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A. Bruni Duet No.6, Op.2 - Rondo (Excerpt)

A. Bruni Duet No.6, Op.2 - Full Piece Recording 

Composer: Antonio Bruni  (1757-1821)

Bruni was an Italian composer who lived most of his life in Paris.  He was there during the French Revolution and created an inventory of all the musical instruments taken from the people condemned to death in the Terror.  Yikes.

I wonder if he knew Jean-Baptiste Rey?

Date: ?  The score has a handwritten date of 1841, twenty years after Bruni's death. I don't know if that year is the first publishing or a re-print, but it doesn't give any insight into when the piece was actually composed.

 

Original Instrumentation: Violin, viola

Movements:    

  1. Andantino

  2. Rondo

Why this one:

I realized that, after finishing my sixteenth piece, I still hadn't done a violin and viola duet.  I had worked up two to knock out at once, this one and a duet by Luigi Borghi but then discovered that the Borghi already had an easily available recording I somehow missed.  (Which sucked because i had already used a recording session to lay the viola part down on it; maybe I'll finish it someday.  It won't be a Lazarus Music Project piece, but it is a nice duet and it would be a shame to abandon a half finished recording.)  I had planned on more pieces for this round of LMP than the previous ones, so I wanted one of the violin / viola duets to be fairly short and not too difficult.   This one fit the bill, and I triple checked that there were no recordings of it.   

Description:  

 

Movement 1 - Andantino 

Key: D

Time: 4/4  BPM=85

 

This is kind of an odd movement.  It starts with a viola melody over a driving triplet accompaniment in the violin.  The triplet accompaniment then suddenly stops and the violin plays half note double stops.  The violin then the melody while the viola plays the triplets and then the half notes.   This alternating between the triplets and half notes makes the movement feel like it's constantly stopping and starting.  Also the triplets are played against eight notes and sixteenth notes in the melody giving it a 3 against 2 and 3 against 4 sense occasionally, and gives it some rhythmic complexity.

 

There's very few accidentals and so there's not a strong sense of harmonic variation.  There's like two measures that almost feel like they're pulling to the key of A, but it doesn't quite get there.  Modulating to the V is pretty standard Classical practice, so I am a little surprised that this one seems so static.  

Performance:

This was an LMP express piece.  I prepared both parts simultaneously and didn't enter the score into my notation software to get a sense of what it would sound like.  I recorded them in the same session and only heard what the two parts sounded like together as I was recording.  I didn't have issues with either part, as all told it was pretty straightforward.

Movement 2 - Rondo

Key: D

Time: 6/8  BPM=Eighth 240 (Recorded in 3/4 with BPM = Quarter note 240

 

This movement is a rondo, which is a form where there's a main theme that alternates with a differing part.  This particular rondo has a structure of ABACADA.  

 

The whole movement is in triple meter, so straight triplets and swing quarter note - eighth note rhythms are the main building blocks.  It's lively and bouncy throughout.  There was no tempo indication in the score so I just played what felt right.

 

The viola takes the main A section melody first before passing it to the violin.  The D section is in B minor, the relative minor of the home key of D.

Performance

The viola took me way too long.  Because of the way the Rondo was notated (see Errata, below) and the 6/8 time I got lost a few times. 

 

As I said in the Grell write-up, apparently it's difficult to get ProTools to do a good 6/8 click.  I tend to conceptualize 6/8 time with the pattern like this:

 

1      2    3    4      5    6 

Strong-weak-weak Medium-weak-weak

 

With the 3/4 beat that I recorded with, one measure of 6/8 goes from the above to this:

 

1      2    3    1      2    3 

Strong-weak-weak Strong-weak-weak

 

Using that pattern, with its equal strength downbeats, it's really easy to lose your place and train-wreck if your concentration slips, as it's not obvious whether the downbeat you are hearing is the 1 or the 4.

 

I started over twice and ended up having to re-do entire sections multiple times after getting lost and not being able to recover.  Once when jumping back down from the A section to the D section I somehow skipped about 20 measures and didn't notice until I tried to punch something in and where I thought I was didn't line up to what I actually recorded.

 

When I finally finished, we checked the measure number I actually ended on against what I had counted out in the score.  They were the same, so I thought I was good.  But when I was listening back I realized something extremely wrong had happened.  I don't know how but I was offset by about 3 measures, but somehow still ended with the right number of measures?  I'm guessing it was a compound failure, where I skipped a couple measures by accident but then inadvertently repeated the same number of measures somewhere else and faked myself out through unfortunate coincidence.

 

I had to re-do almost the entire back half.  I made hardly any actual technical (e.g. fretting or picking) mistakes; it was all just "What measure am I playing right now?" type stuff.  Which is good because it would have taken even longer if I also had a bad playing day and had lots of things to correct after I sorted the structure out.  It was a very confused and frustrating experience.  

 

It can be hard to recover after a frustrating session, especially one where you feel like a complete idiot but are otherwise playing well, so I'm glad I got it together and breezed the violin part.  I did it in one take with only a couple of small punch-ins for a few of the grace note pull-offs, which are hard to play on the mandolin.  (If they aren't delivered super confidently and deliberately they sound like mistakes.) 

 

I've now had trouble keeping my place on three of the four X/8 time signature pieces I've done (Grell, Stainkauler, and this). I may need to rethink my approach for these time sigs.

Errata:

 

Rondos tend to be notated in a way that is easier for the copyist but a little confusing at first to a newbie player.  So while it's played ABACADA, it's written as ABCDE, with "dC" or "da Capo" (to the top) notations at the end of the non-A sections telling the player to go back to the beginning and the understanding that at the end of the A section you jump to the next letter in the sequence.  The jumps back to the subsequent sections aren't explicitly notated.  This took me a little while to figure out; it makes perfect sense if you actually know what a rondo is, but when I first encountered it, I... didn't.

 

The jumping back and forth in the score is part of the reason why I kept getting lost when I put the viola part down.  The extra cognitive load of having to jump back and forth while trying to keep the 6/8 measures straight against the 3/4 click was enough to trip me up. 

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