The etudes of Palaschko are great additions to the violist's repertoire. The 24 Études Mélodiques, op. 77 by Johannes Palaschko are beautiful works -- like Chopin for viola! He uses a lot of borrowed harmony, typical of the period, yet with a real genius for spinning interesting melodic lines. The implied harmony is full of augmented 6th chords, Neapolitan 6th chords, and secondary dominants. He also uses many chromatic alterations, including frequent use of diminished and augmented intervals. His works make wonderful intonation studies for the advancing violist, and they are very satisfying to learn and play. Another compositional technique he likes to employ is melodic variation, most commonly by changing one or two notes when he returns to the opening material. This makes these very useful for the violist who wants to work on his/her sight reading skills; these are also useful for the teacher who wants to be sure his/her students are reading what is on the page.
Palaschko was well-trained, both as a violinist/violist with Joseph Joachim (in whose class he was taken as a 14-year-old), and as a composer, studying with Ernst Eduard Taubert and Heinrich von Herzogenberg. While a student at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, he was twice given the Mendelssohn prize, in 1898 and 1899.
Notes on Op. 77: These etudes use a highly chromatic language throughout, yet clearly one from the Romantic era. Concerning the individual etudes:
1. Andante moderato e cantando. C minor. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range ppp to f.
Requires frequent shifting in the first 4 positions. Lyrical and melancholy in character. Most notes slurred.
2. Poco allegretto. A minor. 3/4. Dynamic range ppp to ff.
Requires frequent shifting in the first 3 positions, including half position, with octave harmonics on A and D strings. Lyrical, with mostly slurred 8th notes. Improvisatory in character. Lots of string crossings.
3. Allegramente. A major. 2/4. Dynamic range p to f.
Spiccato 16th notes until the last 3 measures. Requires much fluid shifting/reaching through adjacent positions. 1-1 is frequent. Mostly 1st to 3rd position with one passage at the end that goes to 6th position. Ends with a plagal cadence: ii7 I.
4. Andante serioso. G minor. 2/4. Dynamic range pp to ff.
Stern character is created through the use of slurred dotted 16th and 32nd note figures in the opening section. The middle section features 16th note triplets. Uses 1st through 5th position with frequent 1/2 step reaches out of position. Ends with a pizzicato triple-stop with open G and a 1-4 octave on Gs in 3rd position.
5. Allegretto animato. C major. 3/4. Dynamic range ppp to f.
Breezy, happy-go-lucky character. Mostly 16th notes slurred by the measure with lots of string crossings in the first 3 positions with some octave harmonics.
6. Rondoletto. Allegretto. E minor. 2/4. Dynamic range ppp to f.
Impish character created with the frequent use of single and double grace notes along with much syncopation (8th, 4ter, 8th). Mixed bowings. Uses the first 5 positions with one shift to the high E harmonic on the A string in the penultimate measure.
7. Veloce e leggiero. E major. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range ppp to f.
Velocity study featuring 16th notes slurred by the measure throughout with lots of quick string crossings. Lots of double-sharps. Extended passage in 1/2 position toward the end with use of the first 5 positions. Some use of extended 4 in 1st position.
8. Giga. Allegro giusto. A minor. Middle section in A major. 6/8. Dynamic range pp to f.
The opening minor section has a serious character, whereas the middle section is marked soave. This etude features mixed bowings with lots of string crossings and frequent shifts between adjacent positions. 1st to 4th positions are used with two notes in 6th position.
9. Scherzino. Allegro moderato. Bb major. 2/4. Dynamic range pp to ff.
This etude features 3 distinct characters: the first has a five-note figure that is declamatory in character; the second is pizzicato, usually marked f e marcato; the third is a slurred 16th-note figure which has a wind-swept character with highly chromatic passagework. Uses 1st to 3rd position.
10. Larghetto con moto. G minor. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range pp to f.
Mixed rhythms -- dotted 8th/16th, triplet 8ths and 4ter/8th triplets call for rhythmic precision. Lots of shifts to 5th position. Uses 1st to 5th position.
