Herman West

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About Herman West

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  1. Probably the Brahms e-minor (the opening) is just a very good way to assess the abilities and weaknesses of an instrument one's unfamiliar with. GBS was a writer who could write entertainingly about music, and pose as a 'personality' by indulging his prejudices. That doesn't really make him a music critic (unless one has a very low bar). He played into the British prejudices rather massively, and had a big impact on the appreciation of Brahms and a couple other German style composers in the English speaking world. This notion that Brahms is just mathematically sorting out themes or motivs and never writes pleasing lilting music (as if that's what one's required to do) is largely coming from that place. The funny thing of course is that this description would fit Beethoven to a T, but somehow Beethoven was okay with the British. The other funny thing is Brahms is one of the most prolific song / Lieder writers and wrote tons of lilting melodies, including the opening of the e-minor cello sonata. Apart from professional writers writing concert reviews (or records reviews) just to get free records / tickets, there is the aforementioned "music reviewer" who likes to go to ballet performances for free and thus becomes a ballet critic. Both these types have been a blight on the business, just by writing a lot of stupid stuff and being very influential by virtue of writing well. Music criticism in popular media has progressed enormously since GBS's time, though obviously those days are gone now, with good music critics (who have gone to Music School and can sightread scores etc) having been fired to accomodate the owners of the newspapers and magazines. All that doesn't mean that GBS's music pieces aren't fun to read, as a window into a time long gone. PS Brahms wrote just three (3) string quartets, so it's not like it's a Herculean effort to tell them apart - and they are each quite different. What you were doing here is a time-honored British "gentleman critic" thing: acting as if ignorance is a virtue. Most quartets by any composer feature contrapuntal activity, it's part of the genre. Mozart's Prussians do it all the time, too.
  2. obviously the solution is putting an obscure piece you happen to like on youtube (preferably prefaced by making some "hilarious" faces like the twopiece guys). In concert hall performance the repertoire has been shrinking for, like, two generations now, down to four violin concertos, six piano concertos and of course the Alla Turca encore. Can't leave without playing that one. People won't even listen before this.
  3. and it's not like this is the last and only 1850 - 1900 German fiddle one can get hold of...
  4. `Needless to say, the way a violin sounds (and this is a recording!) is also determinded by who's playing it and by the nature and quality of the bow. So those are a lot of variables. The way you can control those variables is to go down to a violin shop and try a bunch of fiddles and focus on the ones you like.
  5. if you stare at it all day it does drive you crazy, so the complainant has a point.
  6. in that case the violin would need to be lost or stolen in time before the phone's battery runs out, and one of the main reasons why people buy a new phone is the previous one had gotten a short battery life...
  7. and if you take this instrument to a reputable luthier please ask him to remove those iron finetuners, as those are likely to damage the varnish, if not the wood.
  8. I hadn't seen the phrase "tiger flame"or ditto wood in a long time. These words make violin sellers very happy.
  9. in other sad cello news, the longtime cellist of the Amadeus Quartett, Martin Lovett (the sole surviving member, up till today), died this morning, at age 93.
  10. I listened to the op 11 Quintet, which takes an awful long time to get to the point. However it may be totally enjoyable music for a read through together.
  11. well, November is a long time ahead...
  12. As far as I know there are not going to be any concerts in the foreseeable future, so what would people be rehearsing for? The online concerts we're seeing are from the archives.
  13. I think if the gravestone had just said "Jacqueline Du Pre" plus two dates, visitors would still have known this was JdP's grave. This looks like a gratuitous posthumous act of appropriation. Yes, in a lot of cases the name of the husband was mentioned on gravestones, but that was because wives (dead or alive) used to take a subsidiary role. This doesn't apply in this case. To return to the original point, yes, her playing was wonderful, even though I don't think she "owns" the Elgar or anything. I'm not too thrilled by the Marilyn Monroe equation. Part of JdP's fame may be due to the fact she often wore her hair long and free and the whole Sixties thing, but I would hope that that doesn't bowl over people any longer, decades later.
  14. Because those big steel finetuners often scratch the varnish when you're changing strings.
  15. you need to get rid of those steel finetuners quick.