Monday, May 03, 2010

My summer project for the viola

I needed to buy new rosin for my viola bow (the stuff I had was terrible) and I couldn't spend just $3 on an online order with Shar, so I went looking for something else to buy.  I looked through the accessories but I didn't need anything else.  Then I remembered that I wanted something new to keep my skills in shape this summer, and bought something that I've been meaning to get for a long time.  I've had the viola transcriptions of Bach's Six Suites for solo cello since high school but I'm getting tired of playing those. So I bought Bach's Six Sonatas and Partitas for violin transcribed for viola.

I love these pieces on the violin and I've had my eye on the viola version for a long time.  But I've always considered these suites far beyond my skill level.  And to be honest, they are.  My formal viola training ended long before I had a chance to learn how to do things like double stops (playing on two or more strings at the same time) the right way.  But the faster movements are not as impossible as I initially thought.  I played through a couple of movements last week and while I'm not going to perform them in public anytime soon, I might actually be able to enjoy learning them on my own.  Sadly, I fear the Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 will long remain out of my grasp.  And my favorite, the Prelude to Partita No. 3, is also nearly impossible for me to play until I learn how to cross strings effectively.  My brother asked me last night how many summers this project would last.  I replied "as many as it takes."

Last night his girlfriend sent me a recording of these suites played on the viola, so I have a better idea of what these pieces are supposed to sound like when a professional plays them.  I love the deeper, fuller sound of the viola, though the violist, Scott Slapin, plays them a bit more conservatively than Henryk Szeryng plays them on the violin. However, conservative isn't a bad goal for me.  I've never been a flashy performer so I could do worse than take a more relaxed approach to these pieces.

The new rosin is working out well, in case anyone was wondering.

No comments: