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My phone conversation with HKV


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sm, don't invent stories about my "bluffing - not when I pick out Heifetz and other truly old school masters correctly on the radio every time they appear.

Neveu distorts the rhythms in both the Brahms and Sibelius concerti to fit her technique, not the music. Check the SCORE.

Her sound and approach are very much that of a modern player in my ears - she would've done very well on the concert stage today.

In the end, it doesn't matter because those that have heard me in real life know that I wouldn't play either of these concerti the way Neveu did.

[This message has been edited by HuangKaiVun (edited 04-04-2001).]

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Old, modern... to me, adjectives that should only be used from a reference point.

Ex.: Kogan is modern, if compared to Kreisler; but old, if compared to Spivakov.

Ysaye: Old, if compared to Oistrakh; but modern, if compared to Joachim.

Heifetz: old, if compared to Gil Shaham; modern if compared to his own earlier recordings, or Enesco.

And also: someone could sound old in a bad(I don`t need to like all Menuhin`s playing) or good way, and sound modern in a bad or good( Milstein may sound modern to me, depending on what I call modern).

To me, it`s a poor labeling, even with the good intention behind it, and can lead to future misunderstandings, because nobody is forced to accept randomic terminology.

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Neveu's style is vastly too sentimental for today's concert halls; I can't imagine it being at all popular (unless we believe that audiences are secretly craving that style). Nor do I think she has a modern tone, by any means.

However, if you consider Neveu a modern player, do you also consider Hassid a modern player, for instance?

(Given the list of 27 I provided, who would you classify as what?)

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But I have.

You've heard me, Longhair, so you know I'm no "modern violinist" - not that everybody seems to be able to tell the difference.

I'll play these pieces for YOU over the phone sometime the way they were written on the page.

[This message has been edited by HuangKaiVun (edited 04-05-2001).]

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This phone-thing got me thinking about on-the-web violin lessons. My husband brought home a treadmill that you can hook up to the web and get an individualized workout with scenery, etc. and a trainer to run with you. I suppose this kind of thing could be a distance-learning opportunity for wanna-be violin students who live out in the sticks.

I wouldn't mind seeing Huang on a webcast playing his violin. That'd be cool. Even better than the phone.

CJ

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I regret to say I haven't read Kreisler's biography, but when I think of technical standards being more important than musical standards today, the first thing that comes to mind is "Heifetz." I heard he had few off-nights than his colleagues. He was a perfectionist, and he retired when he could no longer play up to his standards. His approach may have been overly technical, but his approach is his business, not to be attacked as absolutely wrong or imitated as absolutely right. He believed in building lots and lots of technique and then just playing repertoire according to ability and temperament. That works fine for someone who played the Ernst concerto "in [his] youth," but I think violin took a turn for the worse when everyone imitated that one facet of his style. I don't mean to say that method is the same as Galamian's technique based on scales and etudes. He'd ask a young violinist to play a scale so he could listen for tone, intonation, evenness, shifting, etc. If it was good enough he'd ask to hear more. I think Heifetz separated music and technique more than most others do or did.

The same thing happened with conductors, though I don't think the ill effects are as prevalent today: many would-be maestros imitated Toscanini for a piece of his greatness, but to no avail. They conducted strictly in tempo--and that's it. No fire, no firing on impulse, no making a live La Boheme recording that a Peabody/Hopkins student almost 50 years later but probably won't hear for another half century because he's lazy and doesn't have his own turntable yet. It was fad imitation, like when Isaac Stern ceased to play concertos with piano accompaniment in public and everyone followed suit.

Szigeti, Elman, Milstein, and Szeryng were intonation freaks, but I don't think they were imitated the way Heifetz was imitated for sterile perfection without the Heifetz style.

-Aman

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Sorry, SM. I'm running on empty energywise, and when I quickly read through this thread, I picked up Staylor's comment about my being political close to your name and mistakingly addressed my former comment to you instead of to Staylor.

As far as the modern violinist discussion goes: I've grown so weary of it that if I read the phrase "modern violinist" on the Fingerboard these days, I immediately skip it. I think if I were sitting next to someone in a recital or a concert, and that person were to say something like, "This performer is a typical modern violinist..." I would spit in the person's eye.

Blah, blah, blah. If a performer has great technique and Beethoven is heard, if an audience member has ears to hear and heart to receive, then please don't go blathering on about your own inability to feel the emotional connection and casually disdain them all by calling them "modern" as though they are sadly lacking. Maybe it's YOU who are lacking more than they. I think what I'm lacking personally in this whole discussion is patience.

This discussion reminds me of the hypercritical music majors in college who would go to what had been a pretty good concert and afterwards they'd cut it to shreds. The musical experience was flushed down the toilet. You'd have thought we'd heard a band of pots and pans played by geese walking over 'em.

After listening in to those discussions--and we couldn't avoid listening as you can skip 'em here by reading elsewhere because we were on the college bus returning to campus--the pleasure of the concert was pretty much lost.

I go to concerts expecting great things. I don't fall asleep in concerts. I listen attentively and receptively. I love going with people who are moved by music--who expect to transcend the quotidian by the program they're about to hear. I am so very, very ignorant, compared to the hypercritical, that I even expect to find countless points of admiration. This feast of eye and ear offered by live performers is comparable to that of the sports fan who is astonished by certain startling seconds in the game in which he or she realizes that a human being has really accomplished a little miracle of physical movement. Only it's even better for me in concerts, I do believe, because the muscular is in cohort with the auditory and spiritual.

