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Everything posted by Flavio

  1. I think it is typical (and a worrisome symptom)of our age to get very worried when we don't like a piece of music by a well known composer (or artist, in general). We are afraid to say that we don't like it. We tend to say "I don't understand it" which sounds much more modest and reasonable. The truth is that when we say we don't understand a work of art we really mean we don't like it. But we are afraid to imply we, small guys, are passing a negative judgment on the work of a famous guy, a great genius. As, far as music goes, its language has become so fragmented that it is hardly possible to follow the specific "idiom" or "dialect" of all composers. I respect very much the French audience that booed the premiere of the "Rite of Spring". By golly, they just didn't like it and were not afraid to take responsibility in front of posterity. History proved them wrong but at least they had something to say. This is very different from the uncertain timid applause that follows some of contemporary music performances. No responsabilities taken. Too much confusion. Nonetheless time will tell. Audiences know what they like. Going back to the specific, I think time is gradually assessing the impact of some of the works you mentioned. The violin works of Shostakovich, Bartok, and Berg seem to be passing the test of time. The same is not true (seems to me) of the Stravinsky and the Schoenberg: people just don't seem to like them. I don't, that's for sure. I think that we should not neglect contemporary music and we should listen with an open mind, but personally I'd rather have a root canal than attending again a performance of, say, George Crumb's "Ancient voices of children" and I don't have a problem with that. I hope there's others out there who don't feel like they have to applaude by default. Flavio
  2. Kreisler13, how old are you? Your post is full of wisdom. The Argentinian writer J.L. Borges, speaking about books, once defined a classic as "a book that doesn't necessarily have any specific merit but to which generations of men are mysteriously faithful", or something pretty close (I am quoting by heart). In this sense, as you said, the Tchaikovsky is a honest to God classic. Big Time. Flavio
  3. I think it's hard to generalize. Geographical preferences are the result of many many factors, politics are one of those. I am not going to touch the socio-anthropological factors but I am in the mood for some chatting on this board. Szerying: His Bach is among the most respected in the west too (my personal favorite). It is true, though, that he never attained the topmost stardom status he deserved. He said that his career in the US was opposed by "strong inimical influences" which he preferred to ignore. He said that, in the end this had been a wise move but still, his rise was delayed. Many professionals swear that the same "inimical influnces" are the reason why a fantastic tonalist like Aaron Rosand could never have the career he deserved in the US. I think this great artist deserves a place in the history of violin playing, still, whenever the periodic "favorite violinist poll" appears on this board his name hardly ever appears. Oistrakh is revered in the West as well. Heifetz, the peerless. Nobody would dispute that his instrumental command was matchless. But, as Henry Roth shrewdly notices, there was more than that. Heifetz's sound was (is) inherently more thrilling to the general audience than Ostraikh's (not to mention Szigeti's). Heifetz could (can) please both the connoisseur and the layman. Contrary to Oistrakh he also had the Hollywood masterminds who smartly marketed his unrivalled talent and created the Heifetz legend. Ever seen the video "Heifetz/Piatigorsky" with that narrating voice that seems to be talking about a demigod? That's the stuff legends are made of. In the case of Heifetz there was at least the most mind-boggling talent that ever touched a violin. In some other cases we have have had legends built on very mediocre talent. No names please! Every nation/continent creates its myths based on very many different factors. The criterions may be different but what counts is creating the MYTH. You use verbs like "adore", "revere". I think this is not a coincidence. The whole rapport between the soloist and the audience is based on this suspicious relationship between the demigod (playing the fiddle, the piano, or waving his baton in the air) and the worshipping assembly of the faithfuls. Glenn Gould (even though he did not escape the contraddictions anyway) was so disgusted at this realationship that he quit giving live concerts. The agonizing classical record industry is ready to exploit any chance of creating new myths, in order to sell a few more copies. One example is Nigel Kennedy: I have read his autobiography "Still playing". He makes such a fuss out of being unconventional. But he is just another marketable convenience: the "punk violinist" wearing a soccer scarf. Gotta play by the rules if you want recognition. Whatever continent you live in. Otherwise you can make other choices. But maybe not many people will ever know your name. Maybe i am too cynical, but I'd like to hear about these topics from other people. Flavio
