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Violin Duet No.4, Op. 70 - Jacques Mazas


J, Mazas Violin Duet No. 4 - Full Piece Recording 

J. Mazas Violin Duet No. 4 - Andantino (Excerpt)


Composer: Jacques Mazas (1782-1849)


Mazas was a French composer, violinist, and teacher.  He seems to be known for his violin duets, with the Op. 38 collection being widely available in a few editions of print books.   There's several youtube videos of Op. 38, but none that I found for this Op. 70 collection.

Date: IMSLP lists first publication date as "1838/9 or earlier."  

Original Instrumentation2 violins


  1. Allegro Moderato

  2. Andantino

  3. Allegretto


Why this one:


I really like violin duets and have fond memories of playing several by Pleyel in my violin lessons.  (I did an excerpt video of one a few years ago before LMP had even occurred to me).  I also thought a violin duet might be a good low overhead piece to record, provided I picked one that wasn't too difficult.  I actually started to record a duet by Emanuele Barbella back when I first started this project, but had to abort mission after laying down a few parts.  It was just way too hard for me. 

So this time around I started off looking at the Pleyel duets that I had played before, but I found they all had recordings already.  I went looking through IMSLPs "Scores for 2 violins" and just started poking around.  IMSLP has a ton of violin duets and I wish I could say I had some interesting method for sorting through them, but I kind of just randomly pick entries from composers I've never heard of and take a quick peak. 

I was looking for something relatively short and not too hard.  I found this series of 12 progressive duets.  The first two were so easy they looked boring so I went ahead to No. 4. 



Movement 1 - Allegro Moderato

Key:  D

Time: 4/4  BPM=110

Throughout this movement the melodic lead passes back and forth pretty equally between the violin 1 and 2 parts.

The key changes are pretty subtle here (for me anyway).  Most of the accidentals early on feel like melodic passing tones rather than disruptions of the key center.   There's a brief spot at 1:05-1:14 and a more substantial ones at 1:28-1:51 and 2:26-2:44 that feel more firmly like key changes, but I can't quite tell from the score what they changed to.


Nothing too difficult here.  There's a couple of measures with some tricky 16th note passages but I didn't have any trouble with them.


I ended up re-recording the first 13 measures or so.  When I listened to the recording after I got home from the session I noticed that I repeatedly clicked the pick against the fretboard at the beginning.  It wasn't really noticeable in the booth with the metronome going but it was really obvious without it.  This piece was pretty easy so re-doing it only took about 5 minutes.

Movement 2: Andantino

Key :     F

Time: 6/8   BPM=165 (eighth note)

This movement has a loose ABA structure.  The A section is a gentle flowing melody with harmonics that passes from violin 1 to violin 2 in the first A section.

The B section (0:54-1:24) is a melody based around double stops that also passes between the two instruments.

When the A section returns, it is only taken up by the violin 1 (left).


Had some back and forth with myself about the tempo on this one.  Andantino is a little faster than Andante, which means "walking pace."  As I've mentioned before, I always have a little trouble with tempo on pieces that are in 6/8.  My metronome has Andantino at about 80 BPM, but setting the eighth note to that was obviously WAY too slow, about half the speed I recorded.  Setting the beat to be on then dotted eighth (so two beats a measure with three subdivisions each beat) at Andantino puts the eight note at 240, which, while it sounds okay, felt too fast to my ear.  Just didn't feel like "a little faster than walking pace."  I put the first part of the movement into my Sibelius notation software, which has a midi playback function, and it came out to be about 160 eighth note.  I used that as my guide, only speeding it up slightly from that.

I still have my reservations about the pace.  Some software (like ProTools) has trouble with 6/8 time signatures so I'm not sure I should have trusted Sibelius.  I feel like, intellectually anyway, the tempo for x/8 time signatures should be set to the dotted quarter.  The pace Sibelius chose was dotted quarter at 55, which is way, way slower than Andantino, but still a lot faster than straight eighth beat at 80.  So... shrug?

In the end, to my ear, it doesn't sound off so I guess no harm no foul.   (I really have to figure this out though.  This ambiguity makes me avoid 6/8 and 3/8 pieces).

This movement, like the last, wasn't very difficult. 

Movement 3: Allegretto

Key :     D

Time: 3/4   BPM=105

This movement is a minuet with a loose ABCAD structure.

The opening A section (0:00-0:31 )theme is a stately melody in violin 1 that has some moments that are "America the Beautiful" adjacent.   The first half is pretty standard diatonic (in key) major harmony (I-V-IV-I-V-I-V) but the second (0:15-32) has some contrast, replacing a IV with its relative minor ii and a I with its relative minor vi.   There's also an interesting chord that sounds to me like a A# diminished chord at around 0:26 which has a couple of tones that aren't in the home key of D.

When the A section returns, it is only taken up by the violin 1 (left).

Section B (0:31-1:21) is a back and forth between the violin 1 and 2 centered in the first half around the relative minor (Bm) and in the second half around the V chord (A).  That odd A# diminished chord shows up a few more times in the first half.  The end of the B section (1:10-1:21) has a sort of dramatic modulation leading in to the brief C section with non-diatonic F and A diminished chords popping up.

In the C section (1:21-1:31) the harmony does some more interesting things, with more non-diatonic chords (Gm and Adim) popping up.  The mood of that section is a pretty big departure from the rest of the movment, but It's so brief that it feels like a passing experiment before the movement returns to the A section in the home key of D.

The final A section is a little truncated before segue-waying into a little finale.


This went pretty easily as neither the violin 1 or violin 2 were all that difficult.

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