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News and commentary about learning, playing and teaching the violin. weekend vote: Have you ever been bullied or teased for playing the violin or other instrument?

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 19:51:14 GMT

By Laurie Niles: This week we have been having a long discussion in response to an eighth-grade boy that has been insulted for playing the violin, and many of our members have responded with sensitivity and wisdom.
On the positive side, playing the violin or other instrument is a special activity; not everyone has the opportunity to try it, much less become an accomplished instrumentalist. On the negative side, that leaves some room for those who are unfamiliar with music or who feel left out to mock the activity as "elitist" or worse. And carrying an instrument is not like carrying a cell phone -- it's a conspicuous object. Even if no one is making fun of you, probably people do comment, ask questions and notice the instrument you are carrying! For someone who doesn't want a lot of extra attention, that can be difficult. This vote is about unpleasant attention, not friendly teasing. Has anyone made you feel bad for playing an instrument? And was it a situation of unpleasant teasing and attention, or did it cross the line of bullying, making you feel threatened? In the comments, please share how you have dealt with such situations and how you would advise others who face this kind of harassment. src="" frameborder="0" height="230" scrolling="auto" width="450"> You might also like:

Violinist Hilary Hahn Gets Creative with Her 'Retrospective'

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:35:41 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Though much of our modern cultural diet is served in digital soundbites and clips, the latest recording from violinist Hilary Hahn is an emphatically analog creation, from its direct-to-disc pressing to its cover art. Sure, you can still get it digitally, on CD or on Spotify, but she's gone out of her way to provide a gorgeous physical object of art in the vinyl release of her latest project, Retrospective, a compilation of selections from her last 12 recordings with Deutsche Grammophon as well as a recent live recital recording. "It was really nice to be part of the process," Hilary said to me Sunday, speaking on the phone from London, where she was performing in a benefit concert for the Refugee Council. She explained that when record companies re-group and re-issue an artist's recorded works, the artist sometimes finds out only after the final product has gone public. Such was the case with Hahn's early recordings for Sony. But in the case of "Retrospective," Deutsche Grammophon enlisted Hilary's input for the entire process. One of Hilary's top requests was: "Can we do a vinyl release?" The answer was, "Yes." Not only did they do a vinyl release, but they chose a challenging early 20th-century recording technique -- direct-to-disc -- to create it. "This was done kind of as an experiment in recording technology, revisiting this direct-to-disc technology," Hilary said. It required her to agree to a live, unedited recording -- a request she welcomed. "I was really curious to try it," Hilary said. "I grew up with LP's and vinyl in the house, so I was thinking, why not go back to the original way? Let's see what that actually sounds like!" While one of the LPs in "Retrospective" contains the previously-recorded pieces, the other LP features a live 2016 performance of Hilary in recital with pianist Cory (Smythe), performing Mozart's Sonata For Piano And Violin In G Major, K.379 as well as two pieces from her Encores album, "Hilary’s Hoedown" by Mark-Anthony Turnage and "Mercy" by Max Richter. It was recorded the old-fashioned way: directly onto an analog disc master. Hilary Hahn performs with pianist Cory Smythe, in a recital that was recorded direct-to-disc for "Retrospective." Photo by Stefan Höderath, courtesy Deutsche Grammophon. As DG describes the process: "While Hilary Hahn and Cory Smythe were performing works by Mozart, Turnage and Richter in Berlin’s Meistersaal, a stylus was cutting their interpretation directly into the grooves of the master disc. As a result, the recording could not be subsequently edited, remixed or modified in any way. The master discs produced by this process then served as the mold for the pressings. This means that every single LP is an identical analog copy of the original....Hahn is the first artist to present a direct-to-disc pressing on Deutsche Grammophon since the end of the shellac era." Not only that, but recording to a vinyl master, rather than a digital master, also meant that the tracks were permanently set. Once cut, an album side cannot be excerpted or changed. "So it was not even just that they couldn't edit, it also meant that what was on a side was a side," Hilary said. "It's the whole side, or nothing!" After the master was cut, "I got to sign the wax -- and it was very scary!" They told her not to go outside the lines, or she would ruin the entire side of the album. "So I was trying to write my name but not bump with my hands -- I basically scratched it in as a signature!" The remainder of the album includes selections from recordings made over a period of 15 years, from the time that Hilary was 23 until now. It includes a huge range of music -- for example, a movement from the Bach Double; Vaughan Williams' "The Lark Ascending"; a movement from the Violin Concerto that Jennifer Higdon wrote for Hilary (for which Higdon won a Pulitzer Prize); a movement from the Schoenberg Concerto and another from an Ives Sonata; a piece from her collaboration with Hauschka and more. Hilary actually chose all the tracks he[...]

