Bazzini’s Calabrese is one of those virtuosic show-stoppers that send audiences to their feet. Besides displaying Menuhin’s warm and flawless tone, the piece exhibits an intimidating list of the violin’s special effects:
1. Spicatto: The bouncing of the bow, done here at tremendous speeds, producing very short, light notes.
2. Glissando: A slide up or down a string using one finger of the left hand.
3. Sul G: Playing only on the lowest string to produce a thick, rich tone.
4. Octaves: Playing a note at two different pitches at the same time — two A’s, for example. This is done usually with the index finger together with the pinky of the left hand, and requires a shift for every new pitch-class.
5. Tenths: Another instance of playing two notes at the same time, or double-stopping. The interval of a tenth is a third wider than an octave, and so requires the index finger and the pinky to stretch.
6. Assorted other multiple stops: There are some fiendish parallel sixths in this piece.
7. Harmonics: When a left-hand finger lightly touches the string at certain points, the player produces a ringing, flute-like sound. Harmonics can be heard in the very first gestures Menuhin plays, on the highest pitches.
At the piano, playing with perfect clarity and subtlety, is Adolph Baller, one of whose students I will be performing with this Sunday evening, February 8th. Laura Aue and I will play Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major at the Orland Evangelical Free Church.