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Everything posted by lwl

  1. Pety, I'll point out that to get INTO a professional orchestra, you have to play a movement out of a major concerto plus orchestral excerpts, typically ones chosen to be technically demanding, that need to be played cleanly and accurately. Most major orchestras now recruit globally, and the competition for the limited number of places is incredibly tough. I will argue that any good violinist today is taught the different methods of sound production that are needed to in different types of circumstances. Your sound and the balance of the sound is different depending on whether you're playing a concerto with orchestra, in a quartet, with piano, in an orchestra, etc.
  2. I would say that the quality of the players in a top-notch orchestra (Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, etc.), in general -- not just the principals, are at about the same standard as the second tier of soloists. I think of the second-tier soloists as the ones that do make their livings primarily through solo work, but for whom the vast majority of people have not heard of -- consider how many players are talked about in the Strad's monthly reviews, for instance, that are unfamiliar names even to most enthusiasts. (Especially the ones who have not done any recording.) It's a different sort of life. If you can make one of the top-tier orchestras, you have a significant income, you don't spend a huge amount of time on the road (so you can raise a family in a normal fashion), and more or less guaranteed work for life. I suspect because of this there are plenty of superb players who choose the orchestral life. Performing solo is a skill -- the ability to give a good concert on stage is a whole lot more than just technical chops or musical ability. There's the ability to deal with a conductor and orchestra that you will know for just a few days, the ability to understand how to adjust one's sound to match acoustics, the understanding of how to pace one's output of energy, and the nerve to plow on even when you make mistakes or something else untowards happens. Players who don't do a lot of solo work don't develop these skills to the same degree. (This is also why many soloists seem to decline when they spend a lot of time conducting instead, for instance. I think the same is true for other arts that involve public "performance" of some kind: ballet, theatre, public speaking, etc.) Orchestral players who have the inclination, and can fit it into their schedule, often do some amount of solo work, though usually with local orchestras. (I believe orchestras typically tend to feature their principals in solo engagements because it makes for easier marketing, and besides, such players are also used to doing some degree of soloistic work due to the significant number of solos written for principal players in the orchestral literature.) By the way: We live in an age where perfect technique is commonplace and no guarantee of even an orchestral job.
  3. Well, there's microtonal music, that uses quarter-steps.
  4. I've noticed that teenage violinists, especially ones who think of themselves as having more-than-average talent, tend to take themselves very seriously, and are often quite competitive as well. I also want to avoid offending with this remark, but: Young musicians who grow up in small towns often think of themselves as being much better than they actually are, and develop egos to suit. I think the serious demeanor develops because they become so concerned about being "good" that they forget about the joy of making music. Almost anyone can benefit from more technique. If you've just finished learning the first seven positions, there's no doubt a significant amount of technical refinement left ahead of you. It depends what you want to play, though. Mark O'Connor's music, for instance, requires a virtuoso's technique.
  5. When you're trying stuff out at a shop, they will normally lend you a decent bow appropriate to the price range of the violins you're looking at, if you ask.
  6. I don't think they have any special pedagogical qualities, if that's what you're asking. Paganini wrote the Caprices to show off his technique. The Caprices demonstrate pretty much all the "classic" virtuoso tricks and introduce some innovations, as a result. Because of this, the Caprices are also reasonable exercises for working on mastering those virtuoso tricks. However, the collection doesn't form an etude book in the traditional sense of the word. (I don't believe Paganini was interested in teaching at all, for that matter.) There's one Caprice for each key (it's the reason why so many composers wrote 24 of whatever it was they were writing).
  7. lwl

    Stefan Jackiw

    You should still be able to find the November issue of Classic FM in the magazine racks, if you want to hear the recording, Arpa. I don't believe he's actively concertizing yet, just doing a few engagements here and there. I wonder how the London performance was compared to the recorded one. The Strad critics aren't usually readily moved to gush.
  8. lwl

    Stefan Jackiw

    Yes, it's a recording of a live performance with Zander and the youth orchestra at the NEC. I wonder how much of what I perceive as an issue of tone quality is him forcing his instrument / being unable to get the variety of tone color necessary / not having the longer sustain of a better-quality violin. Change of handle is because I got tired of typing.
  9. Has anyone heard Stefan Jackiw live, or heard his live recording of the Mendelssohn concerto, on the CD that comes with "Classic FM" magazine's November issue? For those who don't know who he is, he's a 14-year-old American violinist, labeled a prodigy. "Classic FM" (which is unfortunately sort of the "People" magazine of classical music recording magazines) writes a pretty fawning article, including a "new Menuhin" label. I just listened to the recording, and was puzzled: Very good technique, yes, but it doesn't have the effortless sound of the young Sarah Chang (nor is it spotless, given the live performance, but he seems to have a consistent problem with hitting high notes cleanly and then sustaining a vibrato on them). His tone bothered me. I couldn't tell if it was the acoustics of the recording or the actual tone. The orchestral sound was fine, but his own tone had almost no bloom or after-ring to the notes, and it seemed like he had highly limited control over the tone color -- an unrelentingly dry, intense sound, despite the use of vibrato. I wasn't absorbed by the interpretation, either; the third movement was the best of the three, but my thought upon hearing a page's worth of the first movement was, "Someone needs to tell this kid that Mendelssohn is not Brahms." It definitely didn't have the breath-taking quality of listening to the young Sarah Chang or Midori, for instance -- or Menuhin himself. Is it just me? Is the recording just unflattering? Or is the press, in its search for another prodigy to hype, just thrusting this kid into the limelight? Somebody tell me what I'm missing.
  10. lwl


