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News and commentary about learning, playing and teaching the violin.


Visiting David Fulton, collector of Strads, del Gesùs and more.

Tue, 23 May 2017 02:38:41 GMT

By Laurie Niles: There is a man in Seattle who collects violins... I first heard of David Fulton a while back, when I first interviewed James Ehnes. At the time, Ehnes had just come out with an album called Homage, which celebrated 12 of the finest violins and violas ever made by Stradivari, del Gesu, Guarneri, Bertolotti and Guadagnini. Who owned these violins? The answer was David Fulton, an amateur violinist and founder of Fox Software, which was purchased in the early 1990s by Microsoft. Now living in Seattle, he had a impressive instrument collection -- some 22 instruments at that time -- that he had been building ever since he caught the bug in the early 1980's. It would seem that Fulton caught that bug from Dr. William Sloan, who is a friend of mine, and a friend to many violinists and violin makers across the globe. Sloan is the Los Angeles-based urologist who owns the 1714 "Leonora Jackson" Stradivari and a 1742 Guarneri Del Gesu. Sloan has also made several violins himself, and he throws an annual Handel Messiah reading party that I've attended and written about many times here on In Fulton's words, Sloan is a "certifiable fiddle nut." Knowing Dr. Sloan, I can attest to that. The two met in college, at the University of Chicago, where both played in the University Symphony. Fulton was the concertmaster, but neither of them was a music major. They actually became good friends some 20 years later, when they found themselves living in Toledo, Ohio and recognized each other while attending an opera performance. At that time, Sloan was contemplating his first Strad purchase from Bein and Fushi of Chicago, and Fulton went along for the ride, literally. Soon later, Fulton bought a 1698 Pietro Guarneri of Mantua violin for more than the price of his home, and he has been collecting ever since. I met Fulton and his wife, Amy, in October, after a recital at Dr. Sloan's house. After a nice conversation, Fulton said, "If you are ever in Seattle, come by and see my violins." I wasn't sure if he was serious. After all, I'm not exactly James Ehnes or Joshua Bell or the late Isaac Stern - all personal friend's of Fulton's. Nonetheless, I decided that if I ever were in Seattle, a place I'd only visited once, I would certainly make an effort to come see the Fultons and those fiddles -- and make a report for everyone! As fate would have it, just a few months later my son announced that he wanted to attend a youth film festival in Seattle called NFFTY, which would be screening two of his films. Robert and I decided to go along -- and to factor in an extra day to see the sights. For me, seeing the sights meant: 1. good coffee and 2. Fulton's fiddles. Fortunately, the Fultons would be in town when we were there, and David encouraged me to take an Uber over to his house to see the collection, which he has thinned considerably. Over the years he has owned eight Strads, eight del Gesùs, and 14 other instruments (violins, violas and cellos) with names such as Bergonzi, Guadagnini, Amati, Rugeri, Montagnana and Testore. His bow collection included 17 Tourtes, 14 Pecattes and seven others, most collected with the help of bow experts Paul Childs and Charles Beare. So on a grey day in early May I headed to Fulton's house, nestled on a wooded hillside in Bellevue, overlooking the serene waters of Lake Washington. As I walked down the long driveway, I noticed the guest house -- Fulton had told me that its first guest was Isaac Stern, back when Stern was selling Fulton his 1737 "ex Panette, ex Balâtre" Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù. I approached the door, under a beautiful stained glass window. Fulton ushered me into his living room, with its panoramic views of the water, and I sat with him on the aqua green couch as he told me about his violins -- and violins in general. I was impressed with his deep knowledge of violins and their history, as well as his genuine interest in violinists and the music they make. "In this room, we have had the majority of the world's concert artists," Fulton said. He doesn't ex[...]

