February 6, 2012 – Polish Dance by Severn

Polish Dance by Edmund Severn is an excellent show piece for an experienced player who has some experience with chords and double stops. The student needs to have a firm basis in shifting and intonation before playing a piece of this level. Techniques used in the piece include:

  • Left hand and right hand pizzicato
  • Double stops and chords
  • Harmonics
  • Passages shifting high on the G string

In the introduction, the student should spend time learning how to properly break the chord across the string. On a down bow, you should break the chords before the balance point. On up bows, you should break them after you get a firm start on the lower two strings.

In m. 9, the left hand pizzicato section should be practiced slowly by placing the finger then plucking with each finger. The bow can be practiced separately to make sure there is a proper lift to allow the pizzicato note to speak. Finally, it can be put together and timed very precisely.

In m. 19, the chord should be broken at the balance point, and in the following measure, the player will need to use a lot of bow on the up bow to get back to the lower half of the bow for the double stops that alternate strings. This section can be practiced without the left hand to ensure bow accuracy in string crossing.

In m. 22, there is a sul G section. The player can think of keeping the bow parallel to the floor with a deep tip to get a rich sound in this passage.

In m. 46, there is a shift from first to fourth position. It uses the new finger to shift up. The player does not need to hide this shift (as the passage is already espressivo).

Another spot that may require some attention is m. 59 to 64. This passage contains harmonics and trills. Timing on this seems to be difficult. Getting harmonics to speak may prove to be difficult as well as timing the trills. At the end of this passage, you will go back to the original theme.

In m. 80, there is change in key signature and an introduction of a new theme. The passage is low on the G string and does shift to third position on this string. The marking “doloroso” evokes a painful or mournful feeling for this section.

In m. 106, there is a new theme with new double stops and chords. In m. 109 of this section the player must shift from third position to a new double stop using the same fingers in first position. This allows the player to use portamento to move from one chord to the next. The finger spacing will change from a whole step in third position to a half step in first position. This must be practiced for intonation.

A difficult left hand pizzicato section occurs in m. 122. The player must move back and forth between two seemingly simple chords that will be plucked by the left hand. The pizzicato and chord changes should be played without the bow getting involved until that can be mastered. At that point, the player can add properly timed down bow double stops into the equation. Although this passage seems simple to the eye, it will take quite a bit of time to coordinate.

In m. 157 to 162, the moving line should be practiced by itself as it shifts up and down, the the D string drone can be added.

The final section of the piece includes a few new challenges with a fast arpeggio followed by moving triplets that moves through a chord progression in m. 235. Intonation may be a challenge on this sequence. The frame of the pitches should be practiced without the repeat triplets for tuning. Once the tuning through the chords and shifting is in place, the player should add the repeated notes. At the end, you find a fingered harmonic that can be tricky to find and lace the its preceding grace notes. Movement from the previous chord in third position to the fingered harmonic should be practiced to assist with this move.

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