So, I repeat,were I to sit next to someone who tried to reduce (with a dash of superiority)the whole experience to the belittling, somewhat condemning phrase "modern violinist," I'd want to spit in the person's eye.

Yes, performers on the concert circuit can go stale and have bad performances. And, yes, the critics need to be in tune to when that is happening--when soloists aren't working anymore; when they've become lazy.

I found it surprising that recently, when among some pretty savvy young musicians, I learned that they really didn't admire too many world class violinists on the concert circuit. I suppose ignorance can be bliss.

Wearily submitted by a lone soul who apparently has no listening discretion at all,

Theresa

[This message has been edited by Theresa (edited 04-06-2001).]

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Well said, Theresa. Please count me among those whose pleasure in the frequent glories of live performance remains undimmed by constant comparisons with performances past. I treasure my recordings of the old masters and listen to them daily, but why limit myself?

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I tend to agree with Theresa, however only to a certain extent. Hilary Hahn I LOVE listening to recordings of. However, other artists such as Sarah Chang I can appreciate in concert however I really am more moved by violinists such as Heifetz, Milstein, Perlman, etc. thus I don't buy Sarah Chang's cds anymore. I think there are very few of us here (there are some who appear to have jumpeded on the wagon and are in favour of dragging into the street and shooting modern violinist) that would actually say that a modern violinist was bad. We would simply say given the choice, we prefer another violinist, and even think he/she is better. I can give an educated opinion on literature, for example, saying that I believe Jane Austin has a superior writing style to all of the "modern" writers that I know of today, that is not to say that those modern writers are not talented. All humans are reactionists, HKV reacts against the over glorified modern violinists and those who speak of them as some sort of demi gods, others of you react against him and although you wouldn't say it directly, try to put all violinists on the same level. Jascha Heifetz was superior to most violinists, so don't deny it, but also don't throw out those slightly inferior violinists with the bath water, so to speak.

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Theresa, Amen.

I too am sick to death of this debate since it is obvious from context that "modern" violinist is not a descriptive term but a perjorative term, used to label and deride a persons playing. What is amusing is that the people using the term the most seem the least able to describe and apply the term.

What bothers me about the term is that by one definition everybody playing today is a modern violinist and that only people playing today are modern violinist. Using this definition the ranks of non-modern violinists will continually increase while the number of modern violinist will be fairly static.

As I think of this statistically I wonder if the differences between two players of the same time period is any greater than the difference between a player from 80 years ago and now. If the the variation is the same in both cases, it tells me that classifying violinists based on time is not a particulary effective stratification.

I go to a major symphonic performance of a violin concerto with the same attitude that I take to my three year olds Christmas performance at preschool. Both are the same in intent, just a little different in execution. Anyone expecting perfection at either is going to be disappointed.

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quote:

Originally posted by Theresa:

Sorry, SM. I'm running on empty energywise, and when I quickly read through this thread, I picked up Staylor's comment about my being political close to your name and mistakingly addressed my former comment to you instead of to Staylor.

Read now.

(by political, I meaned Clintonlike laugh.gif)

Re. relating off-forum things, can one be sure that the other party would always agree? Maybe they would have intended certain things to remain private, or "closed session" information. Or maybe I'm wrong, if it doesn't look confidential?

S.Taylor

[This message has been edited by staylor (edited 04-08-2001).]

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Originally posted by Jon Griffith:

I've never even heard Neveu play, but something has struck me. There ARE more characteristics than simply modern and old school. For instance, Hilary Hahn is totally different (superior in my opinion) than Chang, but they are both "modern" per se.

---

This has been very helpful to me. I have been trying to figure out what makes Hahn sound so much more like Grumiaux (and Kreisler!) and less like Perlman, Zukerman, Chang, Shaham and the rest of the moderns. (and why I've become such a big fan.) Of course, it is her smoother, less "vengeful" bowing! She can "bite" of course when she wants -- she just "wants to" less often.

This is especially clear when you listen to her Barber recording and then listen to Shaham's.

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quote:

Originally posted by LongHair:

Well, you won't be spitting in my eye because I wouldn't be caught dead at a concert hall with a typical modern violinist playing

LongHair,

That's too bad. You mustn't go to very many concerts anymore than?

roman

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Hahn has an astonishingly liquid legato -- it is a phenomenal feat of control. However, if you ever hear her in the concert hall, she has a *huge* tone. That amazing legato lets her do something which I haven't seen another performer get away with, which is to change bows, sometimes repeatedly, in the middle of a long note, without any audible break in the sound at all (if you were just listening, rather than watching her, it would be impossible to tell the change in bow direction). This lets her burn lots of bow to get sound, avoiding the play-near-the-bridge-for-maximum-volume that many other soloists resort to.

With the exception of the third movement, where Hahn's sheer speed creates a wonderfully visceral, exciting performance, I prefer Shaham's Barber, which sings more and sounds emotionally much less restrained. (By temperament, Hahn seems to be a classicist in the mold of Grumiaux and Milstein. Shaham is much more of a romantic player.)

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Just on the topic of Hahn/Shaham, I think Hilary Hahn is a wonderful violinist and I really like the way she plays apart from one thing: her vibrato.

When I first start listening to her I think, 'oh yes, this is all very lovely' but after a while, I start to wonder if she can do more than just one type of vibrato. It really grates on my nerves after about half an hour.

I haven't heard her recording of the Barber concerto but I have heard her play it in concert and I have also heard Shaham's recording. Gil's playing style is much more to my taste and I prefer his recording of the Barber.

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