The Week in Hope-Inspiring Spontaneous Music Online, Op. 6

April 21, 2020, 6:41 AM · Adjusting to isolation has gone quite nicely for me. I’ve always had imaginary friends. Now many of them are actually inviting me into their living rooms to hear them play and (thanks to "Fiddlers’ Favorite Recipes") their kitchens to watch them cook. I get as much pleasure from their music as I do from seeing their various abodes. Who has the most interesting bookshelves (Martin Chalifour), who makes the strongest Cosmo (Ida Kavafian), and who is quarantined with the sweetest pet (David Gerstein)?

So when Laurie asked me to help assemble Opus 6 of "Hope-Inspiring Spontaneous Music," I was only too happy to put my voyeuristic skills to work. From concertmasters of major and regional orchestras, to soloists, to chamber musicians, here are some recent inspirational, comforting, and humorous clips for your viewing pleasure.

Martin Chalifour, Principal Concertmaster, LA Philharmonic, plays an awe-inspiring potpourri of movements by Prokofiev, Bach, and Telemann. (As for his bookshelves, now here’s a man who actually seems to use his library! After watching so many home-based videos, I’m starting to get a little tired of the perfectly organized bookshelves with the obvious intellectual hardcover strategically turned outward.)

Violinist Sarah Kapustin single-handedly (well, with the help of five other Sarahs) takes on Piazzolla’s "Primavera Porteña," arranged by Desyatnikov/Kapustin.

Josh Henderson, of the Warp Trio, gives us a humorous take on life before, during, and after quarantine. I’ll have it your way, Josh!

David Gerstein, Principal Cellist, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, invites three of his closest friends (plus a very well-behaved four-legged pal) to perform Georg Goltermann’s gorgeous "Romance for Four Cellos."

Yi Zhao, Colorado Symphony’s Acting Associate Concertmaster, and her husband Young Kim, play Beethoven’s Duet No. 1 from "Three Duos." And if you think Mr. Kim is playing a horn, you'd be right!

Adam LaMotte, founder and director, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, and his wife, Janet, get schooled by a special guest on the stylistic nuances of "Turkey in the Straw." (Stay tuned until at least 0:30!) The duo is live streaming violin/piano recitals each Wednesday evening from their home.

Gabriel Lefkowitz, Concertmaster, Louisville Orchestra, and Julia Noone, his stand partner, play Prokofiev’s "Sonata for Two Violins," a piece they learned during the first week of social distancing. (I’m guessing they’re quarantining together!)

With symphony performances almost universally on hiatus, we've put "The Week in Reviews" on hold and instead bring you this roundup of online "quarantine" performances. If you’d like to share links of performances you’ve enjoyed, please do so in the comments or e-mail me for possible inclusion in a later opus.


April 21, 2020 at 06:54 PM · Thank you for featuring us Diana! Proud to be included amongst such esteemed company, including my friend Josh Henderson with whom I used to play rock band gigs in NYC!

-Gabriel Lefkowitz

April 22, 2020 at 12:35 PM · What a delightful set of performances, Diana! Thanks for bringing these to our attention, and thanks to the musicians who have made them. They all cheered me up during this socially distant time.

I've taken your challenge and found some additional interesting quarantine string (and more) performances for your readership. The first is the New York Philharmonic playing "Bolero." Here, the editing is very nice because each soloist's picture is featured in a large portion of the screen among the accompanying members' pictures scattered around the screen. The shadowy percussionist stays in the middle and is added to, subtracted from, and sometimes almost buried by entering and exiting musicians throughout. My favorite section is the trombones. They're a highly animated group.

The next one is the Jerusalem Street Orchestra playing "Eine Kleine Nachtmusic." Some of these musicians have household jokesters photobombing, and that adds to the fun. Also, the computer camera angles for the cellos and basses seem to enlarge those instruments disproportionately, so those musicians seem to be conquering awkwardness with ease!

The next is a selection by a couple of crazy teenagers of a variety of classical music quarantine performers. I don't know who these two guys are or where they live, but I think they both play violin, and I really like their enthusiasm. The most impressive selection they show is one in which a violinist and a harpist play "Schon Rosmarin" remotely! The violinist is shown on an iPad on a stand next to the harpist. The kids remark on how well the duo is able to play together given the internet lag time. Indeed!

The final performance was made in a home well before the quarantine, and the performer is no longer alive, but it is my all-time favorite interpretation of "The Swan." The performer is Clara Rockmore and her instrument is the Theremin. The way she is dressed and the expression on her face, and the fact that you really can't see where the sound is coming from, makes me think of her as a medium conjuring up the sound--magnificently expressive--otherworldly.

