Have you ever dreamed about playing a difficult violin solo? Have you ever heard it played and really wanted to try to do that? The sounds created by the violinist living in your head. The theme staying in your
mind long after the notes have stopped. Thinking........if I practice enough would I be able to at least master that solo enough to enjoy playing it? You buy the printed music and you study it, even mark some fingerings and bowings. You look for recordings of the selection and then
compare to see which style you like the best. Then quietly, when you are alone at the house, you take out your violin and tune it up and try the first notes. Where will it go from here? Will you be able to play the entire solo someday? How hard are you willing to work and how many hours of practice can you put towards it?
Tomaso Antonio Vitali Chaconne
Tomaso Bear presents his guide to the Tomaso Vitale Chaconne.
A chaconne is a set of variations over a ground. It is also spelled Ciaconne and is a fiery and suggestive dance that appeared in Spain about 1600 and eventually gave its name to this musical form. Tomaso Antonio Vitali was born in Bologna, Italy March 7, 1663 and died May 9, 1745. He was a violinist who was taught by his father. He was leader of the Este orchestra from 1675-1742. There are many Vitali Chaconnes. It was originally written for violin and basso continuo and the first famous publication by Ferdinand David (1810-1745) was published posthumously . He "enhanced" it to be a virtuoso showpiece rather than the original which is more in the style of the Bach Chaconne. The original doesn't have any of the octave or really high parts and the piano part is also very bare. There is even some doubt now whether it was actually by Vitali at all. Most people record the Leopold Charlier version although the original is also played but people really consider them as two separate pieces because they are so totally different. Ferdinand David's set the tone for the many following interpretations that were written. The one I am going to discuss is the Leopold Charlier arrangement. If you play the Charlier arrangement you need to go for it, no holding back.
When the violin opens with the theme. The first 2 phrases makeup the theme. One should try to create an expansiveness with the sound. The bow should be like taffy with uninterupted sound. It is written upon repeated four-measure phrases and builds to a climax.
Tomaso Bear tip 1.= There are many variations throughout the chaconne. Each variation is 8 measures long, then subdivided by 4 measures of differing phrases.
Measure 17 begins the variations, measure 21 and then 22 are the same but measure 22 is embellished and measure 23 is embellished even more. Measure 24 starts the second variation, and the third in measure 37. Measure 37 begins in another key and is very intense and agitated.
Sometimes the changes in the group of 8 measures divided into groups of 4 measure
are done by changing douples to triples.
Dolce begins in measure 45 with another variation of (did I mention 8 measures?). Four plain and 4 fancy and four even fancier. The middle one being leggiero ( lightly) and the last one being
p un poco piu vivo
(piano with a little more speed).
Again we will now have at measure 53 another variation of (did I mention 8 measures?) Four of the same general shape and the second 4 related, and we come upon the sospirando (sighing).
Tomaso Bear tip 2.= Music is about tension and relaxation. And now we reach the largo, energetico, --
the same note is played again and again and again...energy put in the notes will have the audience begging for us to change the note. There are F#'s going to G's so it needs energy.
The next measures at 77 are a bit of fluff, hard to play fluff, but fluff.
measures 85 -88 are a transition, it moves from g minor to G major to and E7 fully diminished (which is the 5th of A) to resolve to get back to the melody. The melody returns at Tempo I in the key of a minor.
In Tempo I we have the theme, which we have not heard for a while and then, in measure 97 there is a (did I mention 8 measures?) 8 measure variation, 4 measures of doubles and 4 measures of triples. In measure 105 there is another varitation (did I mention 8 measures?) of 4 measure of doubles and 4 measure of triples.
The chain supension has now arrived
A chain suspension is a consonanse, alternating with a disonance
while only one note changes in the chord at a time
This one also happens to be a chromatic chain suspension
During this chain suspension the key moves back to g minor.
measures 123-126 are a transition,
On to another (did I mention 8 measures?) variation measures 127-134 in te key of E-flat Major.
On to another (did I mention 8 measures?) variation measures 135 (in e-flat minor) -142.
In measure 143 the theme returns in g minor, though it is slightly embellished.
We find measure 159 similar to measure 24
and measure 167 similar to measure 33
And measure 171 similar to measure 77
Tomaso Bear tip 3.= Recognizing the similarities and how the variations relate and grow out of each other gives the piece forlamized structure and allows the player to make intelligent choices in
order to make the piece a cohesive unit.
At measure 175 we find a broken chain made of the chords that underlie the piece.
From 183 until 195 the chord structures built. At 187 a double stop is added on the bottom and at 191 more excitement is added by increasing from triples to sixteenth notes, all notes being double stops.
At measure 195 the theme is back in octaves an octave higher
A cadenza is played and then the final chord in g minor.
Tomaso Bear has invited a bakers dozen of his friends to come to his page
and play the Charlier arrangement of the Vitali Chaconne in g minor with him
Sarah Chang with piano
Glazser Bozso with orchestra
Vitali Chaconne in g minor
Kalmus Publications 1480-012 $6.95
Charlier-Auer = Carl Fischer 1480-105 $7.95
Jacobsen = Peters Edition 1480-106 $9.95
David-Schradieck = G. Schirmer 1480-110 $6.95
Charlier Francescatti = International Music 1480-111 $8.75
I am listing these available from Shar music Company. If anyone else has the numbers,editions, and prices from another company and wants to type them up I will include them.
Nathan Milstein, violin, 1946 Library of Congress Recital Josef Blatt, piano - Bridge Records
Sweet Sorrow, Sarah Chang EMI Classics, English Chamber Orchestra