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tchaikovsgay

Galamian Violin Hold

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I can understand a change in style and soloists in those days playing perhaps more freely with more expressive slides etc. resulting in occasional out-of-tuneness, but did Furtwängler or Karajan (or many others) tolerate even slight, brief, out-of-tuneness in their orchestras? Were those orchestras sub-par, considering playing in tune with each other is a must in an orchestra?

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1 hour ago, thirteenthsteph said:

I can understand a change in style and soloists in those days playing perhaps more freely with more expressive slides etc. resulting in occasional out-of-tuneness, but did Furtwängler or Karajan (or many others) tolerate even slight, brief, out-of-tuneness in their orchestras? Were those orchestras sub-par, considering playing in tune with each other is a must in an orchestra?

Playing in tune ( and with each other ) is not a must in an orchestra and it'll sound flat, boring, hollow and thin. A competent Conductor adjusts intonation as needed while holding to an underlining rule. 

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2 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

Probalby what it comes down to is we can't tolerate even slight, brief, out of tuneness.

Then the Prok example you posted a while ago baffles me. 

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2 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

Probalby what it comes down to is we can't tolerate even slight, brief, out of tuneness.

The cure for that is not the shoulder rest: it is the editing room.

I have no idea whether live performances get edited before broadcast though. Maybe not. I must get back into hearing violinists live, one learns so much more, or rather, learns something different.

Shoulder rests do affect hand position, and indirectly, intonation. For me it is not an improvement. Intonation is an oddly subjective thing. To my ear a lot of the young'uns are off key, when Milstein rarely is, though we all have bad days. And some of the gipsy players who bend the pitch outrageously sound perfect to me, which is strange because on a raw pitch discrimination test my score is pretty good.

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17 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

I’m not going to refuse anyone who wants a shoulder rest. As I said before, if anyone really wants to know my personal opinion, I’ll tell them I don’t like them.

As far as the argument here, I think      both sides have shown that the rest is actually not necessary. One side thinks it improves playing, the other doesn’t. When the car analogy came up, both sides demonstrated that, like some of the modern accessories in cars, rests are a violin accessory that can be used or not used, as the player desires. If they were a necessity, they’d be a part of the instrument. 

I’m concerned that I see school string programs and teachers who make all their students play with rests and never give them the chance to decide for themselves about what will best fit them.

Well, the rest is actually necessary.

Playing well without a rest sounds by far better than playing well with one. But few pupils have ( nowadays ) the discipline needed to learn to play w/o a rest and teachers are under horrible pressure to produce immediate and constant results. It is MUCH easier to shift / vibrate with a rest than without. There is a moment in one's expression on violin ( and left/right hand technique ) when a rest becomes counterproductive but the vast majority will never find themselves there. Unfortunately. 

A violin is held properly between the collar bone and the tip of the chin - few children can do that and they "help" it by using their shoulder. That's tiring and causes the violin to rotate vertically and downwards - makes a mess out of a beginner's shifting and introduces a variable nobody has the time or willingness to attend to. A rest fixes those problems, at minimal cost for anybody but a "sophisticated" player. Sophisticated player are not needed as there aren't audiences for those. 

You're making excellent points but it's too little, too late.

 

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2 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

Maybe, or a whole different approach.  It's the changing times.  J.S. Bach would never get a record deal.  George Washington wouldn't get elected dogcatcher.  Doesn't say a thing about their actual greatness.

It does however say a lot about how informed our audience are, nowadays. 

A former piano teacher , long passed, attended as a student the recital/concert of a famous pianist in Hamburg just before WWI. Around 3/4 of the audience could've played the recital and almost half could've conducted it, too. 

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21 minutes ago, John_London said:

To my ear a lot of the young'uns are off key, when Milstein rarely is, though we all have bad days. And some of the gipsy players who bend the pitch outrageously sound perfect to me, which is strange because on a raw pitch discrimination test my score is pretty good.