  4. sony is also re-releasing the SEON series of the seventies at budget price. Many historical recordings of Leonhardt, the Kujiken brothers etc. Not necessarily about violin but of great historical importance. It took me 3 or 4 months to make up my mind, but I have to say that Manze's devil's sonata represents (IMO) the best performance of Tartini's masterpiece. This is the first recording by Manze that truly involved me completely, (despite the not exactly velvety sound and not exactly dead center intonation in some points). :-) It's truly an interpretation for the the decades. Flavio
  5. ...but they are a "moody" orchestra and, it is true that sometimes they have a lapse (have you ever read Culshaw's book on the making of Wagner's ring?). They have to respect the conductor, otherwise the won't give their best. Under Carlos Kleiber, just to name the most outstanding living baton, they simply sound like gods (see Brahms 4th or Beethoven's 5th and 7th on DG) under other conductors they respect less, they may not sound as good (I am not implying they didn't respect Bernstein...even if that was the case I just don't know). Maybe Andrew Victor has purchased a particularly substandard recording of them (if there is such thing). Maybe the guys were tired after playing some opera for 3 or 4 hours, or teaching at the nearby Conservatory: they have a very heavy schedule. Just speculating. Long live the Wiener Philharmoniker! Flavio : Gosh, Andy, I'll never claim to be Bernstein's biggest fan, but if the Vienna strings aren't good enough for you, then who the hell is?????
  6. : by Bach. Pretty complicated. Any tips? I believe the first and most important step is to secure a good and accurate edition. It will be invaluable in solving apparently complicated fingerings and bowings. Personally, my favorite is Szerying's. As he himself states in the introduction, musical considerations have a priority over comfort. Still his fingerings make a lot of sense and do not require a big hand. As a whole, not only for the chaconne, this inexpensive Schott edition is a treasure. I am sure there are other fine editions around. You may also want to secure an urtext. You will see that, in some cases there are Bach's own suggestions for arpeggios and fingerings. Contrary to what Kato Havas implies in her offensively simplistic and ill-informed statements in the article named in a post below, Bach knew exactly what the resources of a violin are (and what the top players of the time were able of doing with polyphonic violin playing in the German tradition). Bach's first adult job was as a violinist and, according to his sons, he played the violin with good sound and intonation until the end of his life. Even though it is of vital importance to keep the architecture of the work in mind, I would not attempt to keep a steady beat in the beginning. It is likely that some variations are going to be more challenging than others, depending on your strengths and weaknesses. I would tackle the technical challenges of every variation before trying to put it all together. At least that's what I do. After all, this is the work of a lifetime. Good luck Flavio
  7. For mike (and all those interested): Andrew Manze is going to tour the US pretty soon: October/November. Check out Harmonia Mundi's website for a date nearest to you. One comment: I have mixed feelings about the guy but his devil's trill (devil's sonata) is something unique. He has created something that gives me the creeps. Another comment: I was glad to see that even a conservative and less than insightful (when it comes to music rather than objects to produce it with) magazine like the Strad had a very favorable review of Fabio Biondi's american debut with his group "Europa Galante". No comment: Kato Havas' article on Bach's Chaconne on the same issue of the Strad. Regards, Flavio
