'Kwintus for Solo Violin,' by Christian Lauba (Alphonse Leduc, $23.60)

The fast and the furious for advanced violin players


This is an exciting and challenging piece for advanced solo violin. The contemporary piece, by award-winning French composer Christian Lauba, presents hair-raising passages that require fast technical work from both the right and left hands. With the exception of the brief, subdued introduction, the piece contains rhythms that are equivalent to a 16th note or faster, and at a tempo of quarter equals 120, most of the passages fly by at lightning speeds.

This piece has a grounded, organic, and ever-evolving character that employs both the depths of the instrument (with harsh double-stops), and bright, pointed heights on the upper strings. Many of the sections exhibit an almost kaleidoscopic design, shifting gradually one note at a time, while over a backdrop of consistent rhythmic or harmonic patterns. Chock-full of string crossings, tremolos, pizzicatos, wide-ranging dynamics, tonal effects, and articulations, this piece would challenge even the most experienced violinist.

The fast passages with multiple-stops are great practice for left-hand speed and dexterity, and the rolling string-crossing patterns, along with varied articulations, present a workout for the bowing hand, wrist, and arm.

Detailed notation—including marked fingerings and bowings—and an accompanying audio CD are welcome aids for those who are daring enough to dive into this gritty, intense performance piece.

*This article appeared in Strings December 2010
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