Types of Stand Partners

Mon, 22 May 2017 17:25:44 GMT

By Emily Kam: The Pro. How did I even end up sitting next to this prodigy?The Show-Off. Please stop playing the Sibelius violin concerto in d minor. I get it. Everyone gets it.The Whisperer. This is way more interesting than listening to the violas attempting to play louder!The Snacker. Half of you wishes he would stop crunching, half of you wants him to share.The Slacker. She never has a pencil. She already lost her music. You have to take on the role of the Responsible One (see number 21), otherwise you’ll both be dead. You’re kinda surprised that she remembered the concert was today. Oh look, she’s wearing black jeans instead of dress pants. “Yeah we sit in the back no sweat man no one will notice.”The Crush. I actually practiced that tough passage.The Jazz Musician. Probably knows what secondary dominants are and can sing and identify all the modes. I’m 5% annoyed and 95% secretly jealous of your mad skills.The Best Friend. You write messages to each other on the back of the music so the conductor won’t know you’re chatting.The Strong Silent Type. He never says anything and is really tall. You’re a little bit intimidated and too scared to talk to him.The Phone Addict. If you don’t stop playing Crossy Road, you’ll be flatter than that chicken.The Comedian. You wish you had something witty and clever to say back.The Klutz. She has a lot of nicks on her instrument, and her shoulder rest is always falling off. Somehow she sent your pencil flying into the void, and she knocked all of the music off the stand. Last week she nearly stabbed your eye out.The Violist. Plays so terrible, basically a violist. Also known as the Airbower. (Just kidding, I am a violist!)The Artist. All of your music is covered in doodles now. You’re pretty sure you even saw a blender scribbled in somewhere…The Restless One. Taps foot. Scratches head. Jiggles knee so hard that the stand shakes and your beloved mechanical pencil bumbles its way off the stand and falls to its death.The Snoozer. Should you wake her up, or just let her get what she deserves?The Persnickety One. He insists on marking in everything himself. He requires you to fold the edge of the page a certain way. The stand has to be just the right height and turned just the right way so there is equal viewing space.The Pluckety One. STOP PLUCKING ALREADY HOW MANY GLARES FROM THE CONDUCTOR WILL IT TAKE.The Cello Wannabe. He’s always turning his instrument upside-down and playing it like a cello. Just switch already.The Turtle/Hunchback. My back aches from watching you.The Responsible One. Your hero. He always has a pencil, always taped his music, knows what measure to start on, and he lends you his rosin, extra mute, and nail clippers.The One Who Can’t Turn Pages. She accidentally ripped your music too.The One Who’s Always Late. On the bright side, you get the whole stand to yourself.The One Who’s Always Tuning. Also known as the last one to finish tuning. Re-tunes every other rehearsal number.The One With Bad Handwriting and Can’t Spell. Did you write “energy” or “enmeyy”? Does that say “pesante” or “peasant”? How does one play like a peasant?The One Who Plays Out of Tune. And then everyone turns around to stare at you both after your stand partner finishes on something in between an F and an F# instead of an E, and you want nothing more than to protest your innocence. But it’s too late. Everyone already turned back around again. Your reputation has been established. Now you have to move to a new country.[...]

