January 24, 2012 – de Beriot Concerto No. 9 1st Movement

The first movement of the Charles de Beriot’s Concerto No. 9 in A minor  in an excellent showy piece for the developing violinist. The work moves up to 8th position on the fingerboard and uses extensive passage of double stops on multiple strings including thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths and octaves. Students will read passages an octave above. Those passages can be practiced lower on the fingerboard before taking into higher positions. Students should be very comfortable with shifting to all positions while keeping the left hand shape intact. The bow should be able to work efficiently in string crossings, slurred runs, long strokes, and double stops with string crossings.

It is available in the Barbara Barber “Solos for Young Violinists” Volume 4. It also comes independently as a concerto with all movements in an edition by Schirmer, edited by Henry Schradieck.  In the Schirmer edition, there is a note error in m. 38. The F# should be F double sharp.

To prepare for this piece, I would recommend students play a three octave a minor scale in all forms (natural, harmonic, and melodic), and the Flesch arpeggios, with appropriate accelerations. Students should also play an a minor scale in octaves, making sure that the second and third finger of the left hand float along on top of the string without tension.

Teachers may also want to prepare students with an etude that uses sixths, fourths, fifths thirds, and octaves in this key signature. I would recommend Etudes No. 12, 13, and 17 from the Josephine Trott Melodious double stops. Or even No. 18 from de Beriot’s own “Thirty Concert Studies.”

Ornamentation used in the pieces includes trills, grace notes, and ornamental runs. All runs will need to be timed appropriately. Grace should also be practiced at slow tempi for precision. Trills should be removed to help with rhythm and added as soon as notes and rhythms are clear.

Chromatic passages should be worked to make sure half steps and whole steps are accurately paces. Examples include m. 38, 48, 49 and 50.

There is an interesting trick in m. 55. It is introduced in 1st position and can be practiced several times there without shifting. As the piece continues in m. 57, the figure moves up and down the fingerboard. The teacher can help student master this and move it up and down the fingerboard as a preparation to playing the passage as written.

Extensive octave work is used in m. 62 to m. 73. Scales and other melodies in octaves would be helpful for this section.

There is a sul D passages in m. 90 that is repeated in m. 98. This is great practice for a later section that is sul D with a double stop drone of open G. This passage can be practiced without the G drone until shifts are comfortable. The G will assist in tuning of the passage.

In m. 110, another trick is used. There is a 6 note bariolage pattern repeated up and down the fingerboard. It can be practiced low on the fingerboard and moved up and down the fingerboard chromatically (away from the music) to assist with practicing this passage.

There is a high double stop passage in m. 116 that can be practices in third position without and with double stops. The difficulty will be the angle of the first finger in position to enable the student to keep the first finger across two strings in sixth position. The strings become further apart at this high position, so placing the finger on both strings becomes difficult.

The Barber edition has a change in position in m. 18. I prefer the Schradieck fingering that remains in the higher position. This is great practice for when students will see this type of work in more difficult concertos.

Broken chords in m. 124 can be practiced by moving the left hand from chord to chord (without use of the bow), then adding the bow. This passage can also be practiced with just the bow hand alone to get proper string crossing and sforzando articulation.

The final difficult passages will be the chordal section in m. 130. The notes on the A and E string can be isolated and worked to incorporate the double stops with extensions. Pinky may need to flatten and elbow come around the body of the violin to reach the octave between 2nd and 4th finger. Once the upper notes can be placed and played in tune, student can add first finger on the D string. Finally, this passage can be played completely. If string crossings with double stops, open strings can be isolated to practice this type of bow work.

Other things that may need to be practiced in order to perfect this piece may include shifting between some of the larger leaps in the piece, especially in the introduction.


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