Carl Stross

Stradivarius violin talks to you

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"

Listen to this brilliant musician tell you his amazing personal journey from how the sound of this violin was a mere scratch at first, then how the violin demanded to be played with delicacy on his D string, to finally how the Stradivarius can predict tomorrow’s weather just by listening attentively to its sound. 

In March 2015, Inmo won the 54th International Violin Competition “Premio Paganini” in Genoa, Italy, marking the first time since 2006 that the Paganini Competition jury awarded First Prize, confirming The Violin Channel’s praise of Inmo as “one of the new generation’s most talented young string virtuosi.” Inmo gave a performance of Paganini’s 24 caprices, recorded live and released under the Deutsche Grammophon label in November 2018. "

 

This matter seems then to be pretty much settled. 

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It's interesting to hear a Stradivari in the most unflattering way, i.e. close mic with heavy breathing. 
Still sounds nice!

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It's a really nice talk and he speaks well. However, for me it rather proves the point that if you believe a violin must be great because it's a Strad, you will spend 2 years learning how to make it sound good.

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That was a great talk! :)

But I dunno...if it's that difficult to play, why bother? Making excuses for it, and romanticizing it, just because it's a Strad seems silly. Maybe it's at the end of it's life and needs to be put out to pasture? A nice glass case in a nice museum?

Seems to be a lot of parallels between this Strad and Ray Chen's $69er. In each case, the skill of the player is the main factor in getting the "best" sound out the instrument - and they have to fight to do so.

I'd be pretty disappointed if I was a talented player and was lent a prestige instrument - that I had to battle with to play.

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4 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

This matter seems then to be pretty much settled. 

But in whose favor?  :huh::ph34r:

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In a hopelessly dry acoustic (and making allowance for the skill of the player) it sounds to me just like any old violin

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6 hours ago, Rue said:

I'd be pretty disappointed if I was a talented player and was lent a prestige instrument - that I had to battle with to play.

But imagine the repercussions, had he declined the the use of the instrument. What is one to do?

"In Mo is a former major prize winner at the Munetsugu Angel, Joseph Joachim, Tchaikovsky, Menuhin and Kloster Schontal International Violin Competitions – and was awarded a highly acclaimed 1st prize at the 2015 Paganini International Violin Competition."

I wonder what he was playing on when he won all those competitions, prior to having use of the Stradivari?

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

But imagine the repercussions, had he declined the the use of the instrument. What is one to do?

"In Mo is a former major prize winner at the Munetsugu Angel, Joseph Joachim, Tchaikovsky, Menuhin and Kloster Schontal International Violin Competitions – and was awarded a highly acclaimed 1st prize at the 2015 Paganini International Violin Competition."

I wonder what he was playing on when he won all those competitions, prior to having use of the Stradivari?

I have confirmed that he was already playing Strads as far back as the 2015 Paganini.  He has been loaned at least 2 at different times. The one that he used at the Pag was likely the composite (variously given as 1705/1708 or 1705/1718), loaned to him from Reuning & Sons, courtesy of an anonymous donor, that he was still playing in 2016-2017.  He had been loaned the 1714 Joachim-Ma Stradivarius he has in the video, by some time in 2018.  :)

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Nice video, Carl. I hope he eventually gets a better violin.

And bow hair can also "predict rain." Maybe I should give a Ted Talk on that.

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Nice video.  So it crunches easily and can't take pressure.  From a makers' perspective, any thoughts on the likely cause?  Plates too thin?  Setup issues?  I think one can make any violin crunch by pushing too hard, but it's fun to find a violin where you can really dig deep without losing it.  

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43 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

Nice video.  So it crunches easily and can't take pressure.  From a makers' perspective, any thoughts on the likely cause?  Plates too thin?  Setup issues?

Not enough stiffness or mass, probably. Would need to experiment with the setup to know for sure.

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7 hours ago, David Burgess said:

But imagine the repercussions, had he declined the the use of the instrument. What is one to do?

...

That's just it - he can't refuse - knowing a refusal might derail his career.

And that's the irony:

"Congrats! As a "reward" for extraordinary skills - we will now punish you by making you play a cr*ppy violin while obligating you to appear honoured by said punishment."

Maybe someone can/has made him an identical looking, but playable copy...:ph34r:

Not like he'd be setting a precedent or anything...:P

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14 hours ago, Rue said:

That was a great talk! :)

But I dunno...if it's that difficult to play, why bother? Making excuses for it, and romanticizing it, just because it's a Strad seems silly. Maybe it's at the end of it's life and needs to be put out to pasture? A nice glass case in a nice museum?

Seems to be a lot of parallels between this Strad and Ray Chen's $69er. In each case, the skill of the player is the main factor in getting the "best" sound out the instrument - and they have to fight to do so.

I'd be pretty disappointed if I was a talented player and was lent a prestige instrument - that I had to battle with to play.

 

5 minutes ago, Rue said:

That's just it - he can't refuse - knowing a refusal might derail his career.

And that's the irony:

"Congrats! As a "reward" for extraordinary skills - we will now punish you by making you play a cr*ppy violin while obligating you to appear honoured by said punishment."

Maybe someone can/has made him an identical looking, but playable copy...:ph34r:

Not like he'd be setting a precedent or anything...:P

How DO you come up with these things and in which way do you think they are useful ?

