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Recordings of Notable Instruments?


Andrew Song
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Friends,

 

I've been listening to Anne Akiko Meyer's newest album (Four Seasons), which is notably recorded on the ex-Vieuxtemps del Gesu. This got me thinking: are there other recordings where the instrument is known and is of some repute? There are plenty by artists who have notable instruments, but it's often not revealed which specific one they're playing on.

 

The only other example I know off the top of my head is another Meyer recording "Seasons...dreams" which was recorded after she received use of the ex-Molitor Strad.

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Most of Rabin's are on the Kubelick or 'Townley' Guarneri. Great close-sounding recordings. Most of heifetz on the David. Perlman's later ones on Soil, I'm sure you can easily find out when each acquired their instruments. I can look up date for Rabin in a book if u want. Kogan played on two Guarneris, names on Wikipedia. Of course there are some recording of il Cannone too, by accardo, kogan, and many by others. Look up 'played on PAganini's violin' on YouTube by massimo quarta.

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Friends,

 

I've been listening to Anne Akiko Meyer's newest album (Four Seasons), which is notably recorded on the ex-Vieuxtemps del Gesu. This got me thinking: are there other recordings where the instrument is known and is of some repute? There are plenty by artists who have notable instruments, but it's often not revealed which specific one they're playing on.

 

The only other example I know off the top of my head is another Meyer recording "Seasons...dreams" which was recorded after she received use of the ex-Molitor Strad.

Very few famous performers own more than one really top level instrument so if it is a commercial recording I think they are very likely to be using their best instrument.  In a live concert you can't be sure because many instruments are temperamental as related to climate, for example, so the performer might use a different violin in a venue that doesn't favor his famous fiddle.  For a studio recording the performer wants to sound the best possible.  If you know the recording date and you go to Cozio.com you can find out what instrument the performer had when the recording was made.  On commercial recordings (on CD or LP vinyl) the written notes sometimes give the instrument used.  There was a CD available some years ago called something like "The Glory of Cremona" on which several great instruments are played.  Also there is a CD and a DVD titled "Homage" on which James Ehnes plays several great Strads and Guarneri del Gesu instruments from David Fulton's collection.  One of the interesting features of this recording is an AB comparison of the instruments with the same piece (exerpt) played on each one. 

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Is there any real benefit to comparing recordings (for actual sound) in the first place?

 

The only way I can see it being remotely of use is if one performer played the same bit of music in exactly the same situation (ie. recording studio)...otherwise you just get too many variables in play.

 

(There's an eBay vendor that does something close to that actually...but even then the performer is free to make a violin sound or worse or better than it actually might be - if he/she needed to).

 

Recordings of performances are entirely different...those you can compare (even if the recordings are old, scratchy, etc.)...

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I'm not sure what the question is, but there is a video on Y-tube showing Josh Bell playing the "Vieuxtemps" if you want to hear someone else playing on it.  A remarkable violin.  The little blurbs of Akiko-Myers playing the Seasons didn't do it justice IMO.

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As has been mentioned often, when you listen to a fine performer play on a violin you are hearing not the instrument alone but the player's sound.  Different people sound differently playing the same instrument in the same venue.  Gidon Kremer used to brag that his sound is his and he can make it on any reasonably decent instrument.  Maybe an exaggeration but ...  And then there is the (apocryphal?) remark by Heifetz when someone praised the sound of his violin (he held it to his ear and said he didn't hear anything)   Nevertheless, hearing someone like Meyers or Bell or Ehnes play a great instrument gives you an idea of what the instrument can do.  And it is as good an idea as most of us will get.

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Also there is a CD and a DVD titled "Homage" on which James Ehnes plays several great Strads and Guarneri del Gesu instruments from David Fulton's collection.  One of the interesting features of this recording is an AB comparison of the instruments with the same piece (exerpt) played on each one. 

 

And on YT as well. James Ehnes does a sterling job there - he's the ideal player for such illustrations.

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One can find many examples in YT of same player with at least two different instruments. I good one is:

 

 

 

The style and conception of the Master are there, but the voice has change and becomes more interesting IMHO.

 

Stradivari 'Hercules' vs del Gesu 'Leduc'

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