Eight pitches, Ten possible fingerings

Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor for two cellos is one of the works for Concerto Workshop this year. I have been looking at it with fresh eyes. In the first movement, both solo parts begin with the same two measures. From a logical fingering perspective, what are the possibilities for the third and fourth beats in each of those measures?

One of the common choices is to begin on B flat with first finger, extend to C using second finger, play the D with fourth finger, and then shift to second position and play the E flat with fourth finger. Then in the following measure, begin in third position on the D with a first finger, use second finger for the E flat, play the F with the fourth finger, and then shift to fourth position for the G using a fourth finger. This is the fingering that I learned the first time I did the piece. It is popular because the first shift is very accessible, putting the slide between the half step. The second measure fingering is parallel and easy to remember. It also ends in fourth position which is a very secure position for many young cellists.

Alternatively, one could do the shifts using first and third position in the first measure (1X2 -1 2) and then third and fourth position in the second measure (1 2 -2 4). Currently, this is my new favorite. I like the security in third position and it seems unified to continue using third position in the following measure.

To open the door of choices, how many other options are available? A third possibility is to put the shift between the first two notes in both cases. Thus, the first measure  would use first and second position (1 – 1 3 4). While the second measure would begin in third position and then shift a half step (1 – 1 X2 4). An argument for using this fingering would be the first finger is a very strong finger.

A fourth thought would be to begin in half position and shift to second position (1 3 – 3 4). In the following measure, use second position and then shift to fourth position (2 3 – 2 4). Not as comfortable as you would like?

Try beginning in first position with extension and then shifting to second position in the first measure (1 X2 – 2 3). In the following measure, use third position and then shift to fourth position (1 2 – 2 4).

Ready to break the door open to more outrageous ideas? Suppose both four note passages were executed with one finger per note. The first one would look like (1 X2 3 4). In my case, it is not comfortable to do the same pattern on the second one. The closest choice I liked was start in third position and then move to fourth position (1 2 4 – 4).

What if part of the first measure was done on the d string? It might look like fourth position (2 4) to third position on the a string (1 2). The second measure then could be third position to fourth position (1 2 – 24).

Do you like the way it sounds on the d string?  Perhaps this is your cup of tea. Start in fourth position (2 4) and then shift (2 3). In the following measure, begin with one on D (1 2) and then shift again (2 3). Would I use it in performance? Doubtful, but the purpose of the exercise is to explore lots of options.

So I’ve found eight choices so far. Let’s make it ten. Try beginning in first position and shifting to second position (1 2 4 – 4). Then play the first two beats of the second measure in second position, continue with our notes in question (3 4) and shift to fourth position (2 4).

Option ten, half position to third position (1 3 – 1 2) in the first measure. Third position to fifth position in the second measure (1 2 – 1 3).

So which is the best? It depends!

What do you like the best?

About miriamtroxler

Miriam Troxler resides in Beaver, Pa, where she runs a private music studio. After graduation from Chatham University, she toured in Europe with the Continental Singers Orchestra as principal cellist. A long time member of Greenville Symphony Orchestra, she is also the founder and musical director of CelloBrationS. Miriam enjoys composing and arranging with several published pieces to date.
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