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Lydia Leong

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Everything posted by Lydia Leong

  1. Towards the hand. You'll find that where you place the index finger affects the degree of rotation of the forearm, which in turn affects the way you apply weight to the strings.
  2. Phoebe, I am puzzled by what you mean by index-finger power vs. leaning into the violin. Presumably, "leaning into the violin" is applying the weight of the arm to the string. This transference of weight rests primarily on the index finger, regardless of the bow hold that you use. The lower contact point of the Russian hold lets you do this more effortlessly, in fact. Some Soviet violinists advocate actually pressing down independently with the index finger, as well. This is not the "Old Russian" way, though. A lot of things go into the total output of energy... and a lot of things determine how much of it you have to begin with. I don't think bowhold makes much, if any, difference. Aggressive players will almost certainly expend more energy, though -- and you can be an aggressive player with any bowhold.
  3. More than that. I tried one a few months ago. If I recall correctly, the dealer wanted $42K for it.
  4. starlight_sweetie, The reason people are reacting to you with skepticism is because it's very commonplace to see, on this board, new members posting, "I found a violin labeled X in my attic, and it's been in my family for generations! How much is it worth?", where X is Stradivari, Guarneri, or some other prominent maker. Most of the time, the truth turns out to be that it's a German-made factory copy from the World War II era, owned by somebody's grandfather and placed in the attic thereafter -- not something genuinely by that maker, handed down over multiple generations. The potential exceptions would be, of course, those with a history of professional violinists in the family, or wealthy amateur-violinist ancestors -- the ones who might logically have purchased such a violin in the past and handed it down through the generations. Certificates, too, can be forged, so people don't always trust them. (A fair number of sellers on eBay, for example, are selling instruments with fake certificates.) But if you have a genuine certificate, and a genuine instrument, you are fortunate enough to have a violin worth in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (and would no doubt be insured for that much). If your grandfather gave it to you, you should play it!
  5. You said you were performing a solo with orchestra, yes? Try Pirastro Olives. I'd be somewhat nervous about performing a solo with gut, personally; they like neither stage lights nor perspiration, both part and parcel of solo performance. Consider Pirastro Obligatos instead. Most of the richness of gut, more power, and excellent stability. Synthetic strings.
  6. This sort of behavior should be discussed with the conductor. The conductor might very well have noticed it anyway -- and might have been waiting to see the reactions of the players involved. (In a youth symphony, anyway.) I had the interesting experience, in high school, of fighting with my stand partner daily over seating, one year. I was the concertmistress. She was rather bitter about this -- not because she played better (she didn't), but because she felt that her popularity amongst the other players entitled her to the first chair, and was older than me by three years. The conductor, as you might imagine, didn't see it her way. However, the conductor never intervened -- until I asked him to. He'd been waiting to see how much I'd tolerate before I stood up for myself, and how far my stand partner would go. (How far she went is a story unto itself.) Also, you never know who is in the audience, even at a school concert. I've had all kinds of surprises -- future teachers, future college admissions officers, future freelance colleagues (and orchestra personnel managers)... bad behavior can come back to haunt someone in the most unexpected ways. Graciousness under fire, too, is a useful and notable skill.
  7. illuminatus, If we got into a general discussion of classical recordings, the discussion would spiral totally out of hand. Violinerrrz, I am not convinced that Shaham and Francescatti wouldn't sound, well, exactly, like Shaham and Francescatti, given different instruments. A good violinist's tone is influenced by his instrument but still recognizably *his* with another one.
  8. Use the vibrato that is appropriate to the tone that you want to produce. This is going to be some combination of arm, wrist, and finger. A good player can mix the three to taste.
  9. Try playing the passage all open strings. (If you cannot do a fast detache' at that speed at all, then you'll need to figure out what's preventing you from doing so. If the passage is fast enough you may end up with the bow bouncing by itself, anyway.) Try slurring four notes to a bow, or eight or even sixteen notes to a bow. This will help you detect any unevenness in your left-hand work (which will ease the later problem of coordinating the left-hand fingers with the rapid bow changes). Try 4+1, i.e., play the four notes of the first group of 16ths plus the first note of the second group, then play the four notes of the second group plus the first note of the third group, etc. Try other rhythms: one long note followed by three fast notes, three fast note followed by a long note, etc. Try working backwards sequentially, so the end of the passage gets as much of a work-out as the beginning of it. i.e., play the last group of four notes. Then play the last eight notes. Then the last twelve notes, etc. Focus on the groups that are causing you the problems, rather than practicing the entire passage repeatedly.