The Week in Reviews, Op. 182: Kyung Wha Chung, Leonidas Kavakos, Gil Shaham

Mon, 22 May 2017 16:24:02 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. Kyung Wha Chung performed the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin at Carnegie Hall.New York Classical Review: "For all its technical shortcomings, this recital made clear that Chung still has something worth sharing with audiences."New York Times: "You could appreciate her bravery in a marathon presentation of all six of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin at Carnegie Hall, but not entirely ignore the obvious difficulties involved."ZEALnyc: "No one who was there will ever forget it — or should: this was a performance for the ages...Bach lived in one of the great dance-cultures of all time, and Chung never quite forgets the dancing feet behind all the heart-stopping melodies and the drop-dead counterpoint." Kyung Wha Chung. Leonidas Kavakos performed the Brahms with the New York Philharmonic.The New York Times: "...a diffident, sometimes messy reading of Brahms’s Violin Concerto....Mr. Kavakos seemed most at ease in the first movement’s searching, experimental cadenza, where his playing felt elegant and personal." Gil Shaham performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the with the Houston Symphony.Texas Classical Review: "His performance was virtually flawless, with a prodigious technique and silky tone throughout. He made the most difficult passages sound easy, and his free use of the bow rarely produced a compressed tone." Satu Vanska performed Locatelli's The Harmonic Labyrinth with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.Daily Telegraph: "Vanska’s wonderful performance brought the whole audience to its feet."The Sydney Morning Herald: "It is nicknamed The Harmonic Labyrinth, though the harmonic language was rather static while Vanska turned triple somersaults backwards on the violin to meet its outrageous demands." Stephen Waarts performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Orchestra of St. Luke's.The New York Times: "In the first movement, which begins with a melancholic solo theme for violin, Mr. Waarts tapped into tensions within the Neo-Classical veneer of Prokofiev’s music. He played that melody with warm, soothing sound, but also a hint of anxiety." Frank Peter Zimmermann performed the Beethoven with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.The Straits Times: "Beethoven's Violin a work that seems to weather repeated outings, especially in the hands of a musical giant such as Zimmermann." Veronika Eberle also performed the Schumann with the San Francisco Symphony.The San Francisco Chronicle: "An alert soloist can, and in fact must, make a powerful case for (the Schumann concerto). Eberle, unfortunately, did not. This is not to deny the splendors of Eberle’s technical gifts. She boasts a beautiful string tone, at once warm in demeanor and dark in coloration, and she can dispatch demanding passagework accurately and with winning ease. I look forward to hearing her again in a more traditional showpiece by Mendelssohn, Sibelius or Tchaikovsky." Please support music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can![...] weekend vote: Have you ever damaged your violin, or had it damaged by someone or something else?

Fri, 19 May 2017 17:38:51 GMT

By Laurie Niles: A few days ago one of my students handed me her violin to tune at the beginning of her lesson, and to my great dismay I found a couple of very deep cracks running out of the right f-hole.
It was clearly a new injury; I am very familiar with her fiddle. It is a nice-quality student instrument that the family had recently purchased, which made it all the more painful. What happened? It could have been the school field trip, in which the violin had been transported with a lot of other instruments, possibly jostled around, possibly left in a too-cold or too-warm vehicle. But I found another possible culprit: her violin case, in which the violin is quite elevated and the spinner for the bow is awfully low. She'd placed a cloth underneath the violin, elevating it further, and I could easily see a scenario where the lid came down and the spinner intersected with the wood. Thank goodness, they will take it to a good luthier, who should be able to diagnose the problem and fix the crack quite well. And possibly hook her up with a new case! But it is very, very upsetting when one finds damage on one's instrument, whether it is caused by blunt trauma, injury in transport, or the long-term use of something like a case or a tuner that cuts down into the wood. Most often, a good violin maker can fix most problems -- I've even heard of resurrecting a violin after it's been driven over by a car! But still, we want to avoid the damage in the first place! Have you ever damaged your violin, or had it damaged by something or someone else? Let us know what happened. Maybe your story will help someone else avoid the same fate! src="" frameborder="0" height="310" scrolling="auto" width="450"> Thank you to Morgan Watkins for sending me this vote idea! I invite you to e-mail me with your ideas! You might also like:

The elephant and the ant: ‘Learned helplessness’

