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Are today's top violinists indistinguishable?


Hank Schutz
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I don't know why you guys give Josh Bell such negative reviews. His repertoire is enormous, he's very good at most styles, chamber music, sonatas. I don't think you could say that about most concert violinists.

I've heard him several times in big halls and never thought he had a small sound, maybe he used to when he played on that guitar shaped violin. He got a different one a few years ago and I think it sounds much richer.

Bell also varies his vibrato throughout his phrases and has a very unique and expressive way of feeling rhythm (not bad rhythm, just creative). I actually think this makes him very unique.

He has a cd from the 90's of three French sonatas with Thibaudet; Franck, Faure, and Debussy. Just beautiful, probably the best I've heard those pieces.

Somebody mentioned Kogan as an old-schooler that was unique. I couldn't disagree more. For my ears, he is a machine, an amazing one no doubt. But there is no character, no variety, it's all the same. Bowstrokes all the same, vibrato always the same, that same Russian school vitality on every note without the imagination that Heifetz or Oistrakh had, rhythm very straightforward and square, but technically as solid as it gets.

I think the best musicians today as well as in the past are unique and special. The ones from the past that were indistiguishable probably were forgotten, for the most part. And probably some of the less original players of the current time will also be forgotten.

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As usual I enjoyed everyone perspective on today's versus the past.

 It was interesting how judgments were all derived from

recordings.  The great majority of my listening is via

recording, but I do not for a moment think that was the event or

how it sounded.  How many concerts have you gone to and

listened to a live recording afterwards?  Were they the same?

 How did listening to the recording more than once change your

perception of what "actually" happened?  Almost every comment

I read should be prefaced with "from the recordings I have heard".

 I have listened to relatively small number of outstanding

artists in person.  My judgments are certainly different than

listening to massaged recording.  I would not judge much else

other than I enjoyed or not and why.

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Indistinguishable? No, but I agree that they're style - technical, musical, and otherwise - is more similar (grammer?) than say even 10 years ago.

I can always identify a Hahn recording - I dont know what it is, but there's something very unique about her sound and interpretaion that I haven't really heard elsewhere.

I can usually identify a Heifetz recording, mostly due to the fact that most of his recordings have faster tempi than most people play them at. That and technical perfection...

The local classical radio station plays a lot of Ehnes a lot (I'm Canadian, of course), so I've learned to associate a sound with his playing as well.

But back to the original point being brought up: I think it's unfair to the artists to say that they are indistinguishable, but by no means does that mean that they have no similarities between each other.

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