  10. That's an interesting thought: scholarships for purchasing instruments. While I believe there are foundations out there that help young soloists acquire a concert instrument, "scholarships" are an entirely different concept (implying smaller sums of money, as well). Are you looking to spend $5,000? $15,000? $50,000? $500,000? Obviously your options will depend on how much you need to borrow. Got any rich relatives? (I wonder, on a related note, how people feel about going into debt to get an instrument. I wouldn't be willing to, personally -- but I'm not a professional, and I've been lucky... my parents could afford a good instrument for me when I was a kid, and I've been able to since upgrade to a better one on my own.)
  11. Law of supply and demand. Orchestras have a budget of $X, based on what they can obtain from ticket sales and donations. Therefore, a given performer can't be paid more than some fraction of $X, or the orchestra is not financially viable. If performer fees for engagements are to go up, there must either be a big surge in donor money, or a lot more in the way of ticket revenues, either from selling more tickets or selling them at a higher price (likely both). I don't know how recital fees are done, but I'd assume the performer pays for the venue, and then takes the bulk of the revenue from ticket sales. Thus, if they're to get paid more, tickets need to cost more (or more people need to go hear them). Athletes are in an inherently better-funded profession, and thus can make more money. Nobody in this world gets paid what they "deserve". They make whatever money economic realities allow them to.
  12. I find the third movement to be significantly more difficult than the first, but I'm told that most people find the first movement a little bit harder than the third. It all depends on what you are and aren't good at. (For me, playing thirds means constantly repositioning my left hand into all kinds of awkward positions, making double-stop-laden movements like the third a real pain.)
  13. I don't think anyone would advocate using the Suzuki edition, which is outdated.
  14. Vibrato should never distort the core of the note, causing it to go off-pitch. Any halfway competent violinist should be perfectly capable of adjusting his vibrato at the top of the fingerboard, in any event.
  15. RBViolinist, Did they improve enough that you'd considered them to have moved up a price category? (Into the $125K-plus range, say.)
  16. Actually, the Galamian hold is a fusion between the Franco-Belgian and the Russian, though it leans more to the former than the latter. (This is not surprising, since Galamian's training included both traditions.) The Russian bow hold, with its rather heavy weight upon the string and lack of incline to the bow, produces a bigger tone than the Franco-Belgian, but does not allow as flexible of a bow hand as the latter. (A Soviet-trained teacher of mine encouraged me to *press* with the index finger. The "Old Russian" tradition definitely does *not* encourage this, though; you let the arm of the weight settle the bow into the string, and the index finger naturally bears some of this weight transfer.) Think Heifetz, Milstein, Elman, Zimbalist, Seidel, etc. None of them had small tones. The ones who were not aggressive by temperament had beautifully smooth tones. By the way, those fast, light, strokes are exactly what will let you project over an orchestra in a big hall, during soft passages. (In forte passages, too, assuming you're already transfering the weight of the arm as much as possible, more bow is preferable to more pressure, so the note rings and the folks in the nosebleed seats can still hear an articulated and sustained note.) A player should take different sound-production tactics depending on the venue he's in. [This message has been edited by Lydia Leong (edited 11-16-2000).]
  17. The rank-and-file of the major symphonies make salaries that go into the six figures. It's the folks who play with the lesser-known orchestras that subsist off meager salaries. I don't believe, by the way, that the lesser soloists command those kinds of ultra-high concert fees. Second-tier soloists, even ones who have recording contracts, probably make less money than people who've made it to the top of some other profession.
  18. Spooky Mulder: I wonder how much of the failure to project is due to conservatory students being stuck in teeny, cramped, practice rooms, which usually have tile floors and basically function as echo chambers. In such a room, not only do you get forced to play soft in order not to deafen yourself, but you often play soft in such a way that you dampen your resonance, which is crucial to projecting in a hall. I think players also often forget (assuming they're not career soloists, of course) that to play against an orchestra in a big hall, and still be heard, everything has to be exaggerated slightly or it will get lost, and that even when you play soft, you must do so in a way that stll lets you be heard (more bow but less pressure, etc.) JKF: Your statement is HKV-like in its mysterious assertion-without-accompanying-evidence. Please explain what you mean, with examples. I can't say that I've heard intonation problems either on record or live, with current artists.
  19. The plot of Thais is basically this: A monk resolves the convert Thais, a notorious courtesan, to Christianity. He visits her, she listens to him, and spends some time thinking about it. She converts, and goes into a nunnery; the monk realizes at the same time that he's fallen in love with her. Later, the monk confesses this to her, on her deathbed. (Typical opera plot: Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl fall in love. One or both of them die. They take an awful long time to do all of it.) The "Meditation" is Thais' contemplation of the divine.