  8. : i have not spent much time on the board lately, but i must confess that over the past year there has been an increasing element of quick, terse, or even mean responses to queries. not to say that i have myself not gotten into heated debates, but there are people out there trying to get information out there that do not expect to get slammed, or insulted. i see fewer regulars on this sight every time i logon? are they just bored, tired or tired of the boring ignorant responses that sometimes appear? : another thing that bothers me greatly is profanity- he admin used to be rather quick to remove it, but some laxness has taken over, and now i see it more often. : as to the person asking about the $1900 strad; of course it is a copy (or i could tell you a story...), but be nice,...inform. : mike Hello mike, the reasonable and amiable man in you shines again. During the past weeks, I have had similar thoughts, and I only seldom visit the BB. The board is a source of valuable information, on the other hand I am sometimes so hurt by what I read that it puts me in a foul mood for a long time. After all, it's only natural: the board is not a private club where you dwell with the people you chose, it's like a bar with all sorts of people. It's up to you whether you want to keep going to the bar for the sake of the good people, despite the annoying people. As far as I am concerned, I have reached the conclusion that there is something inhuman about virtual communication and I think I am not thick-skinned enough for it. I regularly used to spend my breaks at work reading the board, but I think I'd rather have a coffee at the nearby cafeteria with my colleagues more often: I'll learn less about violins but I will have a more rewarding human experience. Best regards, Flavio P.S. As far as the administration goes, they are in a tough position. When do you start censorship? Is the word "idiot" worse than "fool"? You know what I mean. Also I have seen much worse. A few months ago, there was a porn link, under the the title "new york violins". The link was there for weeks, despite the (somewhat humorous) posts of appalled people. At the time, I didn't say anything not to attract more attention to the link.
  9. While I am at it, I would like to add that I try really hard not to take advantage of my "anonimity" on this discussion board. I take responsibility for my (hopefully civilized) statements and, even when I am polemical, I try never to be mean or offensive to anybody. I hope I am being successful.
  10. : March 1998 Strad Magazine Page 278 is an article titled "Widening the Left Hand". Might give you some ideas. Earlier you mentioned you had a bad experience on the internet. Would you mind sharing it so we can all learn from it? : JC. Mr. Cox, Thank you very much for the tip. I'll get a copy of that Strad issue. As far as internet problems go, I didn't mean to get anybody worried but the situation is as follows: if you stumble across a nut case that is also a computer literate (if not a downright "guru") he can give you a hard time. In my case, more or less three years ago, this crazy guy must have "fingered" my account and was able, through the information available in the electronic personnel directory of my campus, to get my home address and phone number. Luckily he got tired of it pretty soon. Maybe now I am overcautious, still it wasn't pleasant to receive weird phone calls, especially because my then girlfriend got rather freaked out. This said, I don't mean to scare anybody: I guess that with a personal e-mail address (as opposed to a business e-mail address) things are much safer. But even if you use a job e-mail, you may ask your system administrator to take care of the necessary security procedures (prevent "fingering", controlling remote logins, etc. etc.). I guess I am also sensitive to this topic because during the past year the system in our lab has been repeatedly broken into by hackers. But this is another story... Regards, Flavio : : Flavio
  11. Hi all, I'd like to hear from players with small hands. I have rather small hands and, as I progress with my violin studies, I am getting into more and more trouble with tenths, foingered octaves, etc. and some of the stretches in the standard repertoire. Can you recommend any etude, exercise or trick to "open" the hand as effectively as possible (without getting injured)? Thanks as usual, Flavio
  12. Hi, I am aware of the existence of these "Octavgeige" (or something like that) strings, made by Thomastik, which bring a violin down an octave. But I guess these would be useless for the viola... Flavio
  13. : flavio, : andy has once again (twice in a sixth month period)written an insigtful response to a magazine that was published. in this months issue i not only saw a letter from him, but a letter form a flavio of california concerning the violoncello society of america. : maybe a different flavio? Congratulations to Andrew Victor, but that's definitely a different Flavio (I never write insightful things :-( ). Also I generally try to disguise my real identity because of an unpleasant experience I had on the net, so I was surprised to see my pen name mentioned. mike, I think you and some others on this board would enjoy: Inside early music: conversations with the performers. by Bernard D. Sherman. The most exciting musical reading in years. A must have for devotees and detractors alike. It's a series of interviews with "historically informed" performers. These conversations, ranging from Chant to Brahms, touch some of the topics that have been discussed on this board: improvisation, vibrato, tuning, phrasing, etc. Humbly but enthusiastically recommended. You can read some comments at: www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/quicksearch-query/002-2900843-1554037 Enjoy!!! Flavio
