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lwl

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Everything posted by lwl

  1. That's what it's supposed to be like. They want you to put the card in your case to measure the humidity. It's not very accurate. If you have an in-case humidity indicator, use that instead (though most of those aren't very accurate either).
  2. Can anyone think of *any* extraordinary player today who did not study with a major teacher? I'm not talking about soloists, necessarily -- i.e., consider the folks in your community. (This hopefully eliminates the issue of great teachers being better able to promote their students' careers.) Hahn is vastly, vastly, *vastly* superior to Chang, on both technical and musical levels.
  3. Is O'Connor actually classically trained? I got the impression that he wasn't. What's "overnoting" and "the dreaded staccatos"?
  4. quote: Originally posted by SteveLaBonne: You actually expected better from Marriner? Dictionaries should have his picture next to the definition of "mediocrity". I grew up with Marriner's recordings of Mozart, and a variety of other Classical and Baroque-era works, as well. I think his work with the ASMF in his prime was outstanding. Certainly I would have at least expected him to sound *involved*...
  5. Now I've listened to the entire CD once, though it's going to live in my CD player for a while, I think. The recorded sound is very good. The balance sounds natural, with the soloist not too far forward; Hahn carries easily over the orchestra without ever sounding like it's taking effort, and the tone quality remains smoothly singing throughout -- no small feat in the Brahms, in particular. I was struck by the sense of a live performance, listening to this disc; from Hahn, there is a sense of force and drama sustained throughout, the kind of "charge" that's more typical in the concert hall than in the studio. In the concert hall, I think this would be riveting. Hahn's playing in the Brahms is terrific. Her ability to sustain a very long line is notable here, and clearly this is a thoughtful interpretation, personal without being idiosyncratic. It is most readily compared to Milstein's; it exhibits Classical restraint while still respecting the music's Romanticism. I am, however, incredibly disappointed by the quality of Marriner's conducting. On the surface of it, he seems like a natural partner for Hahn's temperament, with his own classicist temperament. Yet, the interpretation he sets down is mechanical at best. From the very opening of the work, the orchestra sounds lackluster; the long introductory tutti is totally lacking in a quality of magic (at least for me) -- Monteux's conducting with Szeryng, for instance, is ponderous and nearly painful to listen to, but at least he sounds involved, as opposed to Marriner, who just seems bored. The first movement is full of moments which, for me, are jarring -- times when Hahn makes a dramatic statement which the orchestra then utterly fails to respond to in its echo. Fortunately things go better in the second and third movements, but I find myself wondering if the orchestra needed intravenous caffeine; I find the quality of the accompaniment lacking throughout. It's not that it's actually badly played -- it just lacks the sense that this is anything other than clock-watching routine. The Stravinsky is a different story; the orchestra seems to wake up, though I can't say that Marriner seems to have any affinity with this music. I confess that I've never previously liked or understood the Stravinsky concerto, but Hahn makes a compelling case for it. (I felt the same way about the Bernstein Serenade before hearing Hahn's recording of it.) I think she has a gift for clarifying and unifying musical architectures that serves her well here, and I'll come back to listen to this again. I really like the program notes; again written by Hahn, they're nicely personal without being chatty, conveying the usual musicological information in a friendly conversational tone that will probably make them seem far more accessible to the ordinary listener. Bottom line: I cannot recommend this as a first-choice CD for the Brahms in general; for my taste, that honor still goes to Oistrakh or Milstein. But for a present-day player, this certainly rates high on the list. And Hahn fans, I'm sure, will want this disc! [This message has been edited by lwl (edited 11-16-2001).]
  6. The short answer is "practice". Your teacher's advice is sound. Work on smoothly changing the sounding point. Experiment to find out what kind of combinations of weight, speed, and contact point result in desirable sounds (and particular tone colors). Try open strings first. Note that because of differing bow-distribution needs, you will definitely want to try varying speed and part of the bow that you use. Be careful that when you play softly, you don't lose the solid contact of the bow hair with the string, or you'll get a "surfacey" sound rather than setting the core of the string vibrating properly. Once you find the combinations you like, practice those combinations until they feel automatic, and you can call them forth at will.
  7. In general, I am significantly less familiar with sonatas than concertos. I don't have enough experience hearing them either live or on recording to really have solid opinions. My first inclination in this repertoire would be Oistrakh, though.
