I mentioned starting Ambroise Thomas’ Gavotte from Mignon a couple of weeks ago- I started in the middle of the piece with two lines that Teacher thinks are tricky. And they are indeed tricky – I worked with them for a week and realized the critical element in those two lines is being in tune with B and B flat on the A string – the notes alternate in the music frequently, and when it’s not in tune it sounds terrible. Nailing that B has been a challenge for me since day one on the violin, more or less. Getting the B perfect is crucial to making the Brahms Waltz come out well too; I’ve been around this “B” block before, in other words.
But not really. This Gavotte is definitely a level-up song, the hardest I’ve encountered to date in my playing. Though I’ve been listening to the recording like a good Suzuki kid, the intervals, the preponderance of accidentals, the slurs, the 32nd notes-a-plenty, the aforementioned B/flat alternating – it’s a challenge a minute. And then, just for good measure, the piece ends with plucking and a strum, which I have yet to even attempt. Just like my other Gavotte, this one is a challenging piece that will take me a good while to make sound decent, even by my lowly beginner standards.
In Wednesday’s lesson, we went back to the top, and we’ll now go straight through to the end. I don’t know how long it will take for us to get through – maybe two more lessons. It’s the longest work, in measures, that I’ve encountered to date, though with the repeats my old friend the Gossec Gavotte probably takes longer to play through. In the lesson we worked on the two lines I started with in the previous lesson, but we didn’t quite make it to them when we attacked the piece from the top. If my practice goes well this week I might try on my own to bridge the gap from where we got to where I’ve been. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play yesterday, so that’s not a particularly auspicious start to the practice week.
More on the origin of Gavotte from Mignon soon – it’s from a comic opera that Wikipedia reports was particularly popular – between 1866 and 1919 the opera was performed over 1500 times at Paris’ Opera Comique.
Thanks for reading.