For the Record, Op. 41: Johnny Gandelsman's Bach S & Ps; Hilary Hahn's 'Retrospective'; Alfredo Campoli collection

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:54:35 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Welcome to "For the Record,"'s weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening! Johnny Gandelsman. Bach’s Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Johnny Gandelsman Johnny Gandelsman, a member of the Silk Road Ensemble and a founding member of Brooklyn Rider, makes his solo album debut with J.S. Bach: Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Violin. The project was launched in 2015: "After spending more than a decade working in collaborative settings, I wanted to focus inward and look for my own voice again," Gandelsman said. "I also suspected that, having worked with non-classical musicians like Iranian kamancheh legend Kayhan Kalhor, master Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, and American composer and banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, my understanding of Bach’s music would evolve, if I gave it the proper focus." That year, Gandelsman performed Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas on 15 occasions. Lloyd Schwartz, describing a live performance on NPR’s Fresh Air, said: "I’ve heard some famous violinists attempt this epic feat, but none of them gripped me and delighted me as thoroughly as Gandelsman." Raised in a musical family in Russia and Israel, Gandelsman began his studies with Natalya Boyarskaya, continuing with Felix Andrievsky and Maya Glezarova, legendary pedagogues of the Russian violin school. After winning medals at the Menuhin and Kreisler International Violin Competitions, he moved to the U.S., where he studied with Jascha Brodsky and Arnold Steinhardt at the Curtis Institute of Music. BELOW: Johnny Gandelsman performs the complete Bach Sonatas & Partitas in 2015: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Retrospective Hilary Hahn Hilary Hahn's latest is an album that showcases all 12 of her recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, along with a new, unedited live performance from a 2016 Berlin recital with pianist Cory Smythe. The LP version was recorded using rare direct-to-disc technique. The recording includes the live performance of Mozart's Sonata KV 379, in addition to Max Richter's “Mercy” and Tina Davidson's “Blue Curve of the Earth,” with pianist Cory Smythe, from In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. The double-disc LP version, which has fewer tracks overall but incorporates some additional favorite tracks, replaces “Blue Curve of the Earth” with the live recording of Mark-Anthony Turnage's “Hilary’s Hoedown,” which is also from her Encores project. In assembling this compilation, she listened to all of her DG recordings from beginning to end and realized that certain movements and pieces resonated particularly strongly with her musical trajectory. For the album art, Hilary chose from the hundreds of pieces of art given to her by fans, with the cover art by Christine Fraser. BELOW: Hilary Hahn and pianist Cory Smythe perform "Mercy," by Max Richter. The new album contains a live version of this piece, which was written for Hilary as part of her encores project, In 27 Pieces. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Alfredo Campoli: The Bel Canto Violin:Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3Volume 4Volume 5Volume 6Alfredo Campoli, violin George Malcolm, piano, harpsichord Born in Rome, and taught by his father who had been a professional violinist there, Campoli grew up in London listening to and learning from records of the great singers of the age: he subsequently toured with Nellie Melba and Clara Butt. Accordingly, his own playing was often likened to bel canto singing, which had its own stylistic roots in Italian Baroque principles of melodic phrasing and opportunities for virtuoso display. All the recordings in this series were remastered from original D[...]