  8. I have far too many recordings of the first concerto: Cho-Liang Lin, Nathan Milstein, Schlomo Mintz, Anne-Sophie Mutter, David Oistrakh, Igor Oistrakh, Julian Rachlin, Ruggiero Ricci, Gil Shaham, Dmitri Sitkovetsky, Joseph Sivo, Vladimir Spivakov, Isaac Stern, Joseph Szigeti, and Maxim Vengerov. I'm probably forgetting some, too. Szigeti and David Oistrakh form what I think of as the "baseline" interpretations of this particular work; both had the direct input of the composer, but their temperaments are quite different and consequently the results are quite different. I think both of them are certainly worth hearing. I believe the only Oistrakh recording currently in print is the Prague broadcast one; the tiny technical flaws aren't noticeable unless you're really familiar with the work, and the performance is full of momentum. I also think that Isaac Stern (either of his two recordings) is worth a listen; I find his interpretation closer to Szigeti's than Oistrakh's, in taste. Milstein's studio recording (the broadcast one leaves the orchestra in the dust, unfortunately) is typical aristocratic playing, very worthwhile if you like Milstein's playing in general. For study purposes, Dmitri Sitkovetsky is well worth obtaining; he plays with remarkable clarity. Like other younger players, his playing favors an Oistrakh-like interpretation. The exception is the young Julian Rachlin. There is, on the Sony label, a live recording of his performance, which is electrifying, romantic playing in the old Auer tradition. (Paradoxically, the Tchaikovsky concerto it is coupled with is nowhere near as good.) Mutter is flat-out strange; I wouldn't recommend her recording to anyone who doesn't have a bunch of them already, but it's certainly interesting listening to someone with this unique of a take on the piece. I don't have a really solid "favorite" for the second concerto. I think Heifetz is certainly the first recording to buy in that work, though. [This message has been edited by lwl (edited 11-15-2001).]
  9. When I was at Tower earlier today picking up Hahn's new Brahms/Stravinsky recording, I noticed that Leila Josefowicz has also just released a new recording -- the two Prokofiev concertos coupled with Tchaikovsky's Serenade Melancholique. I only had time to listen to the First Concerto, which, thanks to her unusually slow tempi, ran significantly longer than expected. The first few notes of the concerto are gorgeous -- a pure, ethereal, connected sound that reminds you that this woman is a Ysaye descendant by way of Brodsky. Unfortunately, that's the first and last time you'll remember that, in her recording of this work. This is a really oddly self-indulgent interpretation -- even moreso than her other recent recordings. It's full of very sharp, rather harsh accents -- paradoxically breaking up rather than highlighting Prokofiev's play with rhythms, in my opinion. It certainly doesn't lack for originality, but I'm not sure I can consider that a positive thing; ultimately I walked away unconvinced by her reading (and didn't buy the CD). While Mutter, for example, is also self-indulgent and pretty "out there" interpretively in this work, she plays with such conviction that she makes it work (at least for me) -- even if I ultimately walked away thinking that her rendition wasn't the within the realm of ways I'd like to hear it, it was compelling, interesting listening. Josefowicz is simply Just Different. Also, there are some questionable moments, technically, as well, including a really glaring bout of octaves in the Scherzo. Why that was not fixed by another take, I have no idea -- this is a studio recording, after all. I keep expecting better from Josefowicz, but her last bunch of recordings have just been disappointing. (This CD was recorded in May 1999, according to the booklet. The note from Josefowicz within is dated May 2001. And yet it's being released now -- odd.) Any other thoughts? I want to listen to the rest of the disc at some time... [This message has been edited by lwl (edited 11-15-2001).]
  10. I guess you really CAN sell anything on eBay.
  11. toc, y'all sound great.
  12. I only heard a few minutes of the third movement -- I liked it sufficiently that I'm going to see if I can find a few free minutes today to go to Tower Records. I was reminded strongly of Milstein.
  13. Heh. I turned on the radio when I got into the car early this morning, and heard the third movement of the Brahms come on, shortly before the cadenza. I immediately thought, "Geez, that sounds like Hilary Hahn, but I didn't think her recording had gotten released yet." (I had not heard her play this concerto previously, either, and she hasn't performed with the SFSO to my knowledge, so it wasn't likely to be a broadcast tape.) It turned out, of course, to indeed be Hahn. Who says modern violinists aren't recognizable?
  14. Five new files: Gary (Tar Road to Sligo) Mu0n (Sitt Concertino #3) SteveLaBonne (Bach E major concerto) toc (Fisher's Hornpipe) and someone anonymous, playing Kreisler's Caprice Viennois. (Sorry, I still haven't managed to deal with the cello files. And Mu0n, I had to do some reconstructive surgery on the chopped-up MP3 you sent me...)
  15. No shortage of famous pushy parents, certainly. There's probably a strong argument to be made that behind many famous virtuosos is at least one pushy parent.
  16. This is the job of the orchestra's director to solve. If orchestra is a class in which grades are given out, part of that grade ought to be for effort -- which includes practicing, if need be.
