I have had a bockety practice schedule of late, but I have still noticed significant improvement in my overall feeling of agility due to the Gabrieli Ricercari that have been dominating my time these days. If you’re not familiar with them, they are published by Schott and are available here. Like much proto-Baroque music, they are transparent and care very little about what is convenient or comfortable for the player. This is a surprisingly valuable primer for the tangled left-hand gnarls of Kodaly, Shostakovich and the later Bach Suites, because it presents the technical gauntlet in a series of patterns and motifs that quietly suggest things like, “Perhaps it would be best to just stretch the octave here instead of shift.” and, “Are you quite sure that string crossing is appropriate? And if so, can you make it smoother?”. These pieces were intended to put the cello through its paces. If you are smart in the way you approach them, you’ll end up with a more mobile, simple, and flexible technique. And who wouldn’t want that?