Remembering Violinist and Teacher Shirley Givens

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:32:34 GMT

By Elizabeth Faidley: There are a few people responsible for giving my life the shape and path it has taken, but none so significant as Shirley Givens. Shirley was my violin teacher at the Peabody Conservatory, and she passed away a week ago at the age of 86. She also taught at The Juilliard School, Mannes College and the New School; and among her many successful students were Pamela Frank, Joseph Lin, and David Kim. Shirley Givens. I'm sure than many of her students feel the way I do about her. There were many wonderful life lessons that she taught us all, collectively, through the years. When you are a student at music school, surrounded by the best and the brightest, you doubt yourself and your ability to be competitive at some point during the journey. Shirley used to say, "If you want it enough and work hard enough, you will find your place." When my students come to me now and ask that question, "Am I good enough?" I give them her answer. There is a niche for you if you want it. Those are such important and powerful words coming from a mentor and teacher. Born in Canton, Ohio, Shirley grew up in Hollywood and was a child actor. It is clear why she began her life as an actress, in the public eye: she had a light within her that burned so brightly that it could not be contained. She had a beautiful smile and electric, focused eyes. Her hair was always perfect. She probably could have continued her life in Hollywood -- besides her obvious stage skills, Shirley had a beautiful singing voice. In fact we sang a lot in lessons! My students can attest that I also sing constantly in lessons, but unfortunately for them, I do not have her lilting voice. Shirley was also an incredible visual artist. There is a video that she and her husband, cellist Harry Wimmer, made a few years ago that takes the viewer on a tour of her art portfolio, and it is quite incredible. To be so multi-talented must have been exhausting! Her Adventures in Violin Land books are a tribute to her creativity and love for children. She brings children into a whole world of music -- of violin -- and the drawings and exercises are whimsical and exquisite. Shirley's ability to teach and engage students from age five through 25 was incredible. The majority of teachers specialize in a certain area or feel more comfortable teaching a certain age group. I feel I am at my best with my teenagers. Shirley was her best with everyone, from a 6-year-old playing in ViolinLand Book 2 to Brahms Concerto with a master's degree student (me). Shirley believed in communicating everything - showing artistry through speaking, practicing, thinking, performing - every aspect of music. One of my favorite memories is of one student (who shall remain nameless, it was not me!) who walked on stage during studio class in Goodwin Hall, and Shirley asked her, "What do you have to say about Tambourin Chinois?" (by Fritz Kreisler). The student answered, "I don't really have much to say about it..." Shirley quickly said, "Then we don't want to hear it. You must have something to say." I also recall making a mistake in studio class myself. After someone's beautiful performance, I said, "Good job, Jina!" as a precursor to my comments. She interrupted me, looked at me like I was insane, and said, "Elizabeth, performing is not a job. This is not WORK, this is not a JOB, this is JOY." From then on, I was very careful with my approach to music and commenting on others, and even with my way of thinking. I have asked a few of my studio mates and other students of hers if they have words that come to mind when they think of Shirley. The list is pretty incredible. A few words showed up on EVERY single list: "Warm" is the first one, and she certainly exuded warmth. Even if you played terribly and weren't prepared enough (never me), you could see that she was disappointed and slightly irritated, but she even criticized with warmth. Another word that I heard constantly was "nurturing." We all really loved h[...]

