The Etude
Name the Composer . Etude Magazine Covers . Etude Magazine Ads & Images . Selected Etude Magazine Stories . About . Donate .

The Rode Studies (Continued).

The unreliability of tempo marks is clearly proven by the tempo in­dicated for the fifth Caprice in the Vieuxtemps edition. Rode desired that this Caprice be played in a moderate tempo; but even though he had failed to give the player the slightest hint of his wishes, the character of the com­position would unfailingly suggest to the player that a moderate tempo was desired by the composer. Yet we find the fifth Caprice marked M.M. 104 quar­ters. The pupil can easily convince himself that 104 beats to the minute constitutes a tempo wholly inap­propriate for this Caprice. I have no metronome at hand to aid me, but I would suggest M.M. 84 quarters as a reasonable tempo.

The broken measure, at the beginning, should be played with a supple wrist at the heel of the bow. (In following this analysis my readers must not make the mistake of regarding this up-beat as the first measure. The first measure proper begins on the D.) The whole bow should be employed for the eighth notes in the first measure, which will carry the player to the point of the bow for the group of sixteenth notes. The latter, as also the triplets and sextoles in which this Caprice abounds, should be played legato; and only such notes as are marked staccato should be sharply detached. The staccato dot on the second quarter of the third measure in my edition is a mistake. The quarters in the 3d, 4th, and 5th meas­ures are all to be played legato. The crescendo- diminuendo which characterizes the 8th and 9th measures is generally misunderstood. It is not pos­sible, of course, actually to increase and diminish the tone on such a sixteenth note; but something resembling this effect may be produced by means of a slight tenuto and such variation of tone as is pos­sible under the circumstances. And this is doubt­less the effect which Rode had in mind.

It is obviously impossible to remain at the point of the bow in the 14th measure, for the second quar­ter demands a long, broad stroke. The average player finds himself in a predicament, and fails to under­stand that a simple manipulation of the wrist is all that is required to overcome the difficulty. The bow should be quickly raised from the string, and the triplet played at the heel. This is not only the sim­plest means of extricating oneself from such a diffi­culty, but it also admits of fine freedom in bowing throughout the rest of the measure. The 15th meas­ure presents the very same idea, and it occurs a num­ber of times in later measures.

The eighth notes, marked staccato, following the triplets in the 32d, 33d, and 34th measures, must be played with a full, energetic sweep of the bow. The groups of grace-notes, in subsequent measures, are often, and erroneously, played as chords. To carry the bow adroitly over the strings with the requisite speed is a difficulty which only persistent effort will overcome; but under no circumstances should these grace-notes resemble chords.

The groups of slurred notes in the 46th and 47th measures require special attention, inasmuch as the player is apt to give the second slurred note a stac­cato termination. The whole bow should be employed in the 64th and 66th measures.

This Caprice is unquestionably one of the most in­teresting and valuable studies of the entire set. It is especially helpful in everything relating to good bow­ing, but it is also a splendid lesson in style and gen­eral technic.

The Sixth Caprice.

There is little in either the Adagio or the Moderato of this Caprice that calls for special comment out­side the class-room. It may be well, perhaps, here to remind my readers that it is not my purpose to dwell upon all the musical and technical details of these studies. My object is rather to point to such things which the average pupil either overlooks or fails to comprehend.

The pupil will find it greatly to his advantage to count eighths, instead of quarters, in the Adagio. It is the tendency of most players to lag in this introduc­tion—a tendency, in fact, which many young players readily yield to in the playing of slow movements. On the other hand, the groups of thirty-second notes are apt to betray the pupil into a spasmodic style. These figures are more or less difficult for all players, and they require absolute mastery before the pupil can hope to play them with the requisite repose.

The Moderato is not only difficult from a technical standpoint, but also a severe musical tax for most pupils. The accentuations, and expression-marks in general, are very trying to even excellent players; but they must be rigidly observed if the pupil hopes to derive genuine profit from the study of this Caprice. And this warning naturally applies to all of Rode’s studies. The tempo marks in both the Adagio and the Moderato (88 eighths and 138 quarters, respectively) are approximately correct.

The Seventh Caprice.

This study is obviously intended to develop the staccato stroke. It is needless to say, however, that, if the player has not already acquired what may be considered a fair staccato, such a study will hardly prove the means of his doing so.

In the first measure, and all similar ones, the bow must be pushed along rapidly on the third and fourth beats, in order to have the use of the entire bow in the second measure; but the pupil understands, of course, that very little bow should be utilized in the playing of most staccato passages. The employment of the staccato sign, in the 5th measure, is hardly cor­rect, for these notes should be broadly played in ac­cordance with the indicated sostenuto. And this ap­plies also to the 15th measure.

In general, an able performance of this Caprice de­pends largely upon the player’s skilful division of the bow. Time and again it is either necessary or ad­visable to lift the bow from the string and quickly to pass from the point to the heel. This is sometimes not easily accomplished, but oft-repeated effort is the only plan that recommends itself.

(To be continued.)

<< Dreams and Realities.     How to Study. >>

Monthly Archives

The Publisher of The Etude Will Supply Anything In Music