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Thread: Your best violinist - why?

  1. #121
    Senior Member Victor Redseal's Avatar
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    My favorite violinists are adults. I'm plum sick and tired of child prodigies. Sure, it's great to see a child who can rip on the violin but all these great violinists were doing the same thing at that age. The pressure put on these kids who get recording contracts is enormous and wears many of them out by the time they should really be blossoming. It was like these classical labels were all competing to see who could sign the youngest prodigy. Enough already! Then I was on YT looking at some kid playing a Beethoven sonata or something and these people leaving comments! "Well, she has mastery of the mechanics but the emotional depth is absolutely atrocious!" Yeah, she's 8, you gnat-brain!

    With that said, Haifetz is a fave, Kyung Wha Chung of course, I think Elizabeth Pitcairn is pretty good. Of course, my standards aren't particular rigid. If you can make it through "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" without making a mistook, you're pretty good by my standards.

    As violinists go, the soloists get all the notice. Ensemble players are never noticed. I've played in some ensemble groups and I'll tell you something: It takes a lot of practice to be a good ensemble player. Ensemble players make the soloist sound good. You don't just have your lines to worry about. You have to play as a unit. Every note, every stoke of the bow has to be just so or it sounds like crap. I found doing that kind of thing so tedious that I threw myself back into jazz. Man, just let me play my bass and not worry about all this crap!

    And I also know that soloists often don't understand what the hell they're playing either. I worked with a jazz guitarist who was the best I ever worked with. He was phenomenal! To this day, I've never played with a better guitarist. He could play anything and play it extremely well. His clarity and dexterity was unparalleled. Then one day, I tried to show him so guitar chords to play while the pianist was soloing so as not to overshadow him. To my surprise, I realized he couldn't really play chords. I was ten times better at it than he was! He often couldn't play the change of one chord to the next. I realized that he doesn't really understand the music. He doesn't understand the harmonic underpinnings. Every bar represents a chord or two but he didn't know that and he didn't know which chords nor the progression. He knew how to play from this note to that note on a lead run. he knew that incredibly well but he didn't really understand why he was going from this note to that note. It was just intuitive.

    In an ensemble, I backed this teenaged girl on the violin. She played very well as a soloist but when she tried to play with us as an ensemble player--she frankly stunk! She was terrible. When she soloed, she had a natural ability to play all these notes and go crazy with it but when she had tried ensemble, she did not play well with others.

    A lot of soloists are what I call musical athletes. They have an amazing ability to solo and do these finger-twisting runs but they don't ultimately really understand what they are playing.
    "God," asked Adam, "why did you make Eve so beautiful?"
    And He replied, "So that you could love her."
    "But God," asked Adam, "why did you make her so stupid?"
    And He replied, "So that she could love you."

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  3. #122
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    ^^^^ What a very interesting post!

    You're so right about the art of playing as a not-soloist! I realised that early on when I came back to the fiddle in retirement. My teacher, a professional violinist & violist who plays in all sorts of ensembles and small orchestras, can even make me sound good!
    Last edited by Ingélou; Jul-09-2017 at 11:56.
    My fiddle my joy.

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  5. #123
    Senior Member Victor Redseal's Avatar
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    I think ripienists and ensemble players probably make better teachers because they understand everything about the music in the same way a mechanic understands everything about the car you drive but all you care about is that it looks snazzy and you can out-race anybody who crosses your path. The mechanic may not be able to drive the way you can but he understands the car you drive far more deeply than you ever will. Likewise, an ensemble-ist understands the piece--its harmonies, its rhythms, why melody works the way it does, etc. The soloist MAY understand that BUT I have found that they often don't. Hey, they have 30 pages of notes to memorize! They have to have it all in their head by the time they go out onstage to perform it. They don't have time to analyze the piece down every rabbit hole. But the ensemble lives in those rabbit holes.

    But, on top of that, some soloists just seem to know how to solo. They are individualists. The ensemble have to work as a unit and they have the soloist's back. We catch them if they fall. Do they need us? Maybe not. Some are so good, they can just go out there and play by themselves and mesmerize everybody but most classical pieces are not written that way. Ensembles are usually required. If we don't sound good, the piece doesn't sound good. But if the soloist doesn't sound good, we make him/her sound good. Most soloists, from what I've seen, do understand the value of a good ensemble.
    Last edited by Victor Redseal; Jul-09-2017 at 19:48.
    "God," asked Adam, "why did you make Eve so beautiful?"
    And He replied, "So that you could love her."
    "But God," asked Adam, "why did you make her so stupid?"
    And He replied, "So that she could love you."

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  7. #124
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JACE View Post
    Back in the early-90s, I saw Joshua Bell perform Prokofiev's Violin Sonatas with Olli Mustonen. Wonderful music-making! I've been a fan ever since.