The Privilege of Being a Musician: A Personal Perspective

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:51:52 GMT

By Joshua Iyer: At 3:30am this morning, I awoke from a dream of me writing a section of my Henry V tone-poem for chamber orchestra. Of course, I raced to my desk and scribbled down as much as I could remember: a Copland-esque brass melody under pentatonic violin/oboe. I even found a specific spot in my piece for this moment, right when England emerges victorious from the War that has been taken place throughout the entirety of the piece, right at the end. Obviously, there was so much more music from my dream that is now lost from my memory, and in my half-awake state I was free-composing a little, making what my unconscious mind had came up with link directly into the music I had already written. Either way, it was a really magical experience, one I can't say I've had before in my five years as a composer. Besides also dreaming about my favorite YouTubers, I then awoke to Augustana's Symposium Day on Privilege, and as I went to a couple events during the day, I thought about how I view my privilege of being able to be educated, to study music, and what I can do with music in my future, since my future is something I've been also spending lots of time pondering over lately - I'm going to graduate next year! It's scary to think about - of course, even scarier after grad school. I think of all mediums of Art as a distraction from the rigors of life, whether that be films, television shows, video games, paintings, books, compact discs, YouTube videos, etc. Some more than others, I think all mediums of Art are valid in their own right and have different meanings to different people. I've been starting to look at video games differently, mainly since Zelda: Breath of the Wild, on the development team of that game and how it can offer a creator's (Mr. Aonuma's) imagination This could be in an epic cinematic sense or a commentary on life and valuing nature and farming, which Stardew Valley, a game I've been watching through, kind of has. (An interesting idea about video game music is that the player is the performer of this chance music - a composer can't control when the player presses START or completes a level!) It's the same way with movies and books, too - rather than solely getting engrossed in the characters and story, I've started picking apart plot events and looking at commentary and analyses. What about music? It is, after all, our Art. I find it really special that music takes a very important role in games and movies, and if I truly am going to continue into composing for those mediums in my future, I'll of course appreciate this fact more and more. But music also lives outside of these forms as its own thing. I'm starting to gear a lot of my concert music towards telling stories and being more cinematic with my style. I love program music; I love the idea of combining these sound worlds together. Living in the 21st century like we are, we have the privilege as composers (and performers) of being exposed to everything. There are so many styles and genres that it is overwhelming when being exposed to it all. I've taken little bits of inspiration from video game and film soundtracks as well as the concert music of Copland and Ravel, and introducing Classical forms as Mozart would have, all within the same Henry V tone-poem I'm writing. It allows my music to always be moving, yet I keep organicism within the piece with leitmotifs, and keeping with my own personal style even if I'm slightly changing genres. One of the sessions I went to talked about viewing privilege in a negative sense. For example, I love the freedom to mix this all together, yet I do it in a way that makes coherent sense. It would not make sense, unless you are intentionally writing a piece for this manner, to write exactly like Haydn, then jar the listener's ear with Finzi. The fact we have so many styles to choose from can be viewed in a negative way. The privilege of choice is not always a good thing. (This doesn't really relate[...]