April 22, 2020 at 02:26 PM · In my high school days I was roped in by the local still-amateur Mountview Theatre Club to as The Fiddler in Eugene O'Neill's "Desire Under The Elms" (My one spoken line, "I'm exharsted", however, was transferred to the Caller, either because of my not yet broken voice or because of lack of training in using what was considered an American accent, or both) and the tune I was asked to play was called by them, "Turkey In The Straw". The play was both above my head and below my belt! However, that's not why I am so confused now:

The tune I have just heard is not the tune I played. It would seem that the tune I played was a different square dance tune - at least, when I had heard it in primary school dances it was called a square dance tune! For those who know such tunes, it started with a downward octave jump from first quaver to the second quaver, followed by 4 semiquavers, r-u-d-d, followed by two more quavers d-u, followed by the same 4 semiquavers ...

April 22, 2020 at 03:11 PM · Gabriel: What a wild coincidence that you and Josh have played together! Your rendition of the Prokofiev was wonderful! I'm so glad you posted it for us to find!

John: Your story really had me laughing! (I'm sorry your theatrical debuts quickly came to an end.) As to your question on the tune, I could very well be wrong on this one and you are most likely correct. There was a song when I was a kid that had lyrics along the lines of "Did you ever ever ever in your long-legged life know a long-legged sailor with a long-legged wife." Anyway, I thought those lyrics were actually sung to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw" and that's what I thought I heard in the clip. But I'm giving you this one and I'm hoping someone else can properly name the tune in the clip.

April 22, 2020 at 08:50 PM · Josh Henderson was fun. Either he stacked a lot of reverb on his recording or he played it in his bathroom. LOL

As for Chalifour's bookshelves, I think ol' Ben Franklin got it right: Keep your books in the library where others can use them too. I do have an extensive collection of chemistry books in my VT office, but I do refer to many of them from time to time. I could probably afford to do some Marie Kondo action on them though.

April 22, 2020 at 09:27 PM · This is truly wonderful. Thanks everyone, and please keep this page coming, Laurie and Diana.

It's especially appreciated by those of us tucked into tiny city boxes without gardens. I had a "Children's garden of verses" when I was a child. This is my musical garden at the moment. It's thoroughly sane-making.

For a different flavour (should that be scent?) Ilana Cravitz of the London Kletzmer Quartet is putting together A Nign A Day with kletzmer fiddlers from round the world. Nign is Yiddish for tune and these tunes were collected in Russia in the early C20th. If you haven't heard kletzmer music before, here's LKQ playing a Nign (and a Bulgar at 3 28) in Sydney a few years ago:">


April 22, 2020 at 10:51 PM · Enjoyed these clips!!

April 22, 2020 at 11:15 PM · Paul: I, too, thought Josh was fun! I'm all for using books, wherever they may be housed. (Clearly, Chalifour's are not for show.) I always look forward to your comments! (Now I have to look up Marie Kondo!)

Anish: Laurie's intention is to keep providing quarantine clips for as long as they are needed. As we're selecting them each week, knowing this is your "musical garden" will truly be inspirational! As for Klezmer, my husband is Jewish so I am quite familiar! That said, I didn't know about A Nign a Day, nor had I heard of LKQ. Thank you for bringing both to our attention! And thank you for your lovely comment. I had a copy of "A Child's Garden of Verses" as well. Thanks for the memory!

To 73: Thank you for these suggestions! I will watch each and every one with great interest!

To 69: You are most welcome!

April 23, 2020 at 05:19 AM · That was an extremely eclectic selection of music! I loved it. I've never heard any of that music before so thank you for exposing me to all of it. And thank you for all the humor and fun. It’s exactly what we all need now. Between your sense of humor (talking about Chalifour’s bookshelves, etc.) and the humor in so many of the selections, reading and listening to this was a wonderful escape. The end of the Piazzolla was quite a surprise! Josh Henderson made me laugh out loud. And of course Phyllis, the Great Dane, sitting and listening to the 4 cellists was a delightful touch. David Gerstein was right. I never heard of Georg Goltermann but I loved the music. But the pièce de résistance was listening to the Prokofiev played so beautifully by Gabe Lefkowitz who I know from when he was with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Thanks for including that and for all the wonderful music.

April 23, 2020 at 12:34 PM · Joe: I'm so glad you enjoyed the selection! I admit that much of the music was new to me as well. I didn't know either of the Prokofiev pieces, the Piazzolla, nor the Goltermann, all of which I enjoyed tremendously! And, yes, great to see Gabe again! Thanks for listening and commenting!

April 24, 2020 at 04:47 PM · Diana, Marie Kondo is the person who said that you should get rid of anything that doesn't bring you joy. Kind of a minimalist feng shui approach. Now you know as much as I do. LOL

April 24, 2020 at 04:52 PM · Paul: I actually looked her up! I think it's safe to use her name as a verb, as in "I'm now going to Marie Kondo my closet." (I wonder if her ideological approach can be used for people as well as things? Hmmmm.)

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