September 2013

Idle listening and thoughts.

September 24, 2013 15:29

last night I had a rare opportunity to go on a mild listening binge so here are my idle thoughts for what little they are worth.

First I felt I needed the Beethoven and since I revere Vengerov for both his musicianship and technique I started with him. The difficulty of the Beethoven is possibly deciding if it is Romantic or classical in a very loose sense. Venegerov clearly errs toward the former and I have to confess I disliked this version a great deal. Of course he has a wonderful sound but it seemed like he was trying to show off his musicality as if to say 'look at me. look at how deeply I interpret every note. ' For me the effect was over blown, lacking in flow and rather boring.

To get rid of the sense of disappointment I went back to Oistrakh live with Boult and the LSO . What a relief! Oistrakh past his prime but still absolute master musician and player. Naturalness, flow and humility is restored. An interesting point connected to other discussions on this site: it is said by some great violinists on this site that the correct way to play is with a flat bow hair and then great players and teachers are cited to, quite validly support this claim. This is not the way the Franco Belgian school played and it is patently obvious from these videos that Oistrakh is using an extremely tight bow hair and tilting the bow a great deal, especially throughout the slow movement where his sound is just magnificent.

Moved on to a player (Erick Friedman) I only knew through the Heifetz master class (disappointing) and the most exquisite recording of the Franck Sonata. First viewed a bob-bon by Debussy that was a charming tribute to Heifetz.Most striking impression was how desperately ill he clearly was. A huge man who seemed to me to be to have the grey look of fighting a losing battle against cancer. Second thought was how intense, precise and charming how playing was. Third thought was'why should such a huge, powerful man with such a wonderful technique have what seemed to be a relatively small sound?' Even with a mike on his short front it was, to my ears an introverted sound. Was the cause some kind of psychological trauma or did he not have a good enough violin?

Listened to his Preludeam and Allegro which is also fantastic. Decent tempo, great precision and classic spiccato. the playing of someone who really know their stuff. This is a player everyone should know.

Moved onto Paginini one with Mintz. The contrast in sheer quantity of sound was vast. Of course, Mintz was playing on el Cannon which some say is the most powerful violin around. Mintz is one of the all time greats and this recording is up there with the top handful. Only players such as Kogan, the young vengerov and Hirschhorn are technically a little better in my book. If you like crash bang Paginini this is hard to beat although the video is lousy. A great musician and violinist.

Well, that' s about it. Hope it was of a little interest.


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