  17. Fact: There is no shortage of magnificently accomplished players, regardless of what age group you're looking at. If you want to be an amateur, this fact ultimately doesn't matter to you; play reasonably well and chances are you'll have all the musical opportunities that you can cram into your schedule, as an adult. (Try to develop your technique while you're still young and thus have time to practice, though!) If you want to be a professional, this fact *does* matter to you, as you're entering a highly competitive profession. But frankly, there's a wide range of abilities amongst working musicians, too; plenty of people who aren't the very best make perfectly decent livings and are happy doing what they're doing. If you have ambitions to be a world-famous soloist, you do probably need to reset your expectations; if you want to teach strings in a public school, you should be doing just fine. Why are you a "disappointment"? Are you not practicing enough? Are you not practicing *well* (making good use of your time, being conscientious, etc.)? I would suggest that if you find your teacher's attitude detrimental to your progress, that you find somebody else to study with.
  18. quote: Originally posted by K545: And the stage fright thing. Ah, yes. It is not just the shakes, for those can be conquered by Inderal. It is the self-consciousness and consequent loss of focus. My reaction to things is based on their "importance". I can casually play in front of people if I know it doesn't matter if I screw up -- thus the "music stand in the park" idea doesn't much help me. It's actually the "redo" factor that gets me. I'm not nervous as long as I know I can do it again. A formal performance situation is the ultimate no-redo, at least in the life of someone like me (I imagine it might be different to someone playing a hundred solo concerts a year). I get wrapped up in trying to perfect the delivery right then and there, and of course that only leads to screwing up. Also, I think I have some kind of twitch vs. people staring at me when I'm standing up. Sitting down feels very different, for some utterly strange reason. (I find I experience this in public speaking, as well, not just violin-playing.) Consequently my *real* readiness to perform in a situation I consider "important", is when I can put the entire thing on autopilot and have it sound exactly the way I want it to sound. Given my available practice time, this effectively equates to "never". I think when I hear a player perform, I want to hear them deliver as close to the best that their current abilities (whatever they happen to be) allow them to.
  19. Many women have put aside their performing careers, temporarily or for fairly lengthy periods of time, in order to take care of their families. Notable examples: Kyung-Wha Chung (for a long period of time, to raise her children), and recently, Leila Josefowicz (briefly, for a pregnancy). As the sole surviving parent to her children, it should come as no great wonder that Mutter wants to spend more time at home -- and to not take any unnecessary risks with her life. (Whether those risks are real or perceived is no doubt a matter for debate, but what matters, from the perspective of one's decision-making, is whether one personally believes in the risks.)
  20. If I recall correctly, there's a substantial difference between that solo as it's in the Broadway score, and as Stern plays it in the movie; the Stern rendition is significantly longer and more virtuosic. Unfortunately, the solo part for the latter is not in print.
  21. At least back in my high school days, the Chicago Youth Symphony published a college guide devoted exclusively to music programs. I don't know if they still do -- chances are pretty good, though. http://www.cyso.org/
  22. Margaret Pardee was a Galamian assistant who eventually (by the 1970s or so) became well-respected as a teacher (at Juilliard) in her own right. Among others, she taught Robert McDuffie before he went to Dorothy DeLay. She's in one of the Way We Play volumes (No. 2 or 3, if I recall correctly).
  23. For once I must agree with HKV. Someday, you will all be professional musicians (or, if you ultimately decide that's not the life for you, happy and skilled amateurs). At that point, nobody is likely to care what you played like when you were a teenager. And sure, being terrific Right Now would open some doors (both now and later in your life), but that's true of anything we choose to do with our lives. You don't have to be a superstar to be happy. You have as much to offer the world as you're able to convince yourself you do. Sure, you have to be realistic. Sure, you've got to listen to yourself conscientiously and be ruthless with yourself -- discipline yourself to evaluate yourself honestly, and put in the work necessary. You do need to master the technical craft of the instrument, but let's be honest -- anyone can master the technical craft, with diligence and hard work and unwavering commitment to it (though it definitely doesn't hurt to have good teaching). You may find yourself frustrated at this stage, if you study with a teacher who doesn't enjoy working on the technical craft -- it could very well be a mutual waste of time. (There are some teachers who are remarkable instructors for musicianship, but who may deliver suggestions in vague terms that demand a solid and instinctive technical command to carry out.) But if you learn quickly, and practice well, you should delight the appropriate teacher. (There's an interesting story in the recent book on Dorothy DeLay, though, where she comments that one of the most satisfying things she's ever done is repair the playing of a child who had received incredibly poor early training.) Let me put it this way: If you were considering going to college to major in, say, physics, would you be discouraged if you were not the very best physics student in the entire city? Probably not! You'd go right along with your life like you'd planned. Why should this be any different?
  24. I originally wrote, "Do you consider yourself to have a more intellectual, or more emotional, approach to musical interpretation?" -- I phrased it as "more X than Y" because clearly practically everyone does some of both. Thus: Which do you tend to favor first, and how do the two approaches intertwine for you?
  25. http://fingerboard.maestronet.com/ubb/Foru...TML/001812.html Previous thread discussing this.
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