Work: Hora staccato
About This Work
Although he lived a good sixty years -- well past World War II -- Romanian violinist and composer Grigoras Dinicu is today remembered for a single work composed at the tender age of seventeen, just after the turn of the twentieth century. That piece,
one of a handful of musical truffles on virtually every concert violinist's encore list, is the delightful Hora Staccato for violin and piano. And yet the story of this salon miniature is not so simple, as even today the piece remains all but unknown in its original form; Hora Staccato as we know it is actually an arrangement (really a re-composition) of Dinicu's unpublished 1906 original, made by Jascha Heifetz, with the composer's permission, many years later. The combined Dinicu-Heifetz piece is a gem of virtuoso showmanship that, like so many short pieces from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, takes an essentially Classical design and flavors it with the salt and pepper of what Western audiences of the day must surely have felt were decidedly exotic folk music idioms.
Hora Staccato takes its name from the "staccato" (literally "detached") style of bowing that it features so prominently -- specifically a species of staccato known as the "up-bow staccato," in which many clearly articulated notes are play in rapid succession without changing the bow direction.
The opening portion of Hora Staccato, filled with brilliant trills and witty descending staccato scales, is composed in wholly diatonic fashion and gives little hint of the wild, impassioned gypsy outburst of the extended middle section. Here the prototypical Romanian scale is used, with its raised second and fourth scale degrees, and lowered seventh. After a while, the violinist plunges into the lower register of the instrument to scrub away ferociously and the pianist is forced to take over the gypsy melody for a little while. After one more go at the manic mock-improvisation, however, things calm down enough for the far less earthy tune of the opening to pop back up, and a single low E flat from the piano calls an end to the affair.
Hora Staccato has been arranged by various people for all kinds of instruments and ensemble (trumpet, saxophone, percussion, string quartet, etc.), including a frequently played version for violin and orchestra.
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