Friday, August 22, 2008

Villa-Lobos Prelude Two repeats the left hand fingerings quite a bit.

Villa-Lobos Prelude No.2

I own the wonderful old Max Eschig Edition published in Paris in 1954. It lists this prelude as being in c minor (en do mineur) but I really think of it as 'mi majeur'. Maybe it's just me... The piece contains a characteristic Villa-Lobos concept -- a trademark, if you will. What is it? A repeating figure wherein the left hand fingering stays unmodified while the left hand slides from position to position forming a melody or melodic device.

Here take a look:



In the first measure after that double bar (the beginning of the 'B' section) we are introduced to the fingering that will remain 'under hand' for the majority of the section. The last seven measures contain a different left hand positioning, but it too stays steady for those seven measures. So, with that all said, why do I consider this piece an exercise (aside form obvious reasons?) And what exactly is the intent of the exercise? Is it to build up strength in the left hand by holding a pseudo-barré? Could be. I think it is a neat right hand workout as well. The thumb must pluck two notes (almost) simultaneously then the fingers have to be in position immediately for the rest of the figure. The open string notes look odd at first, but you will soon ascertain that these odd harmonies stem from the fact that the right hand fingering remains constant throughout the section and, due to the open strings and left hand fingering, they naturally fall where they do. Play through this section slowly and listen, both to the music as well as to your right hand -- how evenly you can make it. Listen also for how cleanly and accurately you can jump around the neck with the left hand. Be especially careful with the whole deal when you transition from measure 36 to measure 37.

As strangely 'unmusical' as this type of harmonic and melodic exchange might be in the hands of another composer, Villa-Lobos pulls it off with a great flair and creates music form what might have been a relatively lame guitaristic concept.

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