Franck... on viola?!

When I was a child, probably 10 or 11, my parents took me to a violin recital played by Ukrainian-born, Russian-trained violinist Alexandre Brussilovsky. I distinctly remember his performance of the Franck Sonata for Violin and Piano, because I was so entranced by the music and the ease with which his musical ideas spoke to me... Or perhaps I just thought he played really prettily (I was only a kid, after all!). My parents bought the CD he was setting at the concert, which included the Franck. 


To this day, it is my absolute favorite recording of the piece. You can get a preview here. Looking for the digital version just now, as soon as I saw the cover, so very many memories flooded back. I DEVOURED the recording, listening to it over and over and over. I don't know what exactly it is about the Franck Sonata, but I love it, pure and simple. It is the music of my heart.

So you might imagine that I feel a certain sadness that I now exclusively perform on an instrument for which this piece was not written. I must admit, if there's one thing I miss about playing violin, it is the Franck Sonata.

few blog posts ago, I mentioned that one night in Uberlandia, I accompanied Annie Chalex Boyle and Cristina Capparelli to a rehearsal during which they were rehearsing the Franck Sonata, among other works. The third movement brought tears to my eyes (as it usually does), and I felt incredibly special, sitting there listening to two such artists collaborate on a piece I love so much.

I mentioned to Daphne how much I love the Franck, and she told me about a recent recording by Tabea Zimmermann. Immediately I bought it: Franck... on viola?! And it works; it really really works.

I was inspired. I mean, if Tabea can do it, why can't I? :) So I ordered the viola transcription sheet music, and started looking for a pianist. Turns out fate was on my side, because Cristina Capparelli is going to be doing a residency at Indiana University next semester... and she agreed to come to Muncie to perform Franck with me for my April recital!! Oh my! I am so excited about collaborating with her on this music that I love so intensely, and that she could probably play blindfolded. She know the music (and it is NOT an easy piano part).

Once back in Indiana, the music finally arrived, and I started reading through it... But it was all wrong. Basically the entire part is simply transposed down an octave, and it just doesn't work. The colors are all wrong, and I was so very disappointed. So I went back to Tabea's recording and realized that she does most of the piece in the same register as the violin. There are a few parts she takes down the octave, but the first and third movements are completely unchanged, with only a few spots in the second and fourth taken down the octave. So what did I do? I made my own edition. Some photocopying and cutting and taping, and voila!, my very own Franck edition!

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It has been a real pleasure working on this music I so desperately love. It sounds GOOD on viola, it really does, even though I don't have an E string. And yes, there are some big and difficult shifts (second to last line in the photo above, for example-- that's HIGH on the A string!), but the quality of the music is not lost with the few octave changes. It's so much fun. I've simply been having a blast practicing this music, and I cannot wait to rehearse and perform with Cristina in April. Fun fun fun! And so very satisfying. :)

Happy practicing indeed!

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