    I suppose my all-round favorite violinist is David Oistrakh. Others that I've particularly enjoyed include Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Kyung Wha Chung, and Maxim Vengerov.
    David Oistrakh is probably my no. 1 too, though I have a soft spot for Nathan Milstein and Leonid Kogan, as I heard them both in person as a young 'un. The uncanny thing about Oistrakh is, he somehow finds exactly the right path, whether it's baroque, classical, romantic or modern, chamber or large scale concerto, Russian or not, lyrical, delicate, classically refined, intensely romantic, energetic and modern, live performance or studio, etc. As nearly all the many works he recorded get rerecorded over and over, you begin to appreciate how often his version remains the overall best one, or very close to it.
    Last edited by fluteman; Jul-10-2017 at 02:49.

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  9. #125
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Good point about soloists. I play very basic rhythm guitar and play along well with bass and drums as a rhythm section. I know of some very good guitarists who frankly cannot do the same. They just either don't get the feel of the music or want to be louder than everyone else. This is particularly telling when they're palm-muting or accenting certain chords.

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  11. #126
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Redseal View Post
    My favorite violinists are adults. I'm plum sick and tired of child prodigies. Sure, it's great to see a child who can rip on the violin but all these great violinists were doing the same thing at that age. The pressure put on these kids who get recording contracts is enormous and wears many of them out by the time they should really be blossoming. It was like these classical labels were all competing to see who could sign the youngest prodigy. Enough already! Then I was on YT looking at some kid playing a Beethoven sonata or something and these people leaving comments! "Well, she has mastery of the mechanics but the emotional depth is absolutely atrocious!" Yeah, she's 8, you gnat-brain!

    With that said, Haifetz is a fave, Kyung Wha Chung of course, I think Elizabeth Pitcairn is pretty good. Of course, my standards aren't particular rigid. If you can make it through "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" without making a mistook, you're pretty good by my standards.

    As violinists go, the soloists get all the notice. Ensemble players are never noticed. I've played in some ensemble groups and I'll tell you something: It takes a lot of practice to be a good ensemble player. Ensemble players make the soloist sound good. You don't just have your lines to worry about. You have to play as a unit. Every note, every stoke of the bow has to be just so or it sounds like crap. I found doing that kind of thing so tedious that I threw myself back into jazz. Man, just let me play my bass and not worry about all this crap!

    And I also know that soloists often don't understand what the hell they're playing either. I worked with a jazz guitarist who was the best I ever worked with. He was phenomenal! To this day, I've never played with a better guitarist. He could play anything and play it extremely well. His clarity and dexterity was unparalleled. Then one day, I tried to show him so guitar chords to play while the pianist was soloing so as not to overshadow him. To my surprise, I realized he couldn't really play chords. I was ten times better at it than he was! He often couldn't play the change of one chord to the next. I realized that he doesn't really understand the music. He doesn't understand the harmonic underpinnings. Every bar represents a chord or two but he didn't know that and he didn't know which chords nor the progression. He knew how to play from this note to that note on a lead run. he knew that incredibly well but he didn't really understand why he was going from this note to that note. It was just intuitive.

    In an ensemble, I backed this teenaged girl on the violin. She played very well as a soloist but when she tried to play with us as an ensemble player--she frankly stunk! She was terrible. When she soloed, she had a natural ability to play all these notes and go crazy with it but when she had tried ensemble, she did not play well with others.

    A lot of soloists are what I call musical athletes. They have an amazing ability to solo and do these finger-twisting runs but they don't ultimately really understand what they are playing.
    You are very right about the difference between soloists and ensemble players. But the best can adapt and do both. As I mentioned above, David Oistrakh was a prime example. I once heard the Tokyo string quartet in one of their first recitals with replacement first violinist Peter Oundjian. A great violinist, it was quickly clear why they chose him, even though he obviously was not from Tokyo (Canadian, in fact). But he played like a soloist and stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb, ruining the ensemble sound. A couple years later I attended another of their recitals, and he blended in perfectly and they achieved the same characteristic Tokyo SQ sound they had with their original first violinist. Alas, his violin career ended early due to physical ailments.

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  13. #127
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    Lately my favorite has been Patricia Kopachinskaja, but my all time hero is Itzhak Perlman. There are many awesome violinists around

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  15. #128
    Senior Member ldiat's Avatar
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    has any one mention this violinistz? she dances. KATICA ILLÉNYI

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  17. #129
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    I like Midori for Bach's Unaccompanied Sonatas & Partitas. Rachel Barton Pine for Beethoven and Brahms concertos.

    Why? They move me like no other violinists I've heard.
    Last edited by hpowders; Jul-16-2017 at 03:15.

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  19. #130
    Senior Member Pugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    Lately my favorite has been Patricia Kopachinskaja, but my all time hero is Itzhak Perlman. There are many awesome violinists around

    Bravo, his tone is so rich that it's almost impossible to compare to other mortals.
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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