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Everything posted by stewarts

  1. The background clip sounds lovely indeed. Does anyone recognize what it is? Personally I think it's misleading to use a clip that's not his playing in a website about his teaching. Other than that I have nothing against him teaching beginners (ABRSM Grade 1-Grade 5). The conservatory certification from Trinity college is actually a popular certification among advanced amateurs in Hong Kong. He didn't indicate which level of diploma he got so I assume it's the lowest level, putting him equivalent to a freshman conservatory student. As for orchestras, well, SAR Philharmonic is a curious name. (There is only one professional orchestra in Hong Kong called Hong Kong Philharmonic. Hong Kong is otherwise known as HKSAR. Calling an amateur group SAR Philharmonic just sounds a bit silly.)
  2. To be fair, this probably took a lot more work to make than a normal violin does. If you don't think of it as a musical instrument but just a piece of art, well, it can command just about any price in principle.
  3. I've seen many free violin etude videos, including those by the "Chinese Galamian" Prof. Lin, on a Chinese violin discussion board (with general disregard for copyright they are quite easy to find ) For me, the Chinese videos are not bad but not terrific either. One time I bought the Kreutzer videos taught by a famous Shanghai prof and it turned out to be mostly demonstrations (perfectly in tune but boring ones) with little explanations. Prof. Lin from Beijing talks a lot more in his video, but he likes to use vague words (he even makes up rhymes about violin techniques!). An example off the top of my head would be something like "the core principles here are synchronization (left and right hand), smoothness (shifting), softness, precision, closeness (between successive notes)"... I mean they are useful the first time you hear them, but after a certain point they don't really help any more. There is no doubt Prof. Lin's students are superb (given they are the creme de la creme in China). But the quality of his teaching videos is still behind, say, those on violinmasterclass.com by Prof. S., whose tips are a bit more concrete. Stewart
  4. I hope your exam went well - I too have taken RCM Grade 8 (and barely passed but that was a long time ago) so I understand what you mean. A note on the scales: I know how boring it could be, but when you get to listen to pro-level players practice their scales, you'd amazed by how impressive it sounds and it'd feel very different. Just a few days ago, I was watching the Heifetz masterclass videos, and Heifetz even asked Erick Freidman to play a C-major scale twice! Once you hear that kind of amazingly solid and confident "C-major scales", you'd find scale practicing to be a lot more interesting. As for aural skills (intervals recognition etc), you'd recognize the dire need for those when you start to play with friends in ensembles. Trust me, it's a horrible feeling to hear yourself play out of tune with others but not know what went wrong.
  5. I'm surprised no one mentioned Dumay. As a set it is at least the modern equivalent of Oistrakh's. His interpretation is the most dramatic of everything I've heard and it works surprisingly well.
  6. Hi Violinity - I have tried Presto Ovation recently and here is my impression. Compared to for example Coda bows, which I tried a long time ago, it seems to feel less like a pernambuco bow (not necessarily in a bad way). The stick appears very soft but it bounces very easily. This should be a good attribute but it just has this slightly unnatural feel to me. In terms of the sound, I'd say it's okay, quite smooth and focused, but not really impressive. What I was least happy with is the appearance. The ovation model tried to "look expensive" (the pictures are nice as you can see from Shar's catalog) but it looks cheap on a closer inspection. In overall I'd say it's definitely worth $300, but you can try out other bows such as Coda Conservatory, Musicary and the Jean Dom Adam (Finkel shop) pernambuco bow as well if that's your budget and you're ordering from Shar.
  7. Thanks violinissimo for your clips. If I may make a suggestion, I feel that you could try broader/longer phrasings and make the notes more "connected". You have a great tone and the way you play should sound good under ear, but in front of a bigger audience or in recording, longer phrasing comes out a lot better IMHO. Right now it sounds a bit as if you're afraid of drawing too much bow as well. It's more ok in Butterfly Lovers (since Erhu has short phrasings too - and btw your coordination with the midi is amazing!) but it really makes a difference in pieces like the Mendelssohn 2nd mov. Just my two cents.
