Spring 2021 Season - Days/Times Forthcoming

Nation Building with Antonio Pacheco / A bi-weekly look at the state of public architecture in the United States, including interviews, news items, reading suggestions, and historical/theoretical frameworks for understanding public architecture more broadly.

Grounds with Amanda Ugorji / Inter-generational interviews with artists, designers, and planners that ask what existential questions they have been working through lately and how they make their decisions.

Still Standing with Eytan Levi and Ben Hoyle / Interviews with experts about the renovation of Soviet mass housing.

Conversations on Care with Ana MiljaĨki

The Open Practice Room - Ep 04

This week's schedule and motivation is tight, so this week's episode is unedited (no narration). Letting the repetition speak for itself... and I figured no one needs an extra dose of my self-deprecating chatter.

I had some trouble figuring out what to bring this week, since I was getting tired of recording the Mendelssohn. I played around with some Bach the previous day before settling on the Beethoven violin concerto (1st movement), which I had actually spent most of the late half of 2019 working on, so this practice session felt like warming back up to a friend I hadn't spoken to in a few months.

Which is unfair because the Beethoven violin concerto is kind of a pinnacle of the violin repertoire and was something I'd always wanted to work on but never had a chance to, until last year! It's a completely monumental and epic piece, especially with orchestra.

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Hurried marks from Beethoven's manuscript of the concerto... good to know he was a procrastinator just like all of us students today.

Historic trivia about the piece: it wasn't so popular when it was first written, until 13-year-old violinist prodigy Joseph Joachim performed it in London in 1844, with Mendelssohn (yes, the composer of the concerto I've previously been working on!) conducting. Mendelssohn wrote his concerto shortly after that performance!

Illustration of the room in London where the 1844 London performance took place.

Here's an old-school recording by Oistrakh:

If you want to compare to a more modern violinist, Hilary Hahn is quite reliable:

In this practice session I'm just kind of playing through and refreshing my muscle memory on the piece, stopping to go back and repeat passages lightly if they need some work, but nothing really as detailed as last episode's practice session. The piece is essentially really a lot of beautiful scales and arpeggios sketching out some beautiful harmonic progressions, so it was actually just very cathartic to play through the music, even though I'm riding on the coattails of last year's practice labor. (D major is also a ~very~ pleasing key!)

I am also playing the Kreisler cadenza (more on cadenzas here, more on violinist Fritz Kreisler here) near the end of the movement.

Beethoven only wrote this one violin concerto; you can read a little more about it here. One interesting trivia is that it wasn't such a hit at the time, so he created a version for piano... what do you think? On the whole, I think Beethoven's music is much better suited to piano rather than violin - I think that's actually partly why I lost interest in working on this concerto towards the end of last year - but the violin's strength here is in the lyrical passages where it can sustain notes where the piano notes have to decay...

Ironically, I think I spent about the same amount of time putting together this blog post as if I had just narrated over my practice recording... well, I do prefer writing more than talking...

Listen to the episode here

Links to past episodes:
Episode 01: Mendelssohn finale
Episode 02: scales, Dont No. 2, rosin, Mendelssohn finale
Episode 03: Mendelssohn finale (last page + run-through)