    Regardless of the order, the Brahms and the Mendelssohn hardly belong anywhere in the same league, in terms of difficulty. Aaron Rosand has made fine recordings of these concerti, ysaye. (He may have the only modern recordings of the first three, in fact.) All of them are virtuoso works. Ernst, as a composer, appears to have tried to out-Paganini Paganini, in general, so I would bet that the Ernst F# minor, at least, is probably more difficult than the Paganini No. 1.
  11. Go to www.live365.com and search for "Classical Violin Masters". The station isn't always up, but it's all-great-violinists, all-the-time.
  12. Emma, Would you want to take the SATs under the same conditions? If the answer is "no", then it's probably not reasonable to audition under those conditions, either. You owe it to yourself to give yourself every advantage that you can -- which means being rested, alert, and calm for your audition. None of the circumstances you describe sound like they contribute towards that. (Also, if there's any problem, like a car breakdown, major accident on the road or other traffic-jam-causing circumstance, etc. you could be late to your audition -- not good at all.) I might point out that while paying for a couple of nights of hotel accomodation can get expensive, college is VERY expensive. Auditions could potentially impact your scholarships, so short-term monetary savings may just not be worth it.
  13. Though, Toscha, I think the *average* level of technical accomplishment at the professional level (and probably at the serious amateur level) is much higher than it was in the early-mid 20th century, thanks to a higher standard of teaching and uniformity of training. Jaw-dropping technique is no longer sufficient for a solo career. Now you need something else as well -- which might or might not be musically related. (You could be just immensely marketable for some reason.)
  14. By contrast, I haven't had a problem with the Infeld Red E (which is the gold E string in the Infled series) whistling. It's the only gold E string that doesn't seem to have this problem. (True for both my violins.)
  15. I've listened to Bron's recording of the Beethoven concerto. It's not particularly exceptional, but I'd be interested to hear what he sounds like in more fire-and-brimstone sorts of repertoire, since his students seem to excel at it. I wouldn't say, just from listening to that one CD, that the connection between him and his most famous students is especially apparent.
  16. lwl


    Flyboy, Heh. Yes, a direct descendent -- he was taught by a student of Auer's. Auer apparently tried to talk other people out of doing the premier for the same reason that he didn't want to do it himself -- that there wasn't enough preparation time available, and the player who took it on could only both harm his reputation and that of Tchaikovsky's.
  17. I don't own a TV. Even when I lived with housemates who had TVs, I watched very little TV. However, I think there's some superb content on TV, along with the junk. There are plenty of excellent shows on PBS. Bravo, A&E, the History Channel, Discovery, and the Living Channel, notably, often have continuously excellent programs; at a given time, if I want to watch TV, between those five channels there's almost certainly something worth seeing. There have been good pure entertainment shows, as well, with intelligent writing; I've been a fan of Babylon 5, Law and Order, and West Wing, for instance. And I admit to usually really enjoying Buffy and Angel. Of course, many people allow themseves to spend hours in front of the TV, watching whatever comes along. I think this is a valid form of relaxation; we can't do useful things with every moment of our lives -- "time out" is important. There's just a point where it becomes excessive (and I do believe that most Americans watch an excessive amount of TV). We can discuss the media ad nauseam, I'm sure, but I'd like to point out that we have, as a society, fallen into a trap of believing that the media reports objectively and accurately. As someone who deals with the press on a daily basis, I have to point out that reporters work on very tight deadlines, consequently have limited time to investigate stories, and often come to a story with a pre-conceived "angle" that they are going to support, even if this spin is subtle. They do a good job, usually, given the constraints of their profession. I don't think it's really possible to shelter children from the society they live in by limiting their exposure to TV. I certainly think that it's a good idea to know what one's children are watching, and prevent them from spending hours in front of the TV, though.
  18. The entire HKV thread has made me wonder: Why don't the experts (i.e., the professional musicians) post? The luthiers do. But it appears that there are a fair number of professional players who read the board, and don't post, or post in a very limited sense. Anyone want to de-lurk for long enough to answer this question? It certainly makes me wonder about the quality of my postings. (But then again, I've never claimed I know a lot... merely inclined to write frequently.)
  19. Depends on what type of strings, too. E strings can go false really quickly, and need to be changed more often than the rest. I used to wear out Dominants in less than two months. My Obligatos sound fine after more than twice that, though... if there's any tonal degradation I can't hear it. I'll change after a total of six months pass -- or three weeks before anything important enough that I don't want to worry about breaking a string in the middle of it.
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