Tue, 16 May 2017 13:40:49 GMT

By Simon Fischer: The following was originally going to be the last page of my book The Violin Lesson, but in the end I decided to delete it – partly because of the never-ending quest to try to lower the page-count, partly on the grounds that it went too far away from what the book was meant to be about, and partly because I always try to avoid anything that may be too "weird and wonderful." But I have regretted leaving it out ever since. It is, after all, something I frequently tell students, which is precisely what the book was meant to contain. So although at some point in the future it may be put back in "The Violin Lesson" in a revised edition, I thought it might be good to place it here as a blog meanwhile. * * * The great American business and motivational speaker Brian Tracy, among other "life-coaches" and teachers of accelerated learning, often raise the same interesting question: how do the owners of huge Indian elephants manage to get them to stand still so meekly, when the huge creatures are held only by a length of weak rope tied to a thin stick stuck carelessly into the ground? With one swish of their trunk they could knock their owner flying; with one tug they could pull the stick out of the ground. Why do they simply stand there instead? The traditional practice among elephant trainers in Asia is to chain the untrained baby elephant by its leg to a tree. However hard it fights to escape, it cannot break free from the heavy chain. Eventually the elephant gives up and accepts that there is nothing it can do. Later the chain is replaced by a heavy rope. The elephant kicks and pulls and tries to get away a few times, and then gives up. The rope is replaced with a heavy cord and after a few half-hearted tugs the elephant again gives up. The cord is replaced with a symbolic ribbon and the elephant will wait patiently for the owner to untie the ribbon before she attempts to move. This is called "learned helplessness." The elephant has learned to be helpless. Amazingly, even ants can suffer from "learned helplessness." In "The Gulag Archipelago," the Russian dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn described watching a fellow prisoner torturing an ant while they were in a prison camp in the Gulag. The prisoner, called Zek, found the ant in the bottom of his empty teacup. The ant was trying to crawl out, and when it reached the top Zek gently knocked it back down to the bottom. The ant tried to crawl out again, and again when it reached the top Zek pushed it down. The ant climbed up the side of the cup 182 times, and 182 times Zek pushed him back down. Then the ant gave up. It never tried again to climb up the side of the cup. It simply sat at the bottom, occasionally wandering around, but never again trying to escape. Zek could even go away for a while and come back to find the ant still there. It had given up any attempt to be free. Q: How does "learned helplessness" apply to violin playing? Telling a student about "learned helplessness" can be the beginning of an entirely new chapter in the development of their violin playing. When you are a beginner there has to be a first time for everything – the first time you play in a high position, or trill with the fourth finger, or play a run of fast staccato, or begin to use vibrato, or do what seems to be a very long shift up or down the string, and so on – and negative images often go back to these first experiences. For example, imagine a nine year-old who is not yet an advanced player. She sees somebody else’s music open on the music stand. It is full of double stops. Out of interest she has a go at playing some. The double stops seem impossibly difficult: her hand feels tense; she cannot tell which note is out of tune; shifting to another double stop is difficult because the hand is gripping the neck of the violin like a clamp – and this is only the first double stop of a group of them. She quickly returns, gratefully, to the simple [...]

