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Posts posted by gowan

  1. On 5/6/2021 at 8:20 AM, Stephen Fine said:

    I'm learning a new part; in the past, I've sight-read it a couple times for fun, but now I'm plunking down real fingerings and trying to figure out how it all lines up ahead of the first rehearsals next month.

    What a good piece!  I stumbled on this video recording and had to listen because Amihai Grosz is one of my favorite players right now.  He didn't disappoint.  They all did such a nice job with balance; really remarkable how clear their performance is.  I need to break out a score and take some notes.


    I also love the  piano quintet.  It is a wonderful piece for the violist, especially the second (Dumky) movement :)

  2. When people have been marginalized or even excluded from a society, it isn't surprised to see them reject the culture of the oppressors.  As for "classical" music there is much appreciation by members of minority groups, for example many African-American jazz musicians appreciate the materials of classical music.  There are music conservatories that offer studies from outside the classical mainstream, such as Berklee College of Music in Boston, and there are others. 

  3. If you visit almost any violin shop, even high level ones, you will find many violins hanging by the scroll or in open cubbies, exposed to the air of the room.   Obviously, leaving an instrument out of its case is more risky than its being snuggly in its case, but if you are careful not to leave  the instrument on the seat of a chair or couch or randomly on the floor it should be fairly safe.  To keep it clean wipe it regularly with a dry soft cloth.

  4. Regarding managers requiring musicians to use, for example, wooden or brown instruments, has been known at every level of orchestra.  At the top level I have heard of players auditioning for the top orchestras being told by the music director to get a better instrument.  As for appearance, violists who play a Pelegrina, made by David Rivinus , have been told not to use that instrument because it looks so unusual.  I can understand that because management wouldn't want a single strange looking instrument to stand out from the orchestra.  As for blending and allowing a player to use any "fiddle" they might happen to have, how about an electronic violin, solid body or skeleton body, with amplifier and speakers?  Also, blending can be too much.  Some professional quartet had a matching quartet built for them by a well known luthier, all the instruments by the same maker and purposely designed to match.  Ironically the quartet members gave up their specially built instruments, partly because some individuals didn't like their particular ones but also because the instruments were too similar and didn't allow for variety in expression.

  5. The chin rest is on the wrong side of the violin, too.  I've never seen a chin rest that fits on that side of the instrument.  Maybe this is a "left handed" violin.  I wondered if the image had been "mirrored" but the arrangement of the pegs is normal.  Some people like to play baroque music on a modern violin using a Baroque style bow, especially in the case of Bach.  I guess it makes the Bach triple stops easier to play and same for some string crossing patterns.

  6. When you go to a maker (bow or violin) you will be asked how you play and what you want out of the bow.  If you have never played a Baroque style bow you won't be able to say how you play with a Baroque bow.  A Baroque style bow from a respected modern maker will cost the same as a modern style bow from the same maker, i.e. thousands of dollars.  Personally I would be reluctant to spend so much on something I know so little about.  I would recommend getting an inexpensive bow, something like what Shar sells (under $200).  If you use such a bow enough to appreciate the difference between Baroque and modern style you would be in a position to make judgments about more expensive, better, bows.  I was happy to see David Hawthorne mentioned in a post above.  The late Judson Griffin was a well respected early music musician in the New York City area and he owned Bows by Hawthorne which he strongly recommended.

  7. 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 would be nice if, when I can no longer play the instrument, it could be sold for a good price but the market is so changeable due, for example, to flooding by Chinese instruments, I could not count on future prices.

  8. 15 hours ago, Andres Sender said:

    The more historical the equipment, the easier it is to explore subtleties of historical performance practice.  You can play idiomatically on the right violin in modern setup, but you will end up with a different kind of sound and a different range of articulation.  These videos may help give an idea, although you'll have to read past the different recording environments.  Pine is of course playing on a really good instrument in modern setup and modern strings, she's using a very heavy 'baroque' bow.  Sato is using a much more historical setup and beyond the fact that their conceptions of the piece are different you can hear that they are each working with a different palette of tone and articulation.


    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 Sato does.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 19 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

    I’m not sure how to verbalize this effectively, but the fact that I can go to YouTube and find technically perfect performances of almost anything I care to name Takes a lot of the fun out of the performance.

    ”why care when it’s everywhere?”



    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 classical music performance, come to our concerts because a neighbor or friend is playing.  That way people unfamiliar with classical music can get a sample of it and may develop an interest in it that way.  There is a third class professional orchestra with a performance venue 45 minutes away from us but beginners don't want to drive that far and don't want to pay the ticket prices, let alone the ticket price for the Boston Symphony.  So our community orchestra with mostly amateur players in a high school auditorium does offer something that the Boston Symphony can't.  It could happen in the future that climate change and air pollution might make it undesirable to travel to distant concerts.  Then we will have to enjoy what we can get.  For me, playing music is better than just listening, and I can play without any serious travel.  Even listening to CD's on high quality electronics is not a substitute for live concerts, but they offer a variety of music that would not be available in live concerts.

