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Elke Meier
This discussion includes members-only video content

I don't think there is a point in waiting any longer to post this. And this afternoon I had the house to myself so I decided to take the opportunity. 

I have worked on this for a VERY long time - but such happens when you choose something that is over your head... Well, to be honest, I HAVE practiced it for months, but during those months I really did not have much opportunity for violin practice so the length of time does not really tell much about the difficulty of the piece... Actually, it is rather easy, it is just the double stop sections that are a REAL challenge. In the beginning I did not think I would be able to make my fingers do those contortions at all. The only reason I kept at it was that I thought that for the guitar I always changed several fingers at the same time - so it SHOULD also work for the violin, shouldn't it? And the amazing thing is: What I never would have thought possible in the first few weeks of practice actually happened: I can get through them now and even in the right time - and more often than not with reasonable intonation. But I am not sure that I will be able in the near future to become really secure in them. I'll try again in a year or so... 

I did several recordings, and in the end I decided to take one where this double stop section does not really sound very much in tune, but I like the phrasing in this recording better. So you get 2min of nice phrasing with 15sec of bad intonation in the double stops rather than the other way round :). 

I really, really love this piece and look forward very much to starting in earnest now on the second movement. That will be a challenge from beginning to end for my sluggish fingers!
Elke Meier
16 Responses
Posted: May 9, 2018
Last Comment: May 14, 2018

Posted: May 14, 2018

Thank you so much for sharing this Elke!

This such a beautiful piece and you played it so well. I really liked you phrasing and your tone. I think you have progreessed so much since I last heard you play.

Posted: May 12, 2018
Hey Elke,
I’m also a ‘Poyard-fan’!
I played this piece with my teacher and yes the double stops aren’t easy but with a lot of exercise... 
The phrasing... my focus for the moment!
I really love pieces like this, actually I’m nearly ‘obsessed’ with the scordatura pieces of Biber... amazing!
I really liked your performance and I think that you are progressing very well! I learned a lot by studying and analysing JB Poyard, phrasing, expression, use of the bow, ...
‘To listen’ is so important...
Very, very nice playing!

Christopher Sinkule
Posted: May 12, 2018
Good to see you posting again Elke, I always look forward to it! Great job :)

Mary Freeman
Posted: May 11, 2018
Woo Hoo Elke
You have such an amazing technique
Your attention to details has really paid off

Elke Meier
Posted: May 11, 2018
Robyn, I have been longingly thinking back to this time last year - I was just packing my suitcase, still trying to get ready for the workshop and get the Canon to an acceptable speed :). Such wonderful memories! It was one of the most memorable vacations I had!

And Sonia: yes, I rather laugh at my mistakes. If I cried about them I would run out of tears constantly... And sometimes it is just comical: Here I am inwardly anticipating this beautiful sound and instead my fingers decide to give me something so completely opposite, it is just unbelievable. - Such is life... :)

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: May 11, 2018
Thanks Elke,
I loved hearing your retakes! It’s encouraging to know we all face the same issues. Too often I won’t post a video unless it’s as near to “perfect” as I can make it. I loved the fact you laughed at your mistakes :)


Robyn Stirling
Posted: May 11, 2018
Elke this is so beautiful, it takes brings back so many memories from last year as well as listening to your wonderful playing :)

Lee Gordon Seebach
Posted: May 11, 2018
Nice, Elke...I hope to get up to your level one of these days.  "Training makes perfect" is my motto.  Looks like you've done a lot of training!  Thanks for posting your videos.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: May 11, 2018
Ha!, Elke, Im received to see you didn't play those perfect intervals perfectly every time. :). You know, you say your fingers don't move quickly, but I disagree. They are moving very quickly when grabbing those double stops in the tritone double stop passage.

Posted: May 10, 2018
Very nice, Elke! Your sound is just beautiful on this piece.

Kim Thomas
Posted: May 10, 2018
This was so great! :)

Your sound was nice and consistent through out!
and nice straight bows!

Double stops are my difficulty too.  Its so hard to get the interval right and play both strings at the same time!

this was awesome! Great to see a video from you!

Elke Meier
Posted: May 10, 2018
This discussion includes members-only video content

Wow, thank you for your kind comments! You do seem to listen to my playing a little less critically than I do... 