  14. Hi, I would like to know more about betablockers in terms of: what exactly is this product? What are the side effects? Also, from the psychological point of view, do users think that thy are "cheating" when using them? My teacher says that it is a commonly accepted practice to take this medicine, although they seem to help some people but not others (he belongs to the latter category). He says wind players in orchestras tend to use them a lot to eliminate the shakes. Just curios... Flavio
  15. Hi all, I haven't seen much comments about pads (like, say, Playonar). Personally I use a Playonair and I find that it gives me both the "angle freedom" Mr. Weaver was talking about and the necessary thickness for my relatively long neck. After switching to Playonair I find the shoulder rest grip too "constrained". A major advantage of a pad is, in my view, the absolute absence of damage to my instrument. I think that, no matter how hard the varnish is, continuous localized pressure damages the violin. Any comment on this? Thanks Flavio
  16. : did i see both andrew victor, and flavio in strings this month? boy i am jealous, my freebie subscription just ran out and it's time for me to come up with a letter. any suggestions? : p.s. i'm not suggesting you did it for the subscription, but it sure is nice! Hi Augustine, I do not read strings regularly, so I don't know what you are talking about. Could you please explain? Thanks, Flavio
  17. : How would I know one if I met it in the dark? They would probably speak Italian with a heavy Paduan accent...:-) Seriously, when you play a double stop with perfect intonation, it is possible to hear a tone whose frequency is the difference of the frequencies of the tones you are actually playing. Tartini is credited with the discovery (in the illuministic spirit of the time, the guy had a passion for math). This phenomenon is actually exploited to check intonation. In my experience I have noticed that the violin must be decent otherwise I have a lot of difficulty perceiving the "third sound". In general, these differential frequencies are routinely encountered in all the branches of acoustics.
  18. : Where is the 'correct' place to hold a baroque violin bow: a little further up the stick than a modern bow or right by the frog? Martin, I guess you'll get a variety of answers because, as far as we can tell from treatises there was no such thing as a "correct" place to hold the bow. It seems that olding th bow at the frog was the way of the great italian and german virtuosos who, contrary to the French, woul draw the largest possible tone from their instrument. It also seem that, for poorer quality bows, the location of the grip was a matter of obtaining a good balance. Nowadays performers use both ways. Two days ago I saw Elisabeth Blumenstock play: she was holding the bow well above the frog. On the other hand, when I saw il Giardino Armonico, Enrico Onofri was holding the bow at the frog (in the Italian tradition). I guess that if you concern is about being a "purist" you can't go wrong either way. Flavio
  19. : flavio, : i just picked up an interesting recording of purcell's fantasias for the viols. the music is quite wonderful, but the liner notes are intriguing as well. it is on the avedis, or something like that label. are you familiar with it? : mike Mike, if it is the Jordi Savall's recording on Astree/Auvidis, you have the classic of classics (although that is an expensive label in the US). (Incidentally, I consider a concert I saw of Jordi Savall and his "Hesperion XX" and "Capella Reyal de Catalunia" as the greatest live performance I ever attended). I have a version played by "Fretwork", on Virgin, just because I got it for real cheap. IMHO Purcell is the greatest musical genius England has produced (Dowland is close though). The Fantasias and in nomines, though already oldfashioned in his time, do full justice to his inimitable talent. I really love his vocal music above everything else, though. But just recently I bought a CD called "Chaconne" played by Musica Antiqua Koln. It contains two chaconies (for strings) by Purcell: the one in g minor is performed with extraordinary "graces" on the part of the players. I love it. Regards Flavio P.S. No I am not on the east coast. I am in California.