11. Allegro brillante. A major. 3/4. Dynamic range pp to ff.
Chromatic scale etude with lots of melodic material thrown in with dotted rhythms. This etude gives the violist the opportunity to practice different types of chromatic fingering: sliding and/or shifting. Uses the first 4 positions.
12. Allegro moderato. F major. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range pp to f.
This capricious etude features up-bow staccato with a generous dose of double- and triple-stops in the second half. Mostly 1st to 3rd position with a scale at the end to 6th.
13. Allegramente. A minor. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range p to f.
Double-stop etude. Finger-scrambler in the first 4 positions. Played staccato au talon.
14. Allegretto grazioso. E minor. 6/8. Dynamic range ppp to f.
This etude requires smooth string crossings and shifting in slurred 16th notes in arpeggios with added notes. Mostly 1st to 5th position with a few notes in 6th and a high E harmonic on the A string at the end.
15. Moderato e molto deliberato. A minor. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range pp to ff.
This etude alternates between a loud, angular section with lots of dotted rhythms and a softer section with lots of slurred triplets and duplets which create a quasi improvisatory character.
16. Con vivacità. D minor. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range p to f.
This etude features staccato 8th notes au talon, with arpeggiated passages, often over 3 or 4 strings. Since he also writes leggiero, a brushy off the string stroke seems indicated. This etude could also be played martelé in the 3rd quarter of the bow. Uses positions 1 to 3 with reaches for octave harmonics, extended 4th finger and several places where 1/2 position is used.
17. Minuet. Moderato. Ab major. Middle section F minor. 3/4. Dynamic range pp to f.
Although it is called "Minuet" the A section has more the character of a waltz with lots of slurred 8th notes. He even puts tenuto markings with the staccati, indicating they should not be very short. The B section has a completely different character, no slurs, with lots of double- and triple-stops and brushy staccato 8th notes. 1st to 5th positions used.
18. Largo con dolore. Eb minor. 2/4. Dynamic range ppp to f.
Doleful Eb minor etude. Lots of expressive shifting. Uses 1st to 5th position with an extension to a high Cb on the A string.
19. Allegretto e piacevole. A major. 2/4. Dynamic range pp to ff.
The opening section in slurred 16th notes has a light, lilting character. The contrasting section has lots of 3- and 4-note chords played down-bow. Use of positions 1 to 5, with some use of 1/2 position, including 1/2 position chords.
20. Alla mazurka. Allegro giusto. A minor. Middle section A major. Dynamic range p to f.
The A section has the regal character of a mazurka with lots of dotted rhythms. The middle section, in A major, contrasts well with lots of slurred triplets, often slurring across the barline. This etude uses 1st to 5th positions.
21. Allegro ma non troppo e con spirito. F minor. 6/8. Dynamic range ppp to ff.
This etude features spiccato 16th notes, opening with two big chromatic scales before the main theme appears. This etude is quite suspenseful -- something interesting is going to happen. 1st to 6th position.
22. Grave e sostenuto. G minor. 4/4 (C). Dynamic range f to ff (with diminuendi).
This etude features chords and running passages leading up to them. There is an intense short section in the middle in dotted rhythms. This etude is about sustaining a full tone throughout. Uses 1st to 3rd position.
23. In Spanischer Weise. Allegretto con grazia. Dynamic range pp to f.
This etude begins and ends with pizzicato double-stops in 8th notes. The middle section is melodic with a touch of the exotic. Uses 1st to 5th position, including 5th position passages on the D and G strings.
24. Humoresque. Moderato. G minor. 2/4. Dynamic range ppp to ff.
This entertaining etude is a wonderful way for Palaschko to end this collection. It's full of surprises: grace notes, snappy double-dotted rhythms, accents, trills, harmonics (more than just the octave), slides to harmonics, grand pauses, striking contrasts, it's got everything to sound bizarre. Uses 1st to 5th position with lots of quick shifts.