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Guess which artist is winning at my elementary school: Bell or Milstein?


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I'm running a challenge, a survey of sorts, for my entire elementary school.

I'm playing Milstein's interpretation of the Kreisler "Preludium and Allegro" along with Joshua Bell's. Side by side.

Each class, kindergarten through fifth grade, is voting for the one that they prefer.

So far votes are about 130 for one and about 30 for the other. I won't tell you which is ahead, but will next week when the little listening test is complete.

Milstein's is the EMI recording --and Bell's is from his all-Kreisler recording.

Their interpretations are very, very different.

After we listen and vote (I do not influence them in any way), then the kids explain why they prefer one over the other.

My favorite comment so far (and I won't tell you who it applied to) was, "__________ sounded more skillful to me."

Curious about your guesses,


[This message has been edited by Theresa (edited 05-10-2000).]

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That is so interesting!

I wish I had the 2 to compare as well. But, alas! I only have Stern, Midori, and Perlman playing the P&A. I know which one I prefer, if anyone is interested in participating in my own littler version of the survey.



ok, so I found little clips of the Milstein and Bell on the Internet. But, argh! They are from different sections. :rolleyes

Also, Theresa, to be fair, I think you should use recordings that are either both digital or analog, because tone production do sound different.

[This message has been edited by lagomorphs (edited 05-09-2000).]

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Yes, I agree with Victoria. Sometimes the students hear the quality of recording first, and not the performance itself, so it may not be a fair comparison (I do comparative listening with my students from time to time, but they have a strong tendency to pick a newer recording over an old one, even if the older one happens to have more interesting ideas).

That being said, Bell have a better chance. But my personal preference is Milstein. Too bad Alfredo Campoli's wonderfully charming recording of it is not available on CD. He is almost comparable to Milstein, and superior to Bell.

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Another interesting comment today on the person in the lead: "The music was more alive." (That was of the winner.)

The score is now 54 to 240, but I won't tell till next week who won.

By the way, (starting today) sometimes I play Bell's first; sometimes, Milstein's. I have read studies that first hearing is often the preferred, but in this contest at my school, first hearing is making no difference. The winner (by day two) so far is categorically the winner.

And one other thing that's happening: after having heard these two pro's for two days, I'm still leaning much toward Milstein personally, but I'm starting to hear things that I enjoy a great deal in Bell's performance that initially I wrote off. But it's taken about ten consecutive hearings to get me to that point.

Anyway, thanks for responding because it's fun to hear your predictions.

Curious as ever,


[This message has been edited by Theresa (edited 05-10-2000).]

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gypsyfiddler, her name is Lisa but they broke up recently, according to Josh himself, during his online chat a few weeks ago. Speaking of that chat room, there was a guy there with the screen name Paganini as well. Was that you Paganini?

And no wife yet. Looks like he still has a chance!


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What is being accomplished with all these negative remarks about and public ridicule of Bell?

Most likely, you are not going to persuade those of us who admire his playing to think otherwise.

What you're really doing is discouraging many, who have not heard for themselves, from listening and making their own decision about whether or not they like the way he plays.

Theresa is letting her students make that decision. I wish the other grownups could be so unbiased.

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Bell is good. Really good, but he does not have the shining appeal. I have seen him play many times, but I have never been REALLY impressed with his playing. Yes, he is better than I, Yes, he has incredible talent, but he is young and I am interested in hearing what he sounds like 10 years from now.

There is a big difference in modern verses the old players. I think it is a tasteful issue, not as much a technical or ability issue. I feel that modern players are out there trying to prove that they can play like Heifetz or Milstein, but not involving the integrity the latters did.

I would guess that Bell is winning because of recording quality and flash appeal. I todays world of million frame per second cartoons, I think that that that would be the most appealing for the younger ones. (I hope that artistry would find its way throught this none-the-less!)

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76 to 366, current score.

Comment: I had a substitute yesterday due to an awkwardly scheduled dental appointment.

So, even with a completely different person,completely unknown to me, stating the introductory comments, the winner is very consistent.

I am really surprised at the consistency of the votes. Something to think about.

By the way: both recordings are very comparable as far as quality goes. The biggest difference is interpretation, and the two interpretations are very distinctive.

Anyway, the contest will end next week and I'll let you know who won (probably hands-down) at our school.


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Why shouldn't people discuss Bell's appearance? Mutter, Salerno-Sonnenberg, Vanessa Mae, Harnoy, etc. and all the women get discussed.

And I (female) would rather view Bell than Isaac Stern. (I'd rather hear Bell too, but that is another scenario, and I will admit that my opinion is partly based on reading Stern's recent book, not on pure musical value.)

It's interesting to think about how much external signals have to do with making the musical image of musicians, or of anybody. I recall a bluntly honest 13-year old friend of my daughter who once said: "I don't care what my boyfriend is like as long as he is cute." Youth and beauty are hyped in the media. Norman Lebrecht's books are tremendous eye-openers to debunking real music.


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