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Toscha's Achievements


Enthusiast (5/5)

  1. I just found and bought a new CD and a DVD by Ivry Gitlis. The CD contains all 24 caprices of Paganini that he recorded back in 1976 that has been languishing behind the vault for 30 years! According to the liner notes, Gitlis was originally dissatisfied with the recording and refused to release them, although many of his distinguished friends (including Argerich and Mehta) thought very highly of the recording. They are great performances. Probably one of the best, alongside with Perlman, Rabin, Markov, and Ricci (1949 version). Gitlis takes surprisingly few wild liberties that has been associated with him, but still manages to give a devil-may-care interpretation. He also plays with great charm and humor, especially nos.7, 13 and 21. The DVD contains performances from 1960s to the early 1970s. Gitlis is in fine form and plays: Tchaikovsky concerto, Wieniawski Caprice-Valse and Polonaise No.1, Elgar La Capricieuse among others. Gitlis' bowing technique is staggering. He probably has one of the fastest(yet VERY clear)up and down-bow staccatos that I have ever seen and has ability to play with the kind of clarity that one would only associates with Heifetz and Milstein. Both the CD and DVD have not been released in the U.S. (which I find it absolutely scandalous), but they are available in Europe and Japan. If one is an avid Gitlis fan, DON'T MISS these! T.
  2. Currently, Christian Ferras playing the Bach Sonatas and Partitas, and Wiener Musikverein Quartett playing the Beethoven quartets. The Ferras recording is superb. He plays with such a gorgeous sound and fine sense of style (in the old school manner). I almost like his recording as well as Enescu, Menuhin, Grumiaux and Heifetz. The Vienese ensemble plays with purity of sound and sense of very well-integrated ensemble. Tempi are well-chosen overall (with occasional surprises, most notably the very fast 4th movement of op.59, no.3). There are plenty of elegance as well as power. I always had a soft spot for Vienna-based quartets (such as the Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet, the Barylli, the Boskovsky and the Weller)and this one is not an exception. But, tomorrow the CD player will have something else in it. I don't usually listen to the same CDs over and over. T.
  3. I took a look at recordings I have, but with the exception of Dumay/Pires/Wang which clearly states that it is using the revision, all the other recordings I have just mention that Brahms revised the trio later in his life and do not specifically state the choice of the versions. My guess is that unless a recording specifically says that it is using the first version, you can probably assume that most recordings use the revision. I do have quite a few, including the two Rubinstein recordings. I prefer the earlier one with Heifetz and Feuermann because I feel that the later one is a little excessively heavy at times. I do have a problem with the earlier one as well. The first movement is, I feel, over-driven. The later movements are superb, though. Two recordings I remember with fondness are Fischer/Schneiderhan/Mainardi and Istomin/Stern/Rose versions. The former has such a special atmosphere, and Mainardi's first entrance is exquisite. And the string players blends the sound in such a way that one almost lose track of each instruments. Fischer's playing has a few rough spots, but he is unfailingly tasteful. The Stern recording is also superb, with Rose playing absolutely beautifully. Then there are two recordings that involves Casals. The earlier one (1952) with Stern and Hess is better played, instrumentally, although I find the later one (1955) with Istomin and Menuhin musically more rewarding, especially Menuhin's committed playing (even if the second movement is less than pristine). There is also a recording by Schnabel/Szigeti/Fournier. It must have been an interesting performance, but the sound is well below the standard of the day and even I have trouble sitting through the recording (I am far more tolerant about older sound than just about everybody on this board). It is regretful that the sound is so poor, for Schnabel was a superb Brahms player and Fournier was in top form then. I also heard Previn/Mullova/Schiff, Dumay/Pires/Wang, Olevsky Trio, Frankl/Pauk/Kirshbaum and Badura-Skoda/Jean Fournier/Janigro as well. The Olevsky left me with the strongest impression, then followed by the Badura-Skoda (spiritual descendant of the Fischer recording), and the Frankl. The Previn and Dumay did not leave me with much of an impression. Perhaps I should listen to them again. It has been sometime since I have listen to those. Too bad that there is no Corot/Thibaud/Casals recording for this piece. That would have been superb. T.
  4. I left out a few important ones. Shame on me... Here we go: Grumiaux Szeryng Prihoda Quiroga Frank Peter Zimmermann Barylli Ricci (before 1975 or so) T.
  5. Heifetz did have superb technique, but what REALLY made him special was his amazing creativity in terms of violinistic nuances. Very often he would not play exactly the same way in repeated phrases and also if one listens to his recordings very carefully, he does not do what people expect, be it be rubato, glissandi or changing the tone color. He really thought out his interpretations for every piece he played without losing freshness. It is true that many of the violinists today have smooth, well-polished sound, but I feel that finer NUANCES that made Heifetz, Kreisler, Thibaud, Enescu etc. special is very often missing. Also, apart from Kremer, Kantorow and Gitlis, I do not feel much of demonic drive that Heifetz had. One of the hallmark of Heifetz was his devil-may-care risk-taking. He was NOT afraid of playing with aggressive sound if he felt that the music demanded, rather than playing with merely a "pretty" tone. Of course, Heifetz was fully capable of playing with ravishing tone. Just listen to his recording of Saint-Saens "Havanaise" or "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. The elegance and suavity he plays these works have not been matched in my opinion (and yes, I have heard MANY). I just wanted to emphasize the fact that what made Heifetz special was the combination of superb technique and creative musicianship. Emotional nostalgia? I don't think so! T.