  8. I remember hearing about a violin maker on radio in HK many years ago whose name sounds like "Chen Jin-long". Is he by any chance the maker who carves fancy embellishment on the back of some violins and writes papers about how the natural frequencies of the front and back should match? Quote: Correction about the spelling of my violin. it should be "Chen Jin-nong". I speak two different Chinese language everyday commuting between ShenZhen and Hong Kong. You can tell where people are from the way they say "ShenZhen" or else "ShumChun". So I may spell the name differently everyday (:
  9. I think she's much better than she was in 2003 too! I'm a big fan of Ysaye sonatas, and I've been quite sold on Venegerov's interpretation, yet I still find her (different) interpretation convincing overall. How much is she relying on her teacher these days? If she's already coming up with musical ideas mostly by herself, I hope she'll continue to develop them! What the musical world needs are violinists with distinctive musical personalities and Julliard grads who can break away from the Julliard mold. Some specific comments, which she is welcome to shrug off : There are two spots where I feel that she should play even softer to create contrast. The first place is around the first "Poco meno". (4 min-ish into the clip). From two bars before it, the following six bars with double stops (before the cresc.) can be lighter and dreamier. The second spot is a few more bars after that, at the "dolce con express." (the whole "Poco meno e grazioso" section until "a Tempo"). The melody comes out again there, and it should be achingly beautiful. I wish she can play softer, linger more and explore more there. One last commment about the last page. Venegerov's interpretation is that he starts slowly accelerating and building up the incredible tension from "Tempo poco piu vivo e hen marcato" all the way to the end, taking the audience on a crazy wild ride. What Esther did instead is she makes the sections very separate and create a lot of articulation, which also works very well in my opinion. The slight problem I hear is that the very last three bars sounds a bit weak. I think no matter how you decide to execute the last page, the wild ride has to take the audience somewhere with a sense of direction. One option perhaps is just to play the last three bars as fast as possible without letting go the tension built up from "poco a poco slargando". Thanks for the great clip and for bearing with my rambling. Stewart
  10. I'm a little surprised Toscha didn't mention Milstein in his list (In fact even his namesake didn't make to the list ). As for personality, wouldn't Milstein be someone who's both amiable and technically on par (however different in style) with Heifetz? S.
  11. I thought simple counterexamples would solve the dispute. sara, have you ever tried the chinese violins by the shop of Scott Cao (his main shop is in Campbell, CA, but he has factories in China) and the Jay Haide series of Ifshin violins (Berkeley, CA)? Those are the best violins I've ever played under $2000 - too bad they don't have baroque violins. Any Scott Cao at $800 I tried was unimaginably better than the $800 Karl Hofner I once owned, and I'd even say better than some antique ~$5000 German (though against antique instruments it's a little apple and orange). I'm sorry that all the chinese instruments you tried in your area are terrible, but yeah, as mentioned above, China is a HUMONGOUS country
  12. By the way, it seems like one of the clips on the website is mislabelled. The Wieniawski caprice (the most well-played clip IMO ) is probably no. 5, not no. 4. Might want to correct it?
  13. I was one of them who looked for this too! Before I shell out $10 though - is it anything close to Perlman's rendition (as in his cinema serenade)? I don't mind if it's technically demanding, but it'd be a bummer if it doesn't have the flair of what Perlman played, especially his introduction. Thanks for the info, Stewart
  14. I have to second others about Scott Cao and Jay Haide. At the risk of displeasing the moderators =P, I have to tell you that I just went to Shar (Ann Arbor) today to try out their new violins, which include some of the "collector's series" and Sofias. The experience was really not as impressive as my visit to Scott Cao's shop and Ifshin. It was a long time ago that I visited Ifshin, and I remember I asked to see $3k range violin. I tried the Jay Haide first and thought it was really nice. When I proceeded to the antiques they have, I expected much more but I was very disappointed. It turned out that the old violins I tried were up to $4.5K but the Jay Haide was only $2k. The only possible downside about getting Jay Haide or Scott Cao shop models (not Scott Cao himself of course) is that even though they sound big, even, warm, resonant, sweet and all that, they may not sound very "interesting" and may lack somewhat in characters... Stewart
  15. In addition to Issac Stern, Micha Elman might even be more interesting to watch (see, e.g. the Art of the Violin DVD) as he's very short. I guess according to the old school, it all comes down to body freedom and not being locked in one position.