Mission Improvisation: Signing Up for Creative Strings Workshop

Tue, 16 May 2017 05:00:45 GMT

By Laurie Niles: I was trying to impress my daughter, 19, with my new electric violin, which admittedly, I have no idea what I'm going to do with, other than try to mitigate a kind of mid-life classical musician crisis. "Isn't it cool?" I said, plugging in the new five-string Yamaha Electric Violin and showing Natalie, as she lounged on the nearby couch, checking her phone. Though she doesn't play the violin, she has had the strange life circumstance of growing up amid hundreds of hours of ambient violin-lesson noise. She also has wide and eclectic tastes in music, from rap to classic rock, alt music and folk to "Claire de Lune." "I just have to figure out what to play on it," I admitted. She looked up. "Hmmm. How about....'Come On Eileen'?" she said, fiddling with her phone. The 80's pop song came pouring out of her phone. "Of course, challenge accepted." So I started playing along. Actually there's a lot of violin in that tune, and nice little licks. Once I'd figured them out, I tried to change them up a little. "How do you do that?" she said. "Okay here's another one." Bohemian Rhapsody? Sure, why not? I picked out the melody here, the harmony there, took a stab the guitar solo...Pretty fun, actually! "Okay give me another one," I said. "Stairway to Heaven." How does she even know that song, isn't it from the '70s? But actually it's kind of lovely on the violin, you can poke it up an octave in places, add a few little things here and there...I was actually having quite a lot of fun. "Mom, how can you do that?" Play by ear? Come on, I'm a Suzuki teacher! It was nice that she was impressed, but it was pretty clear to me that this is an extremely underdeveloped aspect of my playing: the ability to play by ear and improvise. Too much stumbling. And why can't I just immediately play what I hear in my head? Is there a way that I can strengthen that connection? And certainly I was playing it awfully safe. Well, my daughter would be going back to college, so no one would be giving me another musical improv quiz session any time soon. That's when I remembered Christian Howes, who contributes the occasional blog to His stated mission in life is to "help classical string players improvise and develop creativity in different musical styles." I've attended a number of his workshops and found them intriguing. I remembered, he has a summer camp called Creative Strings Workshop -- in fact, there is a division of it for adults. Hmmmm. Later, I found myself talking to my stand partner at a symphony gig about my new electric violin. "What are you going to do with it?" she said. "I think I'm going to go to a summer improv camp," I said, not missing a beat, "for fun." To be honest, I didn't know I had such a plan. "For fun?" she said, arching an eyebrow. "Imagine that." Maybe it looks something like this? Symphony musicians occasionally get a little jaded, I must say. It really might be time to stretch out a bit. So with some trepidation, I've signed up to go to Christian Howes' Creative Strings Workshop, in early July, in Columbus, Ohio. And after signing up "for fun," I've realized I've actually signed up for a lot of work! It will certainly involve some brain-stretching, practicing, and getting way out of my comfort zone. How exciting! And of course, you'll be getting some blogs about it in July. Wish me luck! You might also likeChristian Howes Workshop on Improvisation: New Worlds of PossibilityChristian Howes Creates Structure for Improvisation - ASTA15Setting up my Yamaha Electric Violin, on a budget[...]

The Week in Reviews, Op. 181: Julia Fischer, Kyung Wha Chung, Tasmin Little

Mon, 15 May 2017 22:06:47 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. Julia Fischer performed Henze's Il Vitalino Raddoppiato with the Cleveland Orchestra.The Plain Dealer: "For 30 solid minutes, Fischer held the house in the palm of her hand, enraptured by a performance that slowly transformed from sumptuous and lyrical to passionate and ultimately ferocious. If anyone Thursday doubted Fischer's dominant status, never will they make that mistake again." Julia Fischer. Photo by Uwe Arens, Decca. Kyung Wha Chung performed Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas in recital at the Barbican, London.The Guardian: "The fugue of Sonata No 2 broke down entirely: 'I’m sorry,' she said, flashing a wry smile, before restarting. Yet minutes later the mighty closing chaconne of Partita No 2 was breathtaking. Its introspection was only intensified by the dignity with which Chung had gathered herself, totally committed, in this flawed but unforgettable performance."Financial Times: "In this programme she took on Bach’s entire output of unaccompanied violin sonatas and partitas, presumably just to prove that she still can. And she can, in the recording studio. That much we know from her recent CD release for Warner Classics. The problem is that she can’t do it live, at least not with the kind of polish and fluidity that originally sealed her reputation."The Times: "She gave us some oases of gentleness and mystery, and even a dash of insouciant charm in the lighter dance movements, but the overwhelming impression was of a warrior going into battle, matching the ferocious demands that Bach makes — with the violin sometimes required to suggest three or even four contrapuntal lines — with an equally headstrong and uncompromising delivery."Classical Source: "If on critical reflection one has to acknowledge an uneasy and uneven balance between technique, memory and experience, there was no doubting the depth of experience on display here: Chung’s interpretations are the result of a lifetime’s reflection.">The Spectator: "This is Bach at its most bruising — an emotional assault that takes no prisoners." Tasmin Little performed the Tchaikovsky with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.Daily Mail: "A charismatic figure even before she places her 1757 Guadagnini under her chin, she produced an effortless flow of pyrotechnics in the tricky first-movement cadenza, ending that movement with a dazzling display of virtuosity." Simone Porter performed the Tchaikovsky with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.Edmonton Journal: "She is quite simply marvellous. She reminded me most of all of the young Yehudi Menuhin — the same kind of remarkable golden tones and vibrant smoothness, the huge sound, the sense that any technical virtuoso challenges are a figment of the imagination, the seemingly fearless ease of the whole thing." Renaud Capuçon performed the Korngold with the Philadelphia Orchestra.The Philadelphia Inquirer: "...those gorgeously histrionic Korngold melodies that showed off Heifetz's luster were played by Capuçon (one of the A-plus violinists of his generation) with a more Brahmsian sensibility, chiseling down to the music's message with more rugged phrase shaping rather than the pure sound that Heifetz brought to the piece." Pekka Kuusisto performed works by Grieg and Sibelius with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.The Pioneer Press: "He seems an omnivorous student of folk forms and this weekend’s SPCO concerts might be the best example yet of his propensity for building bridges between styles, like 19th-century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and the fiddlers and banjo pickers across the Atlantic from him." Juliana Athayde performed Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.Rochester City Newspaper: "Soloist Juliana Athayde played as if po[...]

