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8.572381 - Takako Nishizaki Plays Suzuki Evergreens, Vol. 4

Takako Nishizaki plays
Suzuki Evergreens • Volume 4


The fourth volume of the Takako Nishizaki Plays Suzuki Evergreens starts with the a transcription for violin of the Gavottes from Bach’s Suite No. 6 for unaccompanied cello. Bach wrote his six Suites at Cöthen, about the year 1720. The sixth of the suites, the Suite in D major, BWV 1012, was written for a five-string instrument, with an additional top string tuned to E. It has been suggested that he wrote this more difficult suite for the viola pomposa, a five-string viola that found occasional use from 1725 to about 1770. It seems more likely, however, that he actually designed this work for the violoncello piccolo, a smaller form of cello, used for more elaborate solo work and one that he uses elsewhere.

Antonio Vivaldi was a native of Venice, the city where he made his principal career. Ordained priest, he was associated, intermittently at least, with a girls’ school famous for its music, the Ospedale della Pietà, but busied himself also in the opera house, while winning fame for his phenomenal performances as a violinist. In 1711 he published in Amsterdam a set of twelve concertos under the title L’estro armonico for various groups of string instruments. The sixth, the Concerto in A minor, RV 356, is for solo violin and strings. The second of the three movements of the concerto is in the form of an aria for the solo violin, accompanied only by the violins and viola of the orchestra.

The six concertos that make up Vivaldi’s Op. 12, were published in Amsterdam in 1729. The first of the set is the Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 12, No. 1, RV 317. In the version for violin and piano the former instrument seems to have greater prominence, with the violin assuming sole responsibility for the passages shared with the orchestra in the tutti passage of the ritornello in the outer movements. The central slow movement has a relatively extended orchestral introduction, arranged for the piano in the solo violin and piano version. The soloist eventually enters with the expected aria characteristic of many of the slow movements of Vivaldi’s solo concertos. The third movement is in a rapid 3/8 metre.

The Country Dance by Mozart’s wife’s cousin, Carl Maria von Weber, gives a chance for spiccato or detached staccato playing. It is followed by a German Dance by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, a near contemporary of Haydn. The piece offers no great difficulty, except perhaps in its key of E flat.

Francesco Maria Veracini was born in Florence in 1690, making him just five years younger than Handel, J.S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti. He enjoyed an international career as a violinist, appearing at important events in Venice and in London before being engaged for some years at the court in Dresden. In later years he appeared from time to time in London, where he also concerned himself with opera. His final years were spent in Florence, where he died in 1768. His twelve Sonate accademiche of 1744, dedicated to August II, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, make a significant and original contribution to violin repertoire, intended, as the title suggests, rather for performers than for amateurs. The Giga is the last movement of Veracini’s Sonata accademica in D minor, Op. 2, No. 7.

Johann Sebastian Bach was strongly influenced by Vivaldi, some of whose concertos he transcribed for harpsichord. His own concertos largely follow the pattern of the Vivaldi solo concerto. A number of these, written during his years as Court Director of Music to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, only survive in later arrangements Bach made of them for use in Leipzig. Three violin concertos, however, remain also in their original form, one of them the Concerto in D minor for Two Violins, BWV 1043. The two solo violin parts are equal in importance and difficulty and Volume 5 of the Suzuki Violin School also offers the first violin part, which follows the second in opening the concerto. The close interweaving and antiphonal use of the two violins is clear in the original version for two solo violins, strings and continuo. It will be noticed that the second and first violin entries are doubled by the orchestra, so that it is only in bar 21 that the first solo violin is heard with a sparse accompaniment. Four bars later the second violin enters, echoing the first violin, a procedure followed in the rest of the movement, as one players follows the other.

Keith Anderson

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