  16. Hi Shirl - Well, this is different though. The Alliance Vivace violin strings seem to have a much higher reputation than its viola and cello strings. It fact I suspect I'll keep using the medium ones in the future. It's just that high tension strings are generally a little hard to tame and therefore less popular. These are by all means still terrific strings.
  17. Hi people, Since no one responded to my earlier post for exchanging the Corelli strings, I went ahead and bought a new set of medium Alliance Vivace and compared them to the forte version. The medium is easier to play and more laid back, while the forte is richer but a little too bright on my violin. I decided to keep the medium and since I don't want to let the forte set waste away in a storage box only to be forgotten, I'm giving it away for free. Yes, I'm giving away a set of few-days-old $40 violin strings! Just email me your address and I wouldn't mind paying the shipping within the U.S. Well actually, you're welcome to give me a little money if you like them, but if not, I hope you'll post here again and give them to someone else (I'm sure the strings would work magnificently on some violins). Stewart
  18. And I'm sure Elgar would be stunned to hear the way Du Pre played his cello concerto
  19. Speaking of Naxos historical, what about Sammons' recording? I've heard many great things about it and how it should be better than Menuhin's version, but I couldn't tell much last time I checked out Naxo's website.
  20. I guess it has been a couple months since the string topic was brought up I just got a set of Alliance Vivace forte on my violin, which has a soft/pure but quite clear and projecting sound. I've been using a set of medium Evah Pirazzi and I was hoping that Alliance forte would give it a richer/warmer sound without sacrificing the power (which I need since the instrument itself is not very powerful). Well, after a couple days of use, I think the sound is definitely richer but a little too bright. The Evahs also sound a bit more open. So I'm wondering if the forte is too much and that I should try the medium. Is there anyone here who has a set of used medium Alliance Vivace in good condition and would like to try out the forte? If so, we can do an exchange (mine is a few days old) - you can email me about it. I'd also love to hear any recent thoughts on these strings. Stewart
  21. Her "through the looking glass" a few years ago is also very interesting. Her playing has changed a lot in the last two decades, but even her early recordings can be superb. I have an mp3 of her Paganini #1 3rd mov from an early recording - that kind of crispness is just unbelievable. I am definitely getting her Beethoven - it's going to be different from everyone else's. Stewart
  22. Having a charming idiosyncratic style is more than just being recognizable though. I believe I can, for example, recognize Sarah Chang, while a good number of people on the board would agree that she doesn't have very mature musicianship and falls short of being the one of the greats. BTW, Hank... do you think you can recognize the Korean violinist if you had listen to him or her for as many times as you have listened to Kennedy? Sometimes unfamiliar names and indistinctive features can make asian players seem less recognizable. A few top Korean players I know (such as Kyung Wah Chung, Chee Yun, Dong Suk Kang, Eunice Lee) have pretty nice individual voices (and let us remember Sarah Chang is American - if she sounds similar to many people it's probably because of her Julliard/Delay training)... Stewart
  23. hehe, my Mom listened to my practicing and yelled at me when I was little too (And I Sucked)
  24. Alistair, I guess we all agree that interpretation (i.e. what you do with the technique) is what defines a good performance. However I have reservation about saying that proper coercing would produce techniques. I started the violin when I was seven and from the very beginning it was clear that I had little technical talents. After 16 years I'm still not good, but I've realized certain principles and begun to hear certain things that I just could not hear and understand when I was little. From personal experience I feel that technique is not really about mechanical positioning - it's mostly about an acute and patient sense of hearing. And then there are other things like problem-solving ability. Leopold Auer once recounted a story about Mischa Elman: The barely teenage Elman was going to perform the Tchaikovsky for an audition. In the edition of the cadenza he played there was the scale in thirds (which many people don't play nowadays), and he was struggling with it. Auer suggested that he gave up and played something easier for the audition. Little Mischa broke into tears and insisted that he'd practice. A week later he came back and played the passage flawlessly. This, Auer noted, was the hallmark of a prodigy. So my point is, there are many impressive things that go with impressive techniques (even without interpretation) - I would not simply say, "Big deal. Anybody can do that if they sacrifice their childhood for the devilish training" ( (another example... Sarah Chang told reporters that she only practiced two to four hours a day when she was little.) Just my two cents... Stewart
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