It's not they are off key. They're horribly off key. Gypsies play with "natural" intonations which can be 1/4 tone off "academic" one. But not many gypsies play quartet...  

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11 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

....Sophisticated player are not needed as there aren't audiences for those. ...

 

wow...!

At some level even those in the audience who are entirely uninformed sense the differences. We hope. A friend who is musicially uniformed was blown away by a kid playing the Sibelius, not too well, in a TV concert. So I pulled up the Ferras video on Youtube and she could hear the difference.

There again, a close friend who is an amateur cellist, trained as a soloist, told me he used to get nervous before a performance but does not now, owing to a 'more realistic assessment of the audience.' He is probably right. The audience do however enjoy his wonderful bel canto sound, especially when he has forewarned them that his cello is built on a Stradivari model :wacko:

 

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9 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

Playing in tune ( and with each other ) is not a must in an orchestra and it'll sound flat, boring, hollow and thin. A competent Conductor adjusts intonation as needed while holding to an underlining rule. 

I imagine you mean that very slight variation both in tuning and timing gives depth to the sound, as long as it's not noticeable as something off?

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12 hours ago, thirteenthsteph said:

I can understand a change in style and soloists in those days playing perhaps more freely with more expressive slides etc. resulting in occasional out-of-tuneness, but did Furtwängler or Karajan (or many others) tolerate even slight, brief, out-of-tuneness in their orchestras? Were those orchestras sub-par, considering playing in tune with each other is a must in an orchestra?

I don't really buy the idea that soloists were freer with intonation in the past, though I am open to persuasion if you come up with examples. Changes in training--and the shoulder rest is part of the picture--are more likely to have led to deterioration, to my taste, though I am optimistic things are looking up.

The question of string sections raising a leading note or flattening a minor third, at the cost of just harmonies, is interesting and something I had not thought about. However, it is probably no different today. 

As for soloists of the past being freer with intonation, it would be useful to go to Youtube and find some examples to test your idea. To my ear, the famous soloists of the past were as good as better than those of today, except that recordings with poor intonation would get released in the past, and that would not happen today. There lies the difference. For example Kreisler's late recordings can be out of tune, possibly related to deafness. Big names such as Kreisler, Menuhin, through to Stern, could have almost anything they did put out on record, in spite of loss of precision.

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1 hour ago, thirteenthsteph said:

I imagine you mean that very slight variation both in tuning and timing gives depth to the sound, as long as it's not noticeable as something off?

I wouldn't depth, more like it makes it meaty. Depth is achieve by a special tuning of the orchestra and too much of it can become tiresome. Both orchestras and nowadays soloists work for money and responded in the shifts in audiences since around post WWI. The audiences became gradually unsophisticated and demanded ( or appreciated ) more clear, more analytic renditions of whatever music was happening there. Things had to be somehow over-explained. 

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16 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

I wouldn't depth, more like it makes it meaty. Depth is achieve by a special tuning of the orchestra and too much of it can become tiresome. Both orchestras and nowadays soloists work for money and responded in the shifts in audiences since around post WWI. The audiences became gradually unsophisticated and demanded ( or appreciated ) more clear, more analytic renditions of whatever music was happening there. Things had to be somehow over-explained. 

Well, perhaps the top soloists of the past did not necessarily work for money, but I can't imagine that the majority of the more run-of-the-mill soloists back then, on whom cash didn't rain so easily, were somehow more virtuous than they are nowadays.

Maybe people tend to be more analytical and detail-oriented now than they used to... maybe. Also, classical music seems to be appreciated by less of the population whereas it used to be more widespread, or even expected of someone to listen to it back then (? I don't know, you tell me), but the people who do listen to it surely form the audiences, don't they?

Although, I suppose if something is more common in society, people tend to discuss it more and are expected to have sophisticated opinions on it whereas now these groups of discussion are in many cases an audience of one, talking to themselves or on forums like this. :lol:

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14 minutes ago, thirteenthsteph said:

1. Well, perhaps the top soloists of the past did not necessarily work for money, but I can't imagine that the majority of the more run-of-the-mill soloists back then, on whom cash didn't rain so easily, were somehow more virtuous than they are nowadays.

