February 7, 2012 – Souvenir de Sarasate by Potstock

Souvenir de Sarasate is a vibrant piece for the advanced player. A firm foundation in chords in various positions is necessary in order for the student to have execute this work well. Techniques used in the piece include:

  • Double stop passages moving through first, second and third position
  • Left hand pizzicato
  • Harmonics
  • Off the string strokes
  • Fast arpeggios and triplets

The opening of the piece runs through arpeggios and neighboring triplets, this section, once mastered, will be repeated through the piece.

The first double stop passage that begins in m. 4 should be played with a spiccato stroke. Initially, moving pitches should be practiced without the open string drone. The last three chords use fingered notes on two strings and cross string, so they may require special attention. Spiccato stroke should be practiced in double stops without the use of the left hand to make sure timing of double stops and string crossings are in place with the proper articulation.

In m. 10, the first left hand pizzicato section is introduced. If the student has previous experience with left hand pizzicato, this one will not prove to be as difficult although it does shift. Pitches may be practiced with the bow (without use of pizzicato). If intonation is correct, the player should add the left hand pizzicato. At the end of this passage, the bow needs to move to the tip to prepare for the next entrance.

A new double section begins at m. 17. This one includes also gets more difficult as it progresses. The last two chords should be practiced and placed carefully. The first finger can be played across the two strings on the last three double stops. This passage should be practiced similarly to the other double stop passage. It ends with an arpeggio and two harmonics. The player should use a fast bow for these harmonics.

At m. 19, a new theme is introduced. It uses double stops that go between first, second, and third positions. Some will use portamento. This is possibly the hardest to tune section of the work. As the player shifts, consideration for finger spacing should be made. Proper placement of half steps will ensure correct notes and tuning.

The minor theme at m. 35 (key change) has moves between positions and has excellent opportunities to explore expressive shifting.

The most difficult left hand pizzicato section in the piece is at m. 43. This section can be performed without the left hand pizzicato if necessary, however, with some work, it should be able to be performed. The bow hand should practice the some what syncopated rhythm without the left hand. The tempo should slow in this section, also.  The dynamic contrast in this section may also pose a problem during practice.

Another spot for double stop portamento occurs in m. 50. This measure should be examined carefully to make sure the player is using the proper spacing between the fingers across the strings on each double stop. The thirds in m. 48 may also pose a challenge for players inexperienced with shifting through thirds. The finger spacing on these must also be calculated.

In m. 74, the short coda that includes some left hand pizzicato should be practiced as a preview.




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