  13. 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 music opportunities.  If I lived in an area where there was little available in live classical music concerts maybe I'd make vacation trips devoted to hearing music. 

  14. On 12/5/2020 at 3:24 AM, matesic said:

    The defence makes the prosecutor's case perfectly. Even after a thousand hearings of the piece I still think Tchaikovsky's conception is a thing of beauty that shouldn't be defiled.

    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.

  15. On 11/28/2020 at 12:55 PM, Guy Harrison said:

    Thanks Andreas.  The changes are mostly to the long arch of the front. The original arching of the Stradivari violin I'm copying is quite high in the upper and lower bouts of the front. Some of this is distortion but it was probably made fairly high as well.   

    So for the next violin I'm making now, I've made the arching a little higher in the upper and lower bouts. Still lower than the slightly distorted arching the original violin now has.  My motivation is to find an arching that of course I think works well for sound plus one that I feel is close to the arching the original violin may have had when new. These changes are small and I'm only talking about ± 0.5mm but it's noticeable visual difference.   I hope that explains my thoughts! 


    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?

  16. @Bill Merkel  When I've gone to medical offices or hospitals during the pandemic I have not been allowed to use my own mask, no one is.  They hand out disposable mask when you enter and they are not N95 masks.  I think I understand why they do this: used masks can become loaded with virus particles and thus become worse than wearing no mask.

  17. 56 minutes ago, Rue said:

    I haven't embraced on-line performances to date. I just can't take YouTube type venues seriously. I see them as a necessary evil of sorts and I think when we return to a "new normal", there will be much more on-line everything.

    Personal preferences aside, in an attempt to keep current, I "attended" my first live symphony performance last night. I locked myself in my office, dimmed the lights, got comfy in my comfy chair...and watched...

    Total disconnect. :mellow:

    The music was fine. The videography was fine. But I just couldn't get into it. I think, in part, it was because I had no control over what I was looking at. I had to be on board with what the videographer was showing me. So I was living their reality and not my own.

    There were some 300+ viewers. I wonder how many actually paid attention? I did my best to stay focused, I didn't wander off, or take a potty break...but how many did?

    Similarly with my weekly lessons. They are fine, but I'm demotivated. I'm now trying to work up some enthusiasm for our Xmas recital. My teacher will email me her duet part, and I will record myself as I play along with it. But it’s somehow just not "real" and/or compelling.

    Our community orchestra rehearsals were supposed to start up again last week, but haven't. This week there are new covid restrictions in place, so who knows what will happen. Also demotivating. We are looking at a live streaming format of some kind...yippee...

    I  realize everyone is in the same boat, and that options are limited or non-existent, but it's all just very ...I don't even have a adequate descriptor...best I can come up with is





    Yes, it is sad  not to be able to attend live performances or play with other people.  Watching and listening on-line is better than having no way to listen to the music.  I agree that you lose the emotional connection with the performer.  I have spent countless hours listening to music on records and can have an emotional response that way.  I have seen a number of Metropolitan Opera live streaming performances.  Considering the difficulty of seeing such a performance live in person in the opera hall, I am grateful for this opportunity.  And with the Met streaming, I get some things I would not get were I to attend a performance in the hall, such as better view and interviews with the stars.  One aspect of this situation is so-called Zoom (or screen) overload.  Watching a computer screen for a long time takes a toll on our visual apparatus.  If I am on line for hours working, I am unlikely to want to watch the screen in the evening.  As a player, I miss my regular chamber music and orchestra  sessions.  Playing with a group on line has its own difficulties in the form of needing software and equipment to make it possible to play together.  Zoom is not very useful for this, too much latency and feedback.  Better experiences can be had with software like Jamkazam or Jamulus but they need the users to avoid latency as much as possible and might require an upgrade of your computer, an ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router, and a good microphone.  I was a child during the years before the development of effective polio vaccines.  I remember not being allowed to go to playgrounds or the beach in summer.   Now polio has almost been eliminated.  There will be vaccines for COVID-19 eventually.  We just have to wait to learn how well they will work and for how long the immunity they give will last.  Just hang on and stay safe.

  18. As an amateur player I enjoy playing string quartets.  One day our quartet ventured to play something really difficult, Beethoven opus 130.  At the end someone said "Well Beethoven must be turning in his grave after that".  I responded, saying "If Beethoven didn't want people to play it he shouldn't have published it."  Kopatchinskaja certainly has an idiosyncratic approach to  her work.  I find it interesting, drawing my attention to things I hadn't previously considered, not just the score but also the sounds of the instrument.  Many soloists play the "received" interpretation, according to Carl Stross.  For me that is somewhat uninspiring.  I might appreciate aspects of the performance but it doesn't make me rethink the piece, as Kopatchinskaja's does.

    As for her bare feet and her "distressed" garb,  I think she's thumbing her nose at the women soloists who wear stiletto heels and strapless gowns.  I am sure that bare feet on the floor makes a better connection and sense of balance than wearing high heels, and strapless gowns draw the attention to the soloist's body rather than the music.