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About gowan

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  1. At some point someone buying a fine instrument has to trust someone involved, either the seller, dealer, or maker. There are so many stories of faked instruments that fool even so-called experts, the "Balfour" strad for example. One would think that buying from a living maker would be reliable as regards authenticity but it seems that an unscrupulous maker could import a white instrument and "finish" it and sell it as completely his own work and for his much higher price. There are so many pitfalls. If I were buying an instrument I would put most importance on how it plays and sounds. It
  2. Two extremely hard woods are lignum vitae and ipe. I saw somewhere that Lynn Hannings used ipe as a bow wood. Of course it is a rain forest wood. It is widely used to make decks with.
  3. Rachel Barton Pine usually plays a del Gesu, the 1742 "Soldat". In the small NPR studio we are very close to the violin and, to me, it has a wirey edgy sound which might serve well in a large hall. The warmth and softness of Sato's instrument, a Giovanni Grancino (1695), would at least partly be due to the gut strings and Baroque technique. It appears he was playing in a rather large room, maybe in a church(?), but from the reverb it would seem to be heard some distance away. For comparison I listened to Rachel Podger's recording of the piece and her interpretation seemed close to what Sat
  4. I want to play in an early music group but I can't afford to buy or commission a violin to play historically informed performance style. I thought I could just put some gut strings on a modern violin, have a baroque style bridge installed and use a baroque style bow but I have heard that using the baroque bridge and bow won't work because the neck angle will be wrong, the bridge won't work properly with the stronger bass bar. Do any of the makers here know whether this makes sense ? Thanks for your comments.
  5. I know of several women of petite stature who play 7/8th or 3/4th violins. One woman played a full size violin professionally but tried a 3/4th testing the sound and setup for a student and found that she liked it so much she kept it for herself! I'd also say that you have to be very careful with exercises to make your hand do what it doesn't want to do. So many musicians have injured themselves doing hand stretching exercises, even ones from famous methods books . If it is painful don't do it is my recommendation.
  6. FWIW Gidon Kremer has been playing a Nicolo Amati violin and prefers it to the Guarneri del Gesu he had been playing.
  7. What happens when instruments are bought from the UK or from the EU by USA citizens?
  8. I think slab cut backs are common in violas. Anyone want to comment on this except to make a viola joke out of it? E.g. there are so many viola jokes because violas are often made from joke wood.
  9. I don't know whether this is an issue but I notice that almost all of your pieces have fast tempo indications, except the Bach Andante of course. But if I were a judge I would miss hearing something at a really slow tempo such as Adagio or Lento, since there are musical as well as technical aspects in playing slow music that are not present at a faster tempo.
  10. But it's not everywhere at a high standard. I listen to a lot of music on YouTube or streaming and, really, there is no comparison with what I hear live in a good hall. There are not many orchestra halls in the world that can compare with Boston's Symphony Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, or the Vienna Musikverein. Then, too, the quality of the performance, i.e. instruments, skill of the players, and the interpretation are important. There is a place for classical music performances not at the highest levels. I play in a community orchestra and many people, who have never been to a class
  11. I wouldn't travel a long way just to hear a good orchestra. I do shortish trips to hear the Boston Symphony in their home hall 2.5 hours drive) and in Tanglewood in the summer (1.5 hours) and I usually go to New York City for the Met Opera a couple of times a year. Only exceptionally do I go to concerts by visiting orchestras in Boston or New York. If I were going to Amsterdam as part of a vacation trip to Europe I would try to get to The Concertgebouw, and when I was on a trip to Europe that included Vienna I did go to the Vienna State Opera. But those European trips were not just for the
  12. So many times it has been mentioned that when you hear a great soloist up close, such as Heifetz, you hear a lot of "scratchy" noises. I also appreciate hearing how Hahn plays Sibelius without orchestra.
  13. I love this piece but I wouldn't know how to tell you what Tchaikovsky's conception of it is other than just giving you the score for it. Every performance is an interpretation of the piece or a gloss on it, almost by definition there can be no "perfect" interpretation. Any interpretation gives us more insight into the music.
  14. Beautiful work. Do you like the sound with the "distorted" arching? Are you experimenting to see what the distortion does to the sound? Would you expect the undistorted original-when-new arching would sound better that the current arching? I don't know what to think about this. If age produced distortion makes a wonderful instrument would it be possible that further age and use would push it over the edge to sounding worse?