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Thread: Greatest Violist of All Time?

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Default Greatest Violist of All Time?

    The advantage we have over violinists and pianists is that all the first great violists have been recorded; Tertis and Hindemith especially.

    After that early era, viola really came into its own, especially since William Primrose, possibly the most famous violist of all time, who famously rejected violinists who played viola "on the side."

    So I ask all of you: who do you think is the greatest violist of all time? I personally don't vote Primrose. I prefer Tertis, and among living violists I definitely vote Steven Dann.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member Taneyev's Avatar
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    Primrose was (IMO justly) criticside for being a frustrate violinist who played the viola as a violin.
    My favorite actual violist is Pierre Lènert.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    John Cale. Possibly because he's the only viola player I can think of that isn't primarily a violinist.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argus View Post
    John Cale. Possibly because he's the only viola player I can think of that isn't primarily a violinist.
    Actually there are a lot more than you would think. Check out Lawrence Power, who has a couple of superb CD's of British viola concerti (Walton, Forsyth, Rubbra, and Bowen), Steven Dann, who has a great Brahms CD, and Yuri Bashmet, who apparently has some great Shostakovich to his name.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    There are many fine viola players today so it's rather difficult to try and pick one that's the greatest.

    Since living in France I've heard, among others, Garth Knox (I have a great solo CD by him including the Ligeti Sonata), Christophe Desjardins (of EIC). Tabea Zimmermann and Antoine Tamestit I heard in a concert recently doing a new double viola concerto. Gérard Caussé and Yuri Bashmet I've heard playing more traditional repertoire. etc. etc;

    Franck Chevalier playing my own Viola Concerto; to hear him on CD you'll need to hunt for a CD of Quatuor Diotima.

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    The greatest violinist of all time was Niccolo Paganini.
    The greatest violinist of the 20th century was Jascha Heifetz
    The greatest living violinist today is Itzhak Perlman.
    Other notable violinists living today : Kyung Wha Chung (retired), Sarah Chang , Hilary Hahn and Anne Sophie Mutter.


    [Admin edit: Promo links removed]
    Last edited by Krummhorn; Dec-24-2009 at 00:23.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cutecub00 View Post
    The greatest violinist of all time was Niccolo Paganini.
    The greatest violinist of the 20th century was Jascha Heifetz
    The greatest living violinist today is Itzhak Perlman.
    Other notable violinists living today : Kyung Wha Chung (retired), Sarah Chang , Hilary Hahn and Anne Sophie Mutter. (Admin Edit: Promo link removed)
    That's nice to know, but the question was greatest violist, as in a person who plays the viola.
    Last edited by Krummhorn; Dec-24-2009 at 05:29.

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    I don't know what the post above this is all about. I thought this thread was about violists, not violinists. (edit I see Argus beat me to it!)

    My choices for very good violists would include:

    Lawrence Power (Walton Viola Concerto, Hyperion label);

    David Aaron Carpenter (Schnittke, Viola Concerto, Ondine label);

    Rivka Golani (Malcolm Arnold, Concerto for Viola & Orchestra, Decca label) and Hindermith (Trauermusik for viola & string orchstra);

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    Quote Originally Posted by cutecub00 View Post
    The greatest violinist of all time was Niccolo Paganini.
    The greatest violinist of the 20th century was Jascha Heifetz
    The greatest living violinist today is Itzhak Perlman.
    Other notable violinists living today : Kyung Wha Chung (retired), Sarah Chang , Hilary Hahn and Anne Sophie Mutter.


    [Admin edit: Promo links removed]
    I know this thread is about VIOLISTS, but how can we possibly know Paganini was the greatest violinist of all time? If people at the time had heard Oistrakh or Heiftez or Perlman play, do you think it would be said that THEY had sold their souls to the devil, too?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    I know this thread is about VIOLISTS, but how can we possibly know Paganini was the greatest violinist of all time? If people at the time had heard Oistrakh or Heiftez or Perlman play, do you think it would be said that THEY had sold their souls to the devil, too?
    Good idea. Let's burn the violin virtuosi at the stake.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member handlebar's Avatar
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    I would say Primrose gets the nod for Golden Age violist and both Zuckerman(who plays both like many violinists can) and Bashmet for modern.
    My violin teacher was a stunning violist as well and even though many can name the best violinists, they forget how talented a violinist can be and adept at both instruments.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by handlebar View Post
    (who plays both like many violinists can)
    I have a problem with this statement, largely because I am a violist first and not at all a violinist. There isn't much point in trying to play both, and it's a ridiculous idea to do so in my humble opinion. The violinists just opt for a different sound than do the "real" violists.

    And many violinists just can't make the extra finger stretching. I have a friend who plays violin with these very large hands, and he just can't play my 17" viola