  20. : Yes,it is expansive.I am thinking of ordering it from Shar.$15.00 : I suspect not many buying it the so the cost of printing higher then normal title. : But it is a beautiful piece. Hi Guarneri, I agree with you on the Desplanes. You told us you were looking around to buy an instrument from a contemporary maker. I am very interested in acquiring a contemporary violin too. Would you like to share your professional opinion so far? Just curious. Thanks, Flavio
  21. Hi, a while ago I mail ordered a piece called "Intrada" by Desplanes. The price is 18.50. Considering it is a very short piece, when I ordered it I thought it would be one of those fancy editions with some biographical information and maybe a reproduction of the original score. Instead I get these three sheets of music (one for the violin, two for the piano) without even a cover, in a 1911 revision with old-fashioned fingerings. Only the birthdate of the compser is printed: 1672 (is he still alive, by chance?). I don't mind spending a little more for fine sheet music editions, but in this case I cannot help feeling disappointed. This one gets my vote for most overpriced sheet music. Flavio
  22. Hi all, a while ago somebody was looking for practice/travel/take-apart violins. If the information is still useful, I just got one from Mr. Ernest Nussbaum in Bethesda, MD. It is basically a violin without body, that can be taken apart and fit in a small box (the maximum length, when disassembled, is from the tip of the scroll to the end of the fingerboard). The tone is quite audible; you can further muffle it with a mute. Everything is quite simple and essential. Ir comes with a plastic Guarneri style chinrest. I find it slightly more difficult to listen for perfect intonation but I guess the ear has to get used to the new sounds. I am going to take it with me on my trips and it is going to give me more flexibility in my practice time without driving other people in the household nuts. In other words, I got it to practice more. Obviously, I am not associated in any way with Mr. Nussbaum and I don't make any money with this item :-). Flavio
  23. As Mr. Benning, said people travel with *much* larger carry-on luggage than a standard oblong violin case. I never had a problem. Considering what people carry on board, you should put up an incredible stink if they only mention your violin. But it's not going to happen. If this is the only reason to buy a new case I'd save the money. Flavio
  24. : ******* : Hello Flavio, : I believe that it does NOT take a lifetime of study to begin creating your own "edition" of a Baroque work. A knowledgeable teacher and a compendium of practice should set a path.True, the longer one studies, the more discerning one may become. : This brings me, a non-violinist observer, to the point of being somewhat appalled at the path of my daughter-violinst's musical education, which leapfrogged her from the fixed editions in the Suzuki books almost directly into concerto literature. She has played Bach solo-violin literature as marked and instructed by her Russian violin teacher. She has developed few guidelines that I can hear concerning Baroque customs. The clean edition I bought is left unmarked in favor of the copied sheets from her teacher's edition. : Watching the development of my daughter and her peers, the general standard of violin teaching seems to follow Leopold Auer's advice (Violin Playing As I Teach It, 1921)": : "I have always found it impossible to regard style in music as a matter of historical development . . .Beauty and not tradition is the touchstone of all style. And what may be beauty in style during the eighteenth century is not necessarily that in the twentieth. I have no respect for that nuch-abused word "tradition . . . Let them [violinists] express themselves, and not fetter their playing with rules that have lost their meaning." : I can't believe in this, and I know you do not either. : When I taught flute, my middle-school students edited their Handel sonatas themselves, one movement at a time. We started with an urtext and first learned conventions for trills. Then we went on. These were average kids, but they learned to think for themselves. They didn't go out and buy several different recordings to compare, although I played for them and encouraged them to listen to Baroque music. They worked with the music at their own technical level. I tried to give them the tools. Of course, we were bound to fail, some would say, at the start, because the modern flute sounds nothing like the wood one-keyed flute of Handel's period; but I do not appologize for thinking that the music could best be appreciated with some regard for Baroque conventions. I don't think they had to give a life-time of study to appreciate historic Handel. I am sure they will recognize, now