2. Maybe people tend to be more analytical and detail-oriented now than they used to... maybe. Also, classical music seems to be appreciated by less of the population whereas it used to be more widespread, or even expected of someone to listen to it back then (? I don't know, you tell me), but the people who do listen to it surely form the audiences, don't they?

3. Although, I suppose if something is more common in society, people tend to discuss it more and are expected to have sophisticated opinions on it whereas now these groups of discussion are in many cases an audience of one, talking to themselves or on forums like this. :lol:

1. I think there was always about money and I think in the past it was much worse than today - they were downright vicious. And there was real money to be made. Enesco and Kreisler, who were the top of the food chain from before WWI to the late 20s, netted around 3.5-4mill USD in today's money from their early US tours. That's adjusted for inflation the Web way. :)  A top Opera singer like Caruso or Tetrazzini would've dwarfed that. Things were expensive, horribly so and important people were expected to live large : houseS, servants, horses, expensive summer vacations, small "courts" etc. ALL violin virtuosos I am aware of from around that period made and lost a couple of fortunes. Nowadays, they're selling like 500 CDs. And through circuitous routes, their fees come from your taxes.

2. Not at all. It seems like that because it's much easier to get in touch with analytical people. 

In around 1890 Europe was PACKED with Opera Companies "trading" from horse drawn carts. The only way you could listen to music was to have somebody scratching a violin or beating a piano - there was a huge number of people who could do that more or less competently. Going for a walk in town in most any Central European city, you would hear from most any house some form of violin/piano music. Lots and lots of quartets in Prague, for example. Bottom line, most anybody knew music. Frightening.

3. Not at all. Classical music was taken very seriously and caused quite a few dwells. Almost zero tolerance for divergent opinions and that in incredibly minor matters. Rabid prose from critics was common, was the norm.

For the past 30 or so years we've seen some respite due to excellent economic situation in the West and the opening of the Asian market. Both are not were they used to be. There will always be some Classical music. But the golden period in performance ended around 100 years ago and will never come back. No need for it. It doesn't help that our contemporary soloists/conductors/composers fail to supply exciting performances. And that's when they're not downright rubbish. Do get back to me when you find a performance of Beethoven's C/to comparable with say, Grumieux'. We can LOOK at a modern painting and decide in a seconds if it's worth the trouble. Takes 40 minutes to do the same with B's c/to. I don't have either the time nor the mental energy to go through that for the unlikely possibility that there might be something there. Almost never is. When they are "fine", they're imitation of past performances, sometimes very nicely done. But then, I have the original recordings. 

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1 hour ago, thirteenthsteph said:

@Carl Stross  I will listen to Grumiaux's interpretation again and come back to you. :) Which version do you recommend?

This should do :

 

And look for B's Romances with him, too. Incredible performances. Grumieux is an honest, down to earth Artist who puts his fingerprint on the music while never second guessing the composer. That's such a rare quality amongst the greats.

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2 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

For the past 30 or so years we've seen some respite due to excellent economic situation in the West and the opening of the Asian market. Both are not were they used to be. There will always be some Classical music. But the golden period in performance ended around 100 years ago and will never come back.

In a 2012 interview Zuckerman says "In the last 25 or 30 years of my existence in the profession, we’ve seen a growth of mediocrity that’s relentless. I hate it." He is maybe thinking about the effect removal of music education from most schools. I cannot really judge.

I will however stick out my neck with a different perspective on one point: the very best of the current crop of opera singers can put on magnificent performances, and are paid magnificently. In their ways I think they are up there with the greats of the past. Of course that is for a small audience who can attend a handful of the word's best opera houses--and even Covent Garden in London cannot afford to offer the public the best voices for every performance. Traditions of bel canto (whatever you understand by that) are not entirely lost today, though they are modified.