The Week in Reviews, Op. 213: Baiba Skride; Augustin Hadelich; Itzhak Perlman

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:28:03 GMT

By Laurie Niles: In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world. Baiba Skride performed the Tchaikovsky with the New York Philharmonic.The New York Times: "Her distinctive sound — full-bodied and sumptuous but never forced — ideally suited the passages of melting lyricism and nobility. She brought tender grace to the rueful slow movement. And, with the alert Ms. Malkki there to keep the orchestra right with her, Ms. Skride tore through the breathless finale with impetuous energy and impressive precision."Zeal NYC: "Mälkki and soloist had an easy, collaborative rapport, and Skride paced her performance carefully, with ample reserves in store to sail into the energetic finale...."Skride dazzled in the dizzying cadenza’s teetering tightrope walk of harmonics and glissandos." Baiba Skride. Photo by Marco Borggreve. Augustin Hadelich performed the Britten with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "In the hands of the brilliant violinist Augustin Hadelich, the audience was kept appropriately off-balance throughout, while marveling at the beauty of his tone and his spectacular technique. The cadenza that closes the second movement was spectacular. Robertson and the orchestra provided an ideal accompaniment." Philippe Quint performed Bernstein’s "Serenade after Plato’s 'Symposium'" with the Milwaukee Symphony.Journal Sentinel: "Quint captured the character of the five movements with musical depth and a seamless combination of varied, flexible dynamics, colors and textures of sound, and articulations, sculpting those technical elements into mesmerizing communication." Itzhak Perlman performed the Bach with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.Los Angeles Times: "Perlman’s musical outlook these days continues to be weighty, serious and impervious to whatever trends happen to be in vogue....His violin playing remained in shape, with just enough songful sweetness in the slow movement, though recessed in volume within the compact ensemble of just 24 players." Fabio Biondi performed concerti by Vivaldi with Europa Galante.Los Angeles Times: "It takes considerable flair to bring this kind of thing off. Biondi and his excellent ensemble of nine strings, harpsichord and lute have, instead, more grace than flair. They make an agreeable sound. But the more stunning colors and character they exhibit on their Vivaldi recordings dim in a large hall, even one with Disney’s acoustics."Washington Classical Review: "Europa Galante’s sizzling recordings have brought a number of unknown operas and orchestral works to inquisitive listeners. The Italian group’s live performances, most recently at Shriver Hall in 2016, are generally not at the same level of technically polished achievement, but add an element of visceral excitement that can be lacking on disc. A thrilling concert Friday night at the Library of Congress, a decade after its last visit there, was in the same category." David Coucheron performed Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.Arts ATL: " proved an especially splendid choice of solo repertoire for Coucheron, showing vividly how far his playing has come in the seven and a half years since he joined the ASO as concertmaster in September 2010 – at the time the youngest concertmaster among all major US orchestras." Steven Copes performed the Beethoven with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.Pioneer Press: "When the orchestra would pump up the drama, Copes would invariably become an emissary of calm, maintaining a smooth subtlety even when the lines were lightning quick, fiery or forceful. An extended first movement cadenza served as a reminder of Copes’ confident imagination, while the sprightly finale danced with delight."Star Tribune: "The performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto had similar qualities of joy and [...]

Ear's the Thing - Lessons from Robert Mann's Inspired Playing

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 17:44:23 GMT

By Paul Stein: Some of the best violin lessons can be found for free on Amazon Prime. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Speak the Music, the documentary about Robert Mann, being offered along side the usual comedy and action films. He was the founding violinist of the Juilliard Quartet, a position he held for over 50 years. Mann died on New Year's Day, at the age of 97. Watching Mann play when he was older, I think in his mid-70’s, I noticed an unconventional bow hold in which his knuckles were raised quite high and the fingers would squeeze together. His hand looked cramped, and very different from the Franco-Belgian bow hold he usually assumed. His naturally spaced fingers, normally relaxed and flexible, became transformed into what looked like a claw, and yet were still perfectly functional. Even though his early videos, when he was in his 40’s, showed a more perfect-looking bow hold, I thought that how he looked was less relevant than how he balanced his thoughts and observations. His musical foundation guided his playing from on high. Robert Mann. What is this thing we call by many names: talent, ear, natural ability, musical instinct? As I absorbed Mann’s essence in this marvelous film, I was thinking about things that weren’t visible to the eye. What rose above the hand’s inevitable cramping and other earthly concerns were his amazing ear and musical lifeblood, this vital and life-giving force. How can we harness this source, which guides our hands and controls our rhythm? How can we develop that which guides our finger to the right pitch, even when our wrist is cramped and crooked? When Mann reflected on his musical inspirations as a boy, he shared a remarkable insight. "What was musical inside of me was not known to my consciousness." Each of us has this musical force that defines us and casts its DNA on the technical exercises we practice every day. Perhaps the most important thing to develop is our musical foundation. If we don’t, the cracks will forever seek dominance. How the Ear Paves the Way When I think of someone having a good ear, it means more than just playing in tune. It includes:Rhythm which takes into account other people playing. There’s nothing wrong with performing in a grand manner, but if it becomes a mannerism, you’ll have trouble fitting into a group.Matching the general sound of those around you. While our reflexes are fast when it comes to moving the bow on the strings, we need a "manager" in our head that precedes every part of the phrase. Otherwise, those fast reflexes, which generally serve us so well, become too fast. We should develop the part of our thinking that notices the shape of the music and the general energy level before moving the bow. That’s the logical thing to do.Knowing what the fabric of the sound should feel like. The general way tone production is described lends itself to bad habits. For instance, just saying that the index finger should apply pressure for more sound will often induce scratching and tension. It’s not the fault of the words. It’s how the student interprets them. If he or she has a more developed ear, the resulting sound will be velvety and smooth. Start With How We Hear the Printed Page Opening up our creative reservoir is sometimes as simple as hearing something that is obvious, but has never been stated. Twenty-five years ago I ran across a word which alerted me to a skill that I had never developed. "Audiation" describes the ability to look at printed music and hear it my head, even before I play it. Coined by Edwin Gordon in 1975, he suggested that "audiation is to music as thought is to language." Why this was such a breakthrough sheds light on the connection we make between our ears and our actual playing. When you’re young, it's easy to overlook that there’s a disconnect between the two things. But here’s the thing: just paying attention to the pur[...] weekend vote: Would you miss a flight to keep your instrument out of cargo?