and evermore, whether a trill begins on the upper or lower note. : Amateurs are the lovers of music. Amateurs love teachers and artists too. You and I both could get all heated up about degrees of authenticity, but I think more energy should be expended on examining why so many violinists get herded along like sheep through the Romantic concerto literature to the detriment Baroque conventions and the sonata literature. : I don't think we are in disagreement that attention to performance detail is important. : Consider this: in graduate school, I was on the path to get a M in music history. Although I done well up to this point, my advisor sat me down and told me I had to quit playing flute in order to do more reading and writing. My real music was taking too much of my time and energy (I was taking lessons, playing in symphony, symphonette, lab orchestra, a chamber group, and a contemporary music group . . . ) This shook me up so much that although I had completed all the requirements for music history except writing the thesis, I changed my major to applied music, gave a recital, and graduated. : I can't separate music away from music history, but the time comes just to start playing as best we can. : Ann Brown Mrs. Brown, it is funny how, sometimes the virtual reality of the ethernet projects a totally different image than the one we would like to give. I say it is funny because, although my father, a follower of idealistic philosophy in Croce's style, was very much into the late romantics and first taught me about Wagner, Brahms, Bruckner, etc., my real first music teacher was a lutenist, a stern supporter of what is now called '`historically informed` performance. It is safe to say that I have learned about Pisendel and Biber before I ever suspected the existence of a guy called Jascha Heifetz. Due to this kind of mentoring I discovered ``mainstream' interpretation of ``pre-classical music', long after I had gotten acquainted with ``period instrument' performances, which remain my reference standard (ideologically, if not always technically). I find myself having to continuosly defend ``performance practice', especially on the violin, where some tonal and expressive ideals are so rooted into the ``romantic' tradition that anything different is seen as anathema. I think I am the only one in the (pretty decent) community/student orchestra (which includes music performance majors) owning a ``baroque' bow. (I do not have a baroque violin because: 1) I am still pretty broke 2) My academic oriented lifestyle combined with a lamentable luck of natural talent, prevents me from devoting myself to both instruments (yes I consider them to be quite different instruments, sort of harpsichord.vs.piano). When I talk about a lifetime of research, what I mean to say is that generations of musicians/scholars die contributing to a work in progress. Just to focus on performance practice on the violin, the performers of the 90's (like Biondi, Carmignola, Letzbor, Manze) have little in common with those of the 60/70's (Kuijken, Schroeder, Alice Harnoncourt). Which doesn't mean that the older generations were ``wrong'. (Somebody on this board once minimized the seminal work of Dolmetsch, by accusing him of not using the right instruments, quite ridiculuos). All the people I mentioned were (are) all at the ``cutting edge' of the movement at their time. More research gets done and ideas change with time. I couldn't agree more with you when you talk about study. Given a certain amount of performing skills, study is all that matters. As you said, a good teacher and serious research can help you form your interpretation pretty early in life. I also believe, though, that our interpretation will appear to future generations as the result of our times (as well as of state of the art research). Also, as far as lifetimes go, I can still remember my father quoting the Italian critic and music historian, Abbiati, on Wagner: ``Only those who have much lived and much suffered can understand Tristan'. As a boy I really didn't have a clue what my dad meant. Now I know and, obviously, my understanding of Tristan is still a work in progress... It is also funny that you quote Auer's book, and I am glad that you believe I don't share Mr. Auer's opinions. Actually, ``Violin playing as I teach it' contains ideas that I abhorr(sp.) (although I respect them as the product of their time). Incidentally, the more I read about the great virtuosos who were associated with him, the more I think that Auer's reputation as a teacher is very overrated. Again, my apologies for any misunderstanding. Sometimes I wonder what Beckett and Pirandello would have written about ``virtual communication', they who were already so skeptical about the real thing. Flavio
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