Disagreement based on hearing opera recordings rather than experiencing the stars live will be ignored :ph34r: If I had a Euro for everyone who said "I don't like opera" on the basis of the fact they have never sat in an opera house in their entire life, or at best once or twice, I'd be as rich as Kreisler. We can only evaluate the singers of 100 years ago from recordings, obviously.

Violin playing is unlikely to reach the standards of 100 years ago until violin students are as familiar with live opera as were the greats of past, inlcuding Mr. Heifetz and Mr. Milstein. Well--there is a chunk of my operatic prejudices, to go with those on shoulder rests!

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2 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

This should do :

 

And look for B's Romances with him, too. Incredible performances. Grumieux is an honest, down to earth Artist who puts his fingerprint on the music while never second guessing the composer. That's such a rare quality amongst the greats.

Nicely done. Wikipedia (German) tells me he finished his studies with Enescu. Which violinists in training recently are as lucky with their teachers.

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30 minutes ago, John_London said:

Nicely done. Wikipedia (German) tells me he finished his studies with Enescu. Which violinists in training recently are as lucky with their teachers.

I could be wrong as most of my info is based on discussing with people, but I don't think Grumiaux studied violin with Enesco - I think he studied composition/piano with him, like Szeryng. Lots of people took some lessons with Enesco, lots played for him and received some small advice but to my knowledge only a couple could call themselves his violin pupils . Ferras would be one and also to a much smaller extent, Neveau. Two or three others who are practically unknown. Lessons with Enesco were frightfully expensive and just to sit in the small hall of the C/tory and watch the show was around $200. Enesco was very critical of Grumiaux and they did not part amicably, afaik.

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8 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

This should do :

And look for B's Romances with him, too. Incredible performances. Grumieux is an honest, down to earth Artist who puts his fingerprint on the music while never second guessing the composer. That's such a rare quality amongst the greats.

It's an excellent performance. I'm still attached to the Menuhin versions both of the Concerto and the Romances despite his faults... Same with the Brahms.

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1 hour ago, thirteenthsteph said:

It's an excellent performance. I'm still attached to the Menuhin versions both of the Concerto and the Romances despite his faults... Same with the Brahms.

Menuhin is more of a "natural" and sounds fresher. He's vibrato is in part responsible for that. His early renditions of the two B''s are a touch over -romantic. I like that, I am not blinded by it. :) Later, in the '70s I've heard him with very philosophical takes on both B's and to my mind that was true greatness. Zero compromise. But should yourself be caught in this dilemma, there is always Ferras. Or as I say, where the buck stopped. 

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8 hours ago, John_London said:

 

Violin playing is unlikely to reach the standards of 100 years ago until violin students are as familiar with live opera as were the greats of past, inlcuding Mr. Heifetz and Mr. Milstein. Well--there is a chunk of my operatic prejudices, to go with those on shoulder rests!

I hope you don't imagine violin students as a group are interested in real music by real performers like here ( 11:00 ), for example :

 

By comparison with the great tradition of French Chefs "violin students" are barely flipping burgers at McDonalds. 

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1 hour ago, Carl Stross said:

Menuhin is more of a "natural" and sounds fresher. He's vibrato is in part responsible for that. His early renditions of the two B''s are a touch over -romantic. I like that, I am not blinded by it. :) Later, in the '70s I've heard him with very philosophical takes on both B's and to my mind that was true greatness. Zero compromise. But should yourself be caught in this dilemma, there is always Ferras. Or as I say, where the buck stopped. 

Well, there's still Kavakos' Brahms for me. :)

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11 minutes ago, thirteenthsteph said:

Well, there's still Kavakos' Brahms for me. :)

Kavakos is overall my fav. modern, contemporary player. I could say I like his style. But not in Brahms. Too distant. But then, I like Isabelle Faust's style even more.

And that's the extent of our delegation to Alderaan...

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