  6. If one were to listen to Menuhin playing Paganini, listen to his recording of the first concerto with Monteux (1934). He was only 18, but he played with maturity and virtuosity of a veteran as well as dashing youthfulness. It is among two of my favorite recordings of the concerto (the other being Gitlis). The other amazing recording is his recording of "Moto Perpetuo" (1934). But I usually prefer to listen to his recordings of pieces that are not overtly virtuostic. What I really like about his playing is his imaginative way of phrasing that makes the violin "sing", something he inherited from his beloved teacher, Enescu, and sets him apart from fingerboard gymnasts without his musical imagination. T.
  7. First, I see a few errors in the thread, so I will point out. Menuhin's first recording of the Mendelssohn concerto was done in 1938 when he was 22, NOT 16. He did record the BRUCH No.1 when he was 15 and the Elgar at 16. Hey, Lymond, Ferras was a violinist, so, he could not have recorded the Brahms No.2 with Menuhin. He recorded the complete set of sonatas with Kentner in 1956-8. Or did you mean the Bach Double with Menuhin and Ferras? For the Bach Double with Menuhin, the most interesting one is by far the one with Enescu. Sure the recording is old (1932), but Enescu had the most striking musical personality among the violinists Menuhin recorded this work. And also, Enescu was in his prime when he recorded, unlike his later set of the solo sonatas and partitas. By the way, Menuhin/Kentner recording of the Brahms second is a good recording, though I still prefer Busch/Serkin, Kulenkampf/Solti and Hetzel/Deutsch recordings. If one is used to hearing smooth, sweet and clean violin sound of these days, Menuhin's sound may sound a little abrasive, especially in his later years. However, even at his technical worst, Menuhin's playing had his own personality. It is a distinct style that if one is familiar with his playing, it is immediately recognizable, just like the playings of Kreisler, Heifetz, Thibaud, Gitlis etc. At his best, he was as good as any. His recordings up to about 1940 or so are absolutely staggering violinistically as well as (with a few exceptions) musically. After that, he was not as consistent violinistically, however, his musicianship definitely developed and if one would compare his recordings of the Beethoven or Brahms sonatas from his youth and from 1950s, the later one has more color and depth. Menuhin had a slight tendency to overdrive in his youth, but by 1950s, he became more thoughtful about pacing and let the music to relax when needed. The other interesting thing about Menuhin is his almost devil-may-care choices of his fingerings. He did not always choose the "logical" fingering. Instead, sometimes he would choose to do "crazy" fingerings in order to achieve the sound he strived for. The risk did not always come off (unlike Heifetz's risk-taking), but when he pulled it off, the results were often stunning. I have studied the Brahms concerto with his fingerings and bowings and was impressed by his creative solutions to passages. In terms of the playing posture, Menuhin had a beautiful playing posture in his youth. He was not someone who would move around excessively like many of the soloists today. I personally prefer postures like Heifetz, Oistrakh or Thibaud who hardly moved. One should express the musical feeling with their PLAYING, not by acting out! Liking or not liking a violinist is a personal choice (and there are some fine violinists that I somehow cannot warm up to), but calling one "sucks", I am not so sure. If a violinist really "sucks", he/she would simply not make it to the rank of internationally acclaimed soloists. Menuhin may not have maintained the incredible standard he himself had set back in the 1930s, but he always played with sincerity and honest musicianship, without any affectations. T.
  8. I don't agree with DVD being more real than sound recordings. Of course images can be edited if one wish to do so. How do you think movies are made(I am NOT talking about home-made movies obviously)? They are not made of a single "take." And, some of the live "sound" recordings are rather dubious in nature as well. For example, Horowitz's 1965 Carnegie Hall concert had a few portions of "retakes" inserted because Horowitz was not happy about the result. If one wants to hear real "unedited" recordings, one should listen to recordings originated from 78s (shellac discs) when splicing technique was not available. T.
  9. Rossini: I still very much like the old Toscanini/New York Phil recording the best. Toscanini had uncanny knack for Rossini (and other Italian music) and his recording of this overture is simply staggering in terms of drive, liveliness and cantabile quality. I have yet to hear anyone coming even close to this recording, including Toscanini's later version which seems stiff by comparison. The recording is certainly not new (1936), but clear enough to hear his concept of this piece. Beethoven: Frankly, I have not heard the symphony in long time (I used to listen to it all the time when I was in my teens, then got tired of hearing it). Back then, I went back and forth between the post-war Toscanini (1952) and Furtwangler (1947). Now, I would probably prefer Szell for clear-headed approach. Or Knappertsbusch for his notoriously quirky ideas. The other two pieces I cannot help you. R. Strauss bores me to tears and I have little sympathy for Ravel except "Tzigane." (I do like Debussy in general, though). T.