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:00:44 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Over the last week there has been a lot of discussion about an incident in which a viola da gamba was destroyed when it was put in the cargo hold on Alitalia airlines last week. Was it the airline's fault, for handling the item so roughly? Was it the owner's fault, for failing to purchase a ticket for the instrument and then allowing it to be put in cargo? A combination? Violinists and violists generally do not have to purchase an extra ticket for their instruments; we fly with the hope (and sometimes we can arrange more of a guarantee) that there will be room in an overhead compartment. But it doesn't always happen, and on occasion violinists have been told they must put their instruments in the cargo hold. Whether one says "yes" to that depends on a number of things: the value and age of the instrument; the case it's in; and generally weighing the risk of damage to the considerable inconvenience of missing a flight.
People have missed flights to protect instruments: recently a violinist named Alex "Sasha" Petrin completely missed a flight - and missed the gig - to protect his 2008 Boris Sverdlik violin; and violinist Rachel Barton Pine also missed a flight to protect her 1742 Joseph Guarneri "del Gesu." In general, the risk, when it comes to cargo, is both the low temperature and the fact, no matter what is promised, that there is likely to be some rough handling and possibly the instrument would be put through some baggage transport machinery. Despite the risks, it takes some serious resolve and inconvenience to actually miss a flight. For this week's vote, imagine yourself in the position of having to miss a flight -- spend a night at the airport or find other accommodations and then hope they'll let you on with the instrument later -- in order to keep your instrument from being put in the cargo hold. Would you do it? Please participate in the vote, and then share your thoughts and experiences about the matter in the comments section. src="" frameborder="0" height="270" scrolling="auto" width="450"> You might also like:

For the Record, Op. 40: Augustin Hadelich Paganini Caprices; Ning Feng Bach S & Ps; Isabelle Faust Bach

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 21:52:30 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Welcome to "For the Record,"'s weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening! Paganini: 24 Caprices Augustin Hadelich, violin
Augustin Hadelich performs the 24 Caprices for solo violin by Nicolo Paganini with an elegance that has come to characterize his playing in the 12 years since he won the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. Please see our interview with Augustin Hadelich for his in-depth thoughts about Paganini and recording, which is his debut with Warner Classics, after his 2015 Warner Prize. More recently, Hadelich won a 2016 Grammy for his recording of Dutilleux's Violin Concerto and Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year 2018. BELOW: Paganini Caprice No. 17 makes Hadelich think of the cats at the Hadelich farm in Italy - and that inspired this video, directed by Paul Glickman and animated by Tam King:
width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Bach: Sonatas & Partitas Ning Feng, violin
Performing on a 1721 Stradivari, Chinese violinist Ning Feng performs these solo works that are at the heart of the violin repertoire. BELOW: Ning Feng performs the "Sarabande" from Partita No.2 in D minor by J.S. Bach (filmed at the Royal Academy of Music, London, in February 2015):
width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord Isabelle Faust, violin Kristian Bezuidenhout, harpsichord
Notes on this recording: "Trio writing enabled Baroque composers to test their ability to synthesize counterpoint, melody and harmony. Constantly revised throughout his life, this compositional ideal was never more perfectly achieved then by Bach's rare sonatas for violin and obbligato harpsichord. This duet for three voices sparkles in performances from Isabelle Faust and Kristian Bezuidenhout." BELOW: A 2014 interview with Isabelle Faust and Kristian Bezuidenhout.
width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> If you have a new recording you would like us to consider for inclusion in our Thursday "For the Record" feature, please e-mail Editor Laurie Niles. Be sure to include the name of your album, a link to it and a short description of what it includes. You might also like:

