but it might have made them think twice.   :)   But, OTOH, if they lived today they would certainly use every fingering tool at their disposal to give the best performance they could, to their ear, just as we try to.  So I don't know if we should stick with what we think they might have done, or be as sophisticated as we can or think we need to be.

 

I recommend two books on fingering, along with Szigeti's "A Violinist's Notebook."  The others are The Carl Flesch and Yampolsky.  (I'll have to get the exact titles.)  I would like to know anyone else's recommendations.

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I would play it in first.  The 2nd position option seems better, but most people have trouble finding 2nd position and this has to happen very fast.  My teacher always insisted we use the easiest to remember fingering for orchestral and chamber music - we could be as fancy as we wanted on solo repertoire but not on ensemble music.   He insisted we all learn the Marriage of Figaro audition passage entirely in first position - dead cold (viola part).   Of course he only had two orchestra jobs in his entire life - Principal of Cleveland and then the NYP (as a condition of the Cleveland Conductor taking over the NYP Podium, his principal violist came with him) - so maybe he didn't know what he was talking about ;-).

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The 2nd position option seems better, but most people have trouble finding 2nd position and this has to happen very fast.  

A good point, which Carl Flesch also made.  He said that in second position "...the hand has no support and is, as it were, suspended in mid-air.  Even the most proficient violinist feels ill at ease when called upon to begin a phrase in the second position..."

 

He continues, when discussing an example, "In a case such as this, a conscientious violinist will frequently feel compelled to test the d-sharp...by means of a hardly audible pizzicato, produced by the fourth finger of the left hand."

 

—from page 25 of "Violin Fingering"

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The first measure should be taken into consideration.  Finishing that measure with 4th finger the next note is a natural spot to land with 2nd finger.  This would mean the 1st position used based on what's here to see note wise.  

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I would play it all in 1st position and use all open A's and take advantage of that string crossing pattern f# a / g b .  That's real idiomatic in Mozart but I didn't notice it before.  Also, how difficult it is to start it in 2nd postion depends on what came before; you might already be in 2nd position.

 

Edit: actually, I'm back to where I started -- the string crossings would be idiomatic for separate bows.  This time I didn't notice the slur.

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Agreed Will.  I use 2nd position all the time, more than most people probably, but would avoid it here, because it is risky,  I generally use it when, within a passage, there is a good place to slide up or down a half step, or there is plenty of time to find the position before the start of the passage.  Practice your Shradieck regularly, and this passage should not pose such a problem in 1st position;-).

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 Practice your Shradieck regularly,

I love Schradieck.  If I had to take a few things with me to death row the first two would be Schradieck and the Casorti bowing book.  And maybe a set of strings or two.  :-)

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We preformed this over the weekend and I am back online --wanted to say thanks again for the additional posts. More great information here than I could have asked for.  I wish this type of discussion  was more often presented in practice books which are too often devoid of any text.  For the performance I used 2nd position and per Andrew's comment I started on a down bow--much easier.  I still want to look at reversing bows later. I indeed generally use some of the practice methods that Bill and Doug recommended.  Will and Dr. S make and interesting point that I never thought of--there are few reference bearings into 2nd position. Sometimes our subconscious tells us things that we don't understand if we don't analyze (I have been accused of over-analyzing violin issues but then I work in physics and it is my natural flaw).

 

Fingering is always problematic for me--at the usual slow startup practice speed a lot works-- and then when the conductor slams down his baton at 144MM you are out of luck--you learned a less than adequate fingering and it is "burned in". That is why I have come here often for advice on violin and viola fingerings and really appreciate this forum. 

 

Per Bill- these broken arpeggios are indeed one of Mozarts favorite tricks  in warding off players like me. (I can just hear his ridiculous laugh about this as presented in "Amadeus") I long while back I asked this form about  his KV301 ( See "Fingering for Mozart Sonata - KV301" 


This apparently "easy" little sonata is a devil due to the almost ornamental broken arpeggios.

 

SO-I have one more go at performing this in May-- Thanks again all!

 

Fritz (not Kreisler!)

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