  10. I don't have the Tuttle recording but I do have the Primrose recording. It seems to me that they are playing the same one indeed. The divertimento in question was orginally transcribed by Gregor Piatigorsky for cello and piano and later adapted for viola by Henri Elkan (my viola-piano copy is published by Elkan-Vogel Inc. a subsidiary of the Theodore Presser Company). Primrose however does not follow Elkan's edition in terms of register. He plays many passages an octave higher than the Elkan edition. There is also a recording by Piatigorsky himself. His performance has been reissued on Biddulph LAB 117 (don't know the current availability). Hope this helps. T.
  11. There are also recordings by Elman (two versions), Peter Rybar, Leonid Kogan and Grumiaux as well. Rybar recording is not on CD, but I have seen others being reissued on CD at one point or the other. T.
  12. Kreisler/Rachmaninoff recordings were made in 1928, not 1938. However, Kreisler recorded the complete set with Franz Rupp in 1935-36. Although the security of Kreisler's intonation was not as reliable as in his 1920s recordings, they are still marvellously warm and enjoyable by any standard, and Rupp's contribution should not be overlooked either. He was a fine musician with keen sense of ensemble, rather than diligent but unimaginateve accompanist (such as Emmanuel Bay in the Heifetz set). I find it impossible to single out a set as the definitive or best since all the sonatas are quite different in characters. Some does very well in the early sonatas (such as Boskkovsky/Kraus, Francescatti/Casadesus and Grumiaux Haskil), others in more dramatic, bigger sonatas (such as Heifetz/Bay, Kremer/Argerich and Pamela & Claude Frank). Ideally, one should own more than one set. It is much more enjoyable that way. I will list three of my "current" (it may change tomorrow. I am fickle) favorites for each sonatas. If you don't agree with my choices, it just means you have a different taste from mine. Nobody is correct in this regard. In no particular order: No.1 Kreisler/Rupp, Kremer/Argerich, Boskovsky/Kraus No.2 Kreisler/Rupp, Francescatti/Casadesus, Kremer/Argerich No.3 Heifetz/Bay (2nd recording), Grumiaux/Haskil, Kreisler/Rupp No.4 Kreisler/Rupp, Grumiaux/Haskil, Mutter/Oakis No.5 Kreisler/Rupp, Szigeti/Schnabel, Morini/Firkusny No.6 Kreisler/Rupp, Heifetz/Bay, Grumiaux/Haskil No.7 Menuhin/Kentner, Szeryng/Reiner (live), Heifetz/Bay No.8 Kreisler/Rachmaninoff, Busch/Serkin, Szeryng/Rubinstein No.9 Gitlis/Argerich, Huberman/Friedman, Thibaud/Cortot No.10 Szigeti/Schnabel, Mutter/Oakis, Menuhin/Gould T.
  13. quote: Originally posted by: con_ritmo I'm with Toscha on this. Get a metronome that can subdivide. A set of strings would cover the difference in price. There is no excuse not to. edit: and yes, i know there are ethnomusic cultures that have superb rhythm as well...simply due to their culture and upbringing. but how much pride does someone have to actually say... "i won't buy/use a subdividing metronome because others ended up fine without one..." ??? Great post! I totally agree with you, con_ritmo. I just cannot stand people who thinks they can be just fine without a subdividing metronome because others ended up fine without one. If one has rhythmical/technical problems, he/she needs to practice with metronome. Whether one ultimately has to play with absolute evenness is totally depending on context. From my teaching experiences, I find that people who practice regularly with a subdividing metronome has better sense of rhythm, even when they use rubato because I suspect that they know where they are departing from, rhythmically. T.
  14. I installed the Brilliant set on my Sergio Peresson about 2 weeks ago. It took some time for them to settle since the Peresson is my second fiddle and I probably did not play on it long enough (I normally play on Francois Pique). But they finally start to feel more settled. I love the E string. It is probably my favorite E of all time. It is brilliant, yet silken, all the way up, so it is actually fun playing 4 octave scales and some very high notes. The G string I find it a little tricky since I am used to Evah Pirazzi. It is far more responsive, especially in soft dynamics. It seems to require very precise bow strokes to get the best out of it, in that way reminds me of the Olive a bit. One thing I am very happy about it is its extremely quick response, and the strings really opened up the sound of instrument. I tried the Karneols on the Pique, but this was not a good match. The sound is too tight and small, but I just ordered another set of the Brilliant, so I will try the set when I get them. I also recommended my sister to try the Brilliant on her (actually my own but on loan to her) Josef Gagliano. The instrument immediately opened up and lost some of the annoying nasal quality, especially when I tried with my Voirin. T.
  15. quote: Originally posted by: chronos The presence of rubato in old recordings is a stylistic choice corresponding to that particular period and not the product of inaccurate timekeeping. You don't think I am NOT aware of this? I am familiar with most of the important historical violin recordings (or for the matter of fact, cellists, pianists and conductors as well) in case you have not read any of my previous posts on violinists. I am absolutely aware of how people played in old recordings. Well, I did state my opinion about my choice of metronome based on my professional experience. Whether to listen to my opinion or not is one's choice. Bye. T.
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