Is It Possible to Prevent Instrument Destruction on Airlines?

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 03:12:54 GMT

By Laurie Niles: After the most recent incident in which a precious stringed instrument was destroyed by baggage handlers, I'd love to present everyone with a tidy list of "How You Can Avoid Having Your Instrument Destroyed by Airlines." Unfortunately it would be a short list:Never fly with your instrument. There are certainly some complications to last week's story, but this was still one of the most distressing cases I've seen of a valuable stringed instrument being destroyed in transit. On Jan. 3, Myrna Herzog, director of the Israel-based early music ensemble Phoenix and teacher at the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv, was flying with her viola da gamba from Rio de Janeiro to Tel Aviv, with a layover in Rome. A viola da gamba is not actually a "viola" but is a larger instrument, more like a kind of cello with seven strings. This one happened to be a rare and valuable instrument: a 1685 Edward Lewis viol, built in London. It had been restored in 2001 by John Topham and Yuval Adereth. A soloist and ensemble player who has performed Europe, North and South America and Israel, Herzog had traveled frequently with the instrument, she said. Traveling on the Italian airline Alitalia, Herzog was told there was no space on the flight for the viol. The airline, in a statement that was widely circulated, claims that she "was presented with the possibility to buy an 'extra seat' but she refused and signed a limited release form (a disclaimer of liability) after being informed that the best solution for such a delicate item was to bring it in the cabin." Herzog has maintained that she tried to purchase a second seat for the instrument but was told that none was available. In either case, Herzog allowed the instrument to be placed in cargo, and she told The Strad that she was "assured it would be taken by hand and treated as a fragile item." She did not receive the instrument back in Rome, instead it was transferred with the rest of the luggage to the flight to Tel Aviv. After her arrival in Tel Aviv, she still did not receive the instrument back, so she went to baggage claim, where she found the instrument very badly damaged. Herzog's viola da gamba, after arriving in Tel Aviv. This image was posted on Herzog's Facebook page. The viola da gamba was in a German Gewa hard case with several red "Fragile" tags. Its bridge, soundpost, pegs, strings or tailpiece had been removed, to ensure safety. The pictures that Herzog posted on Facebook are indeed horrifying, showing broken ribs and half of the viola da gamba's body smashed in. "It was savagely vandalized, it and it seems that a car ran over it," Herzog said on her Facebook page. Ultimately, Alitalia said that it "deeply regrets what happened and will proceed, having established the facts, with the reimbursement in compliance with the international regulations in force." We'll see what happens. Whatever the rules and realities are, no one should have a personal possession destroyed in this way. The airlines must do better than this. Could this have been avoided? Well, hindsight is 20/20. But here are some take-aways:The only way to guarantee safe transport of a cello-sized stringed instrument is to buy it an extra seat at the time you book your own seat. (Though you still might have to fight to get it on the plane)Do not ever place your valuable stringed instrument in cargo on an airplane: it is too cold, not pressurized, and the reality is that the baggage handlers are not accustomed to handling fragile and precious luggage.If you have a very valuable instrument, always be prepared to refuse to board a plane in order to protect the instrument. You'll need some steel resolve to carry this out, as it will never be a convenient option. You will want to simply board the plane, get to your destination and hope for [...]