Anne Penesco

Quattro secoli di variazioni lessicali sul virtuosismo violinistico (1600-2000)

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Although Italian words make up the universal language of violin technique, violin terminology implies countless ambiguities. The concepts of vibrato, "singhiozzo" (sob), "fremiti" (quivers) and "palpitazioni" (palpitations) do indeed deserve a special, technical-literary study. The most difficult part of violin technique is without a doubt mastering the right arm: the bow and relative technique inspire eloquent words and metaphors: "bastone del comando" (command stick) or "scettro" (sceptre) for the bow; "ondeggiamento" (ondulation), "bariolage" e "serpenté" for the bow movements, or the comparison between the bow and a billiard cue. On the other hand, there exists great inventiveness in the pejorative vocabulary. The surnames of Paganini and Stradivari are used "per excellence" to express admiration. Picturesque descriptions persist in technical analysis: "volate vertiginose" ('dizzy flights', in Bonaventura), "salto pericoloso" ('dangerous jump', in Galeazzi), "razzi" and "cascate" ("rockets" and "waterfalls", in Woldemar), together with a sports vocabulary: "arrampicarsi" ("climbing", in Corrette), "ballerino di corda" ("string dancer", in Sofia Gubaidulina). The devil is very present: "Trillo del diavolo" ("devil's trill", in Tartini), "scale e arpeggi del diavolo" ("devil's scales and arpeggios ", in Woldemar). The lexicon of sonority is one of the widest: a violin "dalla voce d'oro" ("golden-voiced", in Persyn), or "vino stagionato" ("seasoned wine", in Capet).

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