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Gennady Filimonov

Modern Day Virtuosos vs Golden Age Virtuosos

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are modern violin masters superior to the old ones?

what made the Golden Age of violinists so enticing and special?

In the past, many great virtuosos (back 200-300 years ago) composed

their own works....where is the modern day "genius" heading?

Let's discuss and see what you all think about it.

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With no other responses, I will go ahead with this opinion;

The golden age virtuosos were more individually developed. They were geographically apart, travel was much more difficult, and there weren't audiotracks that they could access so they could hear what everyone else was doing. Because of these conditions I think they turned their ears inwardly and developed unique styles that were pleasing to them. I think that this led to more freedom in their early training and in their general outlook towards both music and the instrument. They took more liberties with interpretation (no one told them not to) they occasionally changed even how the composer arranged things and they improvised and created their own music.

Why are there none or few players that do this today? improvisation and the taking of liberties is generally not worked on in a classical music teacher's studio and in some places it is highly discouraged. It is hard to be an apple tree in an orange grove. People with that inclination may not be letting their work out in public so much (they are really opening themselves up to the critics) or they may be choosing other forms of music -not classical. I did read somewhere that Josh Bell was thinking of trying his hand at it, I would guess that what he really will be trying is the public exposure that he has been composing/inventing for years.

What do you think Gennady?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
outside

They took more liberties with interpretation (no one told them not to) they occasionally changed even how the composer arranged things and they improvised and created their own music.

Why are there none or few players that do this today?

More players do this than you realize, I think. Improv is on the upswing, and quite a number of players write their own cadenzas. For example, Joel Smirnoff is chair of violin at Juilliard and he's a terrific improv player. His solos on the CD Tony Bennett Sings Ellington Hot and Cool are totally improvised. Sergey Khachatryan is an up-and-coming young artist who's known for taking liberties with scores... he takes a lot of risk, doesn't always play things as written, and is very successful. Nigel Kennedy has been taking risks for years.

Closer to home here, I've noticed that for the past couple cycles the Indianapolis Competition jury has consistently rewarded players who take risks, write their own cadenzas, and so on. More finalists perform their own cadenzas than not. I have a friend who teaches strings at DePauw and whose specialty is improv -- he travels around the country to do improv clinics at other schools and summer music programs. Also, the new concertmaster in Indianapolis is a big improv player in his Time for Three trio.

The catch is that this is an approach that doesn't appeal to everyone. If someone is a big fan of Hahn, he/she probably won't take to Khachatryan right away. Orchestras program soloists who draw audiences, and CD labels contract artists who sell CDs. So ultimately it's audiences who choose what they want to hear.

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I share "outside's" feeling. I am answering more in terms of "playing style" as opposed to originality (like ability to write a cadenza or improvise). Although many of the modern players are insanely good from a technical standpoint, I don't think many have an identifiable sound or style. I say this with the caveat that my ear may not be as discerning as that of a professional like Gennady, but even I can tell when I hear Heifetz. I am extremely fond of Hilary Hahn's playing, but I am not sure I could honestly say I could hear a recording and immediately say "that's Hilary". Again, some people with a more refined ear may be able to contradict what I say about the "moderns".

Good topic by the way.

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My sense is that "paper training" has inhibited the free expression of musical thought, and players with improvisational skills tend to gravitate towards genres that are more receptive to that sort of thing. Recorded music is a blessing and a curse; my current thinking is that it has become more of a curse than a blessing. It tends to homogenise performers, and it tends to eliminate live musicians from many venues.

I'd really like to be proved wrong on all points.

I note with immense approval Perlman's attempts to play outside the classical arena. One hopes this will stimulate similar behaviors in others.

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there are also quite a number of musicians today who are quite

unique and are not afraid to go against the norm.

Gilles Apap is one such player, covering the field from Mozart to

blues (all in one night, sometimes even in one piece for that

matter).

There is also Time For Three who are making  lots of

waves.

They are classically trained string musicians and all are Curtis

grads.

ranaan meyer,

nick kendall,

zachary de pue,

http://tf3.com/content/view/13/40/

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I have on recordings most major violin concertos, but my favorites

are still Paganini's (#1& #4).  I often wonder what

Paganini himself would have sounded like, with all his

technical prowess and improvisational skill.  Surely today we

have prodigies who could play what he wrote at the tender age of

10, 8, 6 or even 4?  But is there anyone who

could improvise something that sounds remotely similar to

Paganini?  I think it is absurd to think that we have

violinists that have surpassed Paganini, since no one could even

attempt to do what he actually did. That being said, it is

also hard for me to imagine anyone sounding more technically

perfect than Heifetz or Kreisler, including Paganini himself.

 I really like Hilary Hahn.  However, if we just secretly

erase her from the world, would there really be much of a loss

to the history of the instrument?  On the other hand, I am

repetedly amazed by how Regina Carter could make a fiddle sound

like a horn.  Not sure if there is anyone else doing similar

things, but if I never heard her I certainly would not have known a

fiddle could be played like that.

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Artists are so much a product of their place and time, it's just about impossible to make any kind of direct comparison. Who knows if we'd even like Paganini if he appeared on the scene now. I have some recordings of Ysaye, and I find them hard to listen to because the standards have changed so much just in the last century. Yet no one would argue that he wasn't a master and highly influential to the development of violin.

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It is very hard to compare objectively artists of different time or different generations.

We do not know how. It seems just one opinion over another, one isolated impression over another.

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nevertheless, despite the generational gap, the soloists of the

past were more bel canto players and more able to produce original

works (of composition).

Does that say something about the musical  institution(s), or

is it a reflection of our times (homogenization of high culture

with low culture)?

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