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Air No.1 with Variations - Josephus Fodor

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J. Fodor - Air No.1 (Excerpt)

J. Fodor - Air No.1 with Variations - Full Piece Recording 

Composer: Josephus Fodor (1751-1828)

 

Fodor was a dutch composer born in Venlo, Netherlands.  He lived in Paris for a while before moving to St. Petersburg in 1792 to work at the court until his death in 1828.

Date: Published in 1776 (per IMSLP)

Original Instrumentation: Violin, cello

 

Why this one:

I found this right at the beginning of the Lazarus Music Project.  It was my backup plan if I decided I wasn't able to play Fodor's String Quartet No.1, Op.11.  I recently stumbled onto it when sorting through my classical music binders and decided to do it.  I thought it would be fun to go back to the composer that kicked off this whole project.  

Description:  

Key:  F

Time: 2/4  BPM=85

 

This is a theme and variations piece, marked Andantino.  The theme can be roughly divided into two macro parts: a 16 measure A section and a 20 measure B section.  The B section is split into two parts that I'll call b and b' of 8 and 12 bars, respectively. The theme is followed by 4 variations on this Abb' pattern.  (The opening theme repeats the b' section, but the variations do not.)

 

The theme is pretty simple though the b' section introduces some harmonic tension.  Except for variation 3, the melody is in the violin 1 with the cello definitively in support. 

 

Variation 1 introduces violin triplet arpeggios in its A section.  Section b is straight eighth notes sketching out what seems like diminished chords before transitioning back to a more "standard" harmony in section b'.

 

Variation 2 introduces sixteenth notes in the violin. starting in the home key of F before modulating to C.  The b section, again, has some harmonic tension.

 

Variation 3 uses a mix of sixteenth notes, straight eighths, and triplet arpeggios following the same general pattern as variation 2.

 

In variation 4, the cello plays the opening theme while the violin supports with double stops.

Performance:

This was LMP express; I did the cello part and violin part in the same recording session.  The cello part was rather easy.  The 4th variation is in treble clef so it took me a while to work out as I don't read that on the mandocello very well, but it wasn't actually hard to play.

 

The violin part was rather difficult once the variations start. I had a fairly good playing day, but I was having intonation problems with my mandolin that made variation 4 take forever and be kind of a soul crushing experience.  (I probably need to take my mandolin in to a luthier to get adjusted).

 

Variation 3 was easily the hardest part of the entire piece, both in the actual performance and just working out the best way to play it.  There's lots of left hand position shifting and the triplet arpeggios in particular had some really tricky fingering.  Basically the entire variation was very difficult to prepare and play.

Errata:

As written the variations repeat the A and B sections, having the overall structure of AABB, but I elected not to play the repeats.  

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