Merry Pranks: Becoming a violist

Fri, 12 May 2017 21:45:14 GMT

By Karen Allendoerfer: Although I've been playing the viola for quite a while, and have previously blogged about it, there are stages to becoming a violist. I picked up the instrument as an adult after a long break from music, thinking that I might have an smoother re-entry into the stringed-instrument-playing world as a violist than a violinist. Well, for my first ~9 years, that wasn't quite true. And maybe more to the point, my subconscious was telling me something: I wasn't ready to give up being a violinist yet. I learned some solo pieces on the viola, and even a concerto movement. But when I first tried to play the viola in an orchestra, I lasted for one rehearsal before I went scurrying back to the violin section. And chamber music? Nope. I played violin there too. Another couple of years and a move to California later, though, things have changed. And I think that finally, I have come into my own as a violist. I have many people to thank for this: private teachers past and present, conductors who believed in me, and friends who were willing to let me play the viola in their chamber groups. But in order not to embarrass anyone, I will distill it down to two musicians who are both well known and both dead: Richard Strauss and Franz Schubert. Last December I joined the Nova Vista Symphony for their Holiday Magic concert, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had been missing holiday music as an essential part of the season. And after the concert as we were standing around at the reception eating peppermint bark, the Music Director asked me, "are you going to play the next concert? We're going to play Till." "What's Till?" I asked. "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks. It's a tone poem by Richard Strauss." "Oh cool!" I said, naievely. I mean, I like Strauss. Beautiful Blue Danube Strauss and Also Sprach Zarathustra Strauss. But who or what is Till Eulenspeigel? Till Eulenspiegel is a prankster character from German folklore. He has been around in different guises since the Middle Ages, always upsetting the apple cart in one picaresque way or another. According to our conductor, this piece is the first to set laughter to music. There is a 7-note phrase that begins sounding like "ha-ha-ha" and this phrase is repeated throughout the work in different contexts by every section of the orchestra. Read these excellent program notes by Paul Thomason to learn more. But like the eponymous stories, this piece is not just a fluffy musical joke. It has a dark side, and in the case of me and my viola, the dark side was the fiendish technical difficulty of the piece. Wandering in and out of treble clef, with unconventional harmonies, accidentals, and rhythm and tempo changes galore, this was the most difficult thing I had ever played on the viola. The horn solo at the beginning is much more famous, and famously challenging, than anything in the viola part. Every section had its share, and we were struggling. It wasn't clear to me, especially at the beginning of the rehearsal cycle, just who was being pranked here. The orchestra? Or maybe the audience who was going to have to listen to us play this? This wouldn't actually be so hard if I had an E-string . . . Community orchestras have a long rehearsal cycle for a reason, and I've been in enough of them now to know that usually, towards the end of that cycle, a minor miracle can occur, and things start to fall into place. That happened. I figured out how to finger the most difficult section. The conductor chose a good tempo and I stopped worrying about it going too fast. I watched this recording with the synchronized score multiple times to figure out where my part fit in with the rest of the notes I was hearing. src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"> At the same time I was also playing Schuber[...] weekend vote: How often do you change your strings?