  20. Are there Strad half-size instruments? I don't believe so. I'm not sure what Sarah Chang's smaller instruments were, but I suspect they were older Italians. (I don't believe there are any excellent modern makers doing commissions of small-sized instruments, though given the number of prodigies out there, one would wonder if there's a market that's untapped.) Obviously, there are both modern and older instruments capable of carrying just fine in a big hall. Some players do a better job of projecting in a big hall than others do. Concert-goers should be aware, though, that natural balance in a hall is enormously different from balance on a recording. The natural balance in the hall is how the composer "intended" for the music to be heard, presumably -- if he'd wanted the soloist further "forward" he'd presumably have cut down the thickness of the orchestral texture somewhat.
  21. Sarah Chang managed, in her childhood, to carry just fine over orchestras, in Romantic concertos, using a half-size violin. I hardly think projection is a problem for her.
  22. If you don't like the basic sound of an instrument, no amount of tweaking is going to make it into something you like. Ditto with responsiveness and projection. Also, shops that sell good instruments normally give the instrument a decent set-up. There's usually some attempt to standardize strings on all of the instruments, so you are comparing instrument sounds and not string sounds. You may later end up tweaking to taste, but the baseline set-up should be fairly good. (I'm not sure I'd want to buy a non-student instrument from a shop that didn't have sufficient competence to set up an instrument decently!) I'd suggest telling a dealer that $X is the most you want to spend, and ask to try a wide range of instruments from just slightly over what your current instrument is worth, to $X. (It may be worthwhile to ask the dealer to throw in some instruments that are the next price category up from $X, too, so you know what you're missing or not missing.)
  23. sm, What about the complexity of, say, a Mahler symphony? (Or the complexity of a late Brahms work?)
  24. You're hearing the sound directly as it emerges from the violin. The listeners are hearing it from a distance, so the sound waves have farther to travel; they're also hearing the sound as it is reflected off the various surfaces in the room. Many violin shops, by the way, have try-out rooms that are practically echo chambers. Don't trust what you hear in there too much (or at least play your instrument for a bit in them to "calibrate" the acoustics). I wouldn't say, by the way, that what you hear vs. what the listener hears is VERY different. Basic qualities like timbre remain more or less the same -- if it's bright under your ear, it will be bright to a listener, too. The "loudness" of the instrument under the ear, and its actual projection at a distance, can be totally different, though. (Projection is more than just volume at a distance, too -- the tone colors need to remain varied, and the notes clear, at a distance.) My approach to finding instruments is first finding violins that I like under my ear -- I'm going to be the one listening to it day after day, so regardless of how wonderful it might be for the audience, I have to love the sound under the ear, too. Then, have someone else play the ones you like. Most shops have someone there who's able to play quite well, and who can play things for you. Try to stand at a bit of a distance, though even just a few feet away in the same room will still sound different than under the ear. (Idiosyncracies of players certainly do affect sound, though, so beware of that, too.) Then, take your favorite trial instrument to your usual haunts: orchestra practice, chamber music gathering, fiddle jam, whatever. Make sure you like what you hear in there, too. (And hand it to other people to play!) Also: If you're moving up in price range, you'll end up playing a certain number of violins before you start to "adjust" to the improved tone and response. You have to adopt a new frame of reference, rather than thinking, "This is all great!" because it's better than what you have now. [This message has been edited by Lydia Leong (edited 11-14-2000).]
  25. The stories of Vengerov and his forcefulness have been commented on in both Strings and Strad. It's entirely possible that he's altered his bowing technique sufficiently, in the recent past, to make this no longer the case -- Vengerov commented in a recent article that the way he was playing was altering as a result of his Baroque playing. By the way, I think what you hear on record is misleading, tonally -- the very close miking of Sarah Chang and Itzhak Perlman in recent recordings, for instance, results in rather more string noise than would be heard in a concert hall. What you *see* on videotape, though, makes technical approach pretty clear. Aggressive players presumably play that way because they like the tonal results. One should definitely not assume that such players take this approach because they're deficient in some way. (Based on what I've heard on record, Vengerov is certainly capable of varying his tone to match the situation: compare the forcefulness of his Shostakovich No. 1 to his smoother delivery of the Mendelssohn, for instance.) The Russians aren't the only ones with forceful styles, though. I saw Jamie Laredo play the Bruch No. 1 a couple of weeks ago, and he was tearing hairs off his bow at every opportune moment. [This message has been edited by Lydia Leong (edited 11-13-2000).]
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