He is a player of stellar capabilities and it is let's say, unkind to portray him as mildly dishonest. Can I have a sample of your playing, please ? Pretty please ?

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15 hours ago, martin swan said:

It's a really nice talk and he speaks well. However, for me it rather proves the point that if you believe a violin must be great because it's a Strad, you will spend 2 years learning how to make it sound good.

Yes, in very general terms you are right. Doesn't detract from the violin's qualities though.

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I had a chance to play a Strad a couple of years ago. It was bad. No matter how gifted a musician, one has to learn how to play one of the elite instruments. A great instrument will do what you want, even if you’re not sure you want it, and even if you’re not wanting it at all. You have to learn it. So I find his ideas entirely believable. I had the same problem with my teacher’s Gofriller, long ago. Sounded terrible, because one has to learn it.

Of course it’s worthwhile, because when you’ve learned the instrument, not only are you a better musician yourself, but you are able to use the Instrument to full capacity. If I had had that Strad for a couple of years I would’ve learned it.

By contrast, I recently had a chance to play a Gand And I bonded with it instantly, oh what a fantastic cello! Bonding with the Strad would have taken longer, but it would have been deeper.

Entirely worth it.

 

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8 minutes ago, Eugen Modri said:

 

How DO you come up with these things and in which way do you think they are useful ?

He is a player of stellar capabilities and it is let's say, unkind to portray him as mildly dishonest. Can I have a sample of your playing, please ? Pretty please ?

I don't see that Rue, or anyone else has portrayed him as dishonest. He has been quite straightforward about the challenges (and limitations) of using this instrument.

And whether you are aware of this or not, some players do have visual copies made of their rare antique instrument, and they use them.

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3 hours ago, violinsRus said:

Nice video.  So it crunches easily and can't take pressure.  From a makers' perspective, any thoughts on the likely cause?  Plates too thin?  Setup issues?  I think one can make any violin crunch by pushing too hard, but it's fun to find a violin where you can really dig deep without losing it.  

 I’m not a physicist, but I think you have it backwards, the great instruments take much less energy. Most musicians are used to using a certain amount of energy when they play, but a really great Strad or DG only requires, for instance, X -30%. That means when we pick up one of those grade instruments we are instinctively over playing by 30%!

The white noise we get isn’t the Violin letting us down, it is us working too hard.

I see this phenomenon constantly when I let one of my young students put aside their ghastly rental and spend a few minutes playing my own instrument.

 

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I don't know how many Strads you have played, but I have never had this experience of finding one difficult to play. I remember one in an auction which had an insert in the belly which sounded poor (lack of tonal colour), the Molitor was surprisingly stiff but great nonetheless ... but in the main the instruments I've been lucky enough to play on have been anywhere from great to phenomenal, from the vey first bow stroke.

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48 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

 I’m not a physicist, but I think you have it backwards, the great instruments take much less energy. Most musicians are used to using a certain amount of energy when they play, but a really great Strad or DG only requires, for instance, X -30%. That means when we pick up one of those grade instruments we are instinctively over playing by 30%!

The soloist instruments which I consider to be the best are capable of taking this energy without a problem, and also responding well to lower energy inputs. This gives the player a broader palette from which to draw power contrasts, color, and expressiveness. No need to tiptoe around.

Besides, putting more energy into an instrument is great stage drama. Why would one bother going to a live performance these days, unless the soloist jumps about a bit, does a cartwheel or two, or has a "wardrobe malfunction"? :)

(Not that it can't also be a good place to pickup chicks) :ph34r:

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46 minutes ago, Eugen Modri said:

How DO you come up with these things and in which way do you think they are useful ?

He is a player of stellar capabilities and it is let's say, unkind to portray him as mildly dishonest. Can I have a sample of your playing, please ? Pretty please ?

Useful? If my opinion gets anyone thinking (in agreement or in disagreement) and is part of an interesting discussion, I consider that useful.

Who portrayed him as even mildly dishonest? I certainly didn't.  I gave him full kudos for a good talk.  He probably HAS to talk about it (I believe this is called 'marketing').  He probably can't say anything overtly negative, even if he wanted to.  He found an excellent balance between the two.  Very diplomatic - especially for a young adult (yob 1995).

A sample of my playing?  Sorry, no.  I don't see how my  playing would add any value to the discussion.  If you think your playing would, please feel free to upload a sample of yours!  I'll be all ears! :)

*FWIW, I've played one Strad.  It was awesome (it wasn't the one in the clip :rolleyes:).  It was 'easy' to play and very responsive and sounded glorious.  I wish I had been less nervous and had more time to play it.  Doesn't mean that every Strad will be the same.  Given the number of Strads still in use, and the associated 300 years of repairs, they all can't possibly be 'great'.

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58 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I don't see that Rue, or anyone else has portrayed him as dishonest. He has been quite straightforward about the challenges (and limitations) of using this instrument.

And whether you are aware of this or not, some players do have visual copies made of their rare antique instrument, and they use them.

I'm trying to remember names (of players and the copies they used), without looking them up...

If I recall, one player used the copy because the original was too subject to environment and he didn't want to travel with it...

And I think the second player I read about just didn't like his Strad, but people expected him to play it?

Was anyone dishonest using a copy?  Not unless they were openly lying about it.  If I go to a concert by Big Name and the instrument s/he's using isn't mentioned, there's no dishonesty.  What I expect them to be using is irrelevant.

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