Fri, 12 May 2017 16:05:19 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Hmmm, why is my fiddle sounding so quiet, and why can't I quite find the pitch when I'm tuning these days? Must be time for new strings. Of course, strings tend to be expensive, and they're a pain in the *** to change. But even if you manage to avoid changing them for a long time, they will eventually begin to unravel and ultimately, break.
I run into all kinds of scenarios with students, and especially with fractional-size violins. Those strings are even harder to find and change. Recently, I realized that a student's very small fiddle had the same strings as it had had back when I was teaching the students older sibling -- at least six years ago! Also, I suspect some places that rent violins just leave them on there until they break - not all, but certainly some. Even with my own fiddle, my intention is to change the strings every six months, but time flies, and it often ends up being longer than that. How about you? How often do you change your strings, and what is your sign that it's time? The calendar, or the state of the strings? src="" frameborder="0" height="270" scrolling="auto" width="450"> You might also like:

For the Record, Op. 23: Simone Lamsma; Eybler Quartet; Vadim Gluzman; Fabio Biondi

Thu, 11 May 2017 19:51:27 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! Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 77; Gubaidulina: In tempus praesens Simone Lamsma, violin The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, James Gaffigan conducting "Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto is particularly original: The opening movement (Nocturne) is a beautiful song, blossoming from a single melodic fragment. The Scherzo is biting and dazzling virtuosic, like a carousel gone wild. The ensuing Passacaglia is, quite simply, the pinnacle of this concerto; a masterpiece - mature, elegiac and highly lyrical. The concerto closes with a Burlesque, in which the theme from the Passacaglia has one final, piercing reappearance." Gubaidulina wrote "In tempus praesens" for German soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who premiered it at the Lucerne Festival in 2007. Below: a 2010 performance of Lamsma performing the 4th Movement of Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1 with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jaap van Zweden.: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Johann Baptist Vanhal, String Quartets, Op. 6 Eybler Quartet Aisslinn Nosky, violin Julia Wedman, violin Patrick G. Jordan, viola Margaret Gay, cello Czech-born composer Johann Baptist Vanhal was actually the most widely published Viennese composer from 1771 to 1781, far outstripping the elder Haydn or the young Mozart, according to the Eybler Quartet. Second only to Haydn in the number of string quartets and symphonies to his credit, Vanhal was a significant innovators in the development of the Classical style. Here, the Eybler Quartet, with members from ensembles such as Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and the Handel & Haydn Society, perform all six of Vanhal's string quartets on period instruments. "This is perhaps the cheeriest, happiest classical recording we will ever make - or that you might ever hear," said quartet violist Jordan. "There are no quartets in minor keys. In fact, there are no movements that do anything more than briefly visit that darker side. And yet there is huge variety in expression." Here's a little sample of that cheery music, the first movement from Vanhal's String Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 6: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Brahms Concerto and Sonata no. 1 Vadim Gluzman Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, James Gaffigan conducting Angele Yoffe, piano Premiered by Joseph Joachim on New Year’s Day 1879, the Brahms Violin Concerto is a perennial favorite for us fiddle players. Gluzman also performs the Violin Sonata No. 1 with his wife and recital partner, pianist Angela Yoffe. Here they are, playing the first movement from that sonata: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Jean-Marie Leclair: Violin Concertos, Op. 7, Nos. 1, 3-5 Fabio Biondi, violin Europa Galante "Jean-Marie Leclair epitomized the idea of an eighteenth-century virtuoso-composer, one whose compositional output largely reflects his activity as a performer. The virtuoso violinist became a highly sought-after teacher, and a full generation of musicians were recipients of his teaching. Leclair published twelve concertos for violin in two sets, Op. 7 and Op. 10. The Op. 7 collection, of which four concertos have been included in this recording, is without doubt partially made up of works which Leclair performed at the Concert Spirituel between 1728 and 1736. The scholar Louis Castelain of the Centre de Musique Baroque [...]