The Sixth Variation, like so
much of Brahms, is about sound quality,
pitch, and character.
The challenge is to give a singing sound
quality that still has strength,
and power, and weight.
This is a very weighty variation.
So you start by choosing your fingerings
with care but
also deciding just how you want those
sixteenth notes to come out.
Since you'll be staying primarily in
the lower part of the bow,
you can take it off the string a little
bit while still
keeping some good weight and some good
The thing is that it has to be consistent.
All the sixteenth notes you play have to
have that same articulation.
Where you get into trouble is where you,
when you start mixing it up,
mixing the articulations, then some parts
have less power than others.
Let's talk about fingerings a little bit.
It's a no-brainer to start in fifth
position, cuz then you can just reach up.
And now you have a guide finger.
So I crossover back
down to the octave B flat and
then shift back to third position.
To get up to the high C, there's no one
I shift up a fifth on the second finger.
Finish to four.
To get up to the B
flat, I just reach up
with the fourth finger.
That's a pretty standard arpeggio
if you're used to doing that reach
The dots that you see again, it's up to
you if you want to make
a difference between the ones that have
dots, the ones that don't.
I tend to play all these sixteenths, as I
said, with a consistent articulation.
All of them heavy, but slightly off the
string and articulated.
I don't make a special exception for these
dots in this variation.