A note to Barbara: Actually, I do like this version, I was just not happy with the double stop section. When I made the recording I thought I should also have a B-roll of all the not-so-good versions... So I have decided to make another short clip now from some of the other recordings :). It will start with a few seconds from one recording where I thought the double stops were a lot more as they should be (unfortunately the rest of the piece was messed up in that version). They still don't FEEL easy, but at least in the recording they seem amazingly easy. When I saw it I was really surprised how something can look so different from what it feels in the hand. I don't normally tense up in my left hand fingers, but I sure do every time I play this section. There are also a couple of samples in the clip of how it can be worse... 

And a note for Beth: You had me laugh out loud about the perfect ending... So I have included some other samples for you to cringe over :)

You mentioned the first note being too short. That is because I anticipate with some dread the second note. Apart from the crazy double stop section the second note and the last three notes are the most difficult part for me. In one of the last videos of the new practice series you mentioned that the tone should speak instantly and clear. That made me realize that my second note normally has an extra sound. I have a VERY hard time to get the second note to speak clearly. I wondered whether it was that the left hand was too sluggish. But I don't think that is the case. It seems to be a right hand problem. Somehow I seem to touch the bow while I am changing bow direction.  Check from about 1min of this second clip. I have included a typical beginning of many of the recordings... The same problem appears in other places in the piece also, but it just glares you in the face on the second note. 

And yes, I certainly did work with the bow line here! I did not go through all the practice steps in order because when you started the track I was already too far into the piece for it to make sense to go back to zero. But the bow line for me makes such a HUGE difference that I am adding it to whatever I play! It was only when I worked on the bow line and had written out the bow rhythm that I realized some rhythmic mistakes I had introduced in a lot of spots (quarter-eight versus dotted-eight-dotted-eigths rhythm for a down-up-movement). It just makes practicing challenging spots so much easier if the bow line is already there. I have always marked all the bows in a piece, but this is even different. In terms of bowing I feel really secure in this now. The second movement I will do following all the practice steps. 

I just love these Fantasies and often listen to them. There are some nice recordings out there, but my absolute favorite is by Jean-Baptiste Poyard. Some of the others I have heard just sound too heavy (like Arthur Grumiaux), or rushed and too dramatic with lots of vibrato (like Peter Sheppard Skaerved), or too sleepy to my liking (like Andrew Manze although I have to say he comes second after Poyard). But Jean-Baptiste Poyard captures and portrays just perfectly what I perceive as the soul of this piece.

Assumpció Segura
Posted: May 10, 2018
Congratulations Elke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Your sound is very beautiful!
I like very much!
You have worked this piece very well !!!

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: May 10, 2018
Well done Elke. It’s lovely to hear someone else play these. They are not easy, being set for grade 7 AMEB exam. I’m glad I have a few more months to prepare.

Looking forwards to hearing the other pieces.


Barbara Habel
Posted: May 10, 2018
Dear Elke

That was a real pleasure to listen to. And just like Beth I think you are doing incredibly well.

Just one thought. You tend to roll up your 4th finger below the fingerboard when it is not needed some of the time. This could be a sign of tension.

If this sounds so excellent and you are not happy with it - what will it sound like when you are happy with your playing? :-)

Beth Blackerby
Posted: May 9, 2018
Oh My Goodness!!! I can't believe how good that was! Did you practice with the bow line? I must know. Your string crossings were so natural, coordinated, smooth, and without tension. I hope you are giving yourself more credit. It is harder than you think it is. The intonation is difficult because of the "contortions" as you mentioned. I also can't believe you got the last chord, consisting of 2 perfect intervals in tune! I'm not sure on any given day that I can do that.  I'm so impressed Elke, this should become a part of your permanent repertoire. I'm getting ready to do a video on creating a life-long permanent repertoire collection. This one should be on yours. That was really stunning.

My only suggestions, would be to: 
1.  Use more bow on the pick up note  
2.  use 4th finger on the Ds in m. 5, 
3.  play fingering: 1-1, 2 on the B, A#, B in m. 8 (to avoid hearing so much slide)
4. same goes for m. 9 with the analogous fingering. Then recover with space after the 2nd finger F#  to life the finger for the C# not he A string.