Well... I finally completed my first public concert with my new partner in crime (the English violin c1775 pictured above). It's always a bit of an event, as it is the first time that you are really starting to bond with an instrument and seeing how it and you react to a performance situation. With some violins, in a new acoustic or a new setting, it can feel quite alien and suddenly, it feels like it has a completely different sound and response to what you had thought it had in the practice room or the rehearsals.
Thankfully, this violin (and I!) held up very well... it performed as expected, holding a beautiful rich tone in the lower end whilst maintaining a silky high end. I did notice a slight sluggishness in response in the lowest string during the faster passages, but that was something that I had noticed before the concert anyway. Now that this concert is done, I can start messing around with different gauges for the string thicknesses... which will affect the sound and response of the instrument. I had just used what was sold with the violin, as it seemed work okay... but the strings (and thus tension) were thinner than I usually use. A higher tension (thicker strings) generally has the effect of a stronger, richer sound... at the cost of speed of response.... and if you go too far, the sound is choked rather than resonant. Finding the balance is a critical thing, and it is something that is individual to the three way combination of player, bow and violin. In addition, due to the open gut nature of the strings and the wood nature of the violin, it is also something that can change with the seasons with the changing humidity and temperature.
Anyway, the first solo outing was this Violin Sonata (Violin solo, with continuo accompaniment, in this case harpsichord and cello) by Piani, a later Italian Baroque composer. This particular one was a sonata in e minor, the second in from the first Opus (a collection of 12 violin sonatas). It was a pretty great showy piece... with a couple (not too many...) moments of respite... but definitely a fireworks piece... oddly enough, the music director for @musicapoetica seems to think that these sorts of flashy pieces suit me! ... Well, I wouldn't necessarily disagree... I love the fast stuff, the trick is to think slowly and in large chunks!
So, a successful first outing... and hopefully the first of many. I will have to send the violin back to the luthier to complete the agreed upon repairs... and he has suggested some really nice new pegs from boxwood/rosewood to be added as well. I would really love the ones with mother of pearl inlays... but some countries are pretty cranky about that sort of thing... and you face the possibility of having them confiscated at Customs.... definitely not a risk that I'm willing to take!
The sonata formed the instrument interlude between a larger French cantata and singer with clavichord pieces. The theme of the concert was to do with censorship... yes, censorship existed in the 18th centuries.... actually, it was much easier during those times... the people that cry free speech and censorship from first world developed countries aren't really quite in the same basket!
Anyway, this is part of the cantata... which deals with Philosophy... a dialogue between two minds. It is a great piece, but it is really terribly printed (this is a facsimile of the original)... it utilises a block form of printing (where each note was an individual printing block) which I find tricky to read... Singers are used to this, as it is something that has carried forward to modern forms of singing scores... however, instrumentalists are more used to joined notation, which allows me to read multiple groups of notes easily in one sweep.... with block notation, I find it difficult to read large sweeps of notation in one go.
However, more problematic was the fact that the music was just messily printed... with triplet notations not often lining up with the actual notes of the piece... and the difference in rhythms not always being completely clearly printed. Plus, there were many printing errors, which made it difficult to always trust the written part... in fact, we had two different sources for this piece... and it was quite common for them to be quite radically different!
So, in the end, it was tricky to sight read... but once you had the idea in your mind, and some judicious use of a thin felt tip marker to help demystify certain passages... it was okay! French Violin clef though... meh, normally okay for me... but in this concert, I was switching clefs quite a lot... so, there were moments before a piece where I would just be hoping that I was reading the right notation! Luckily (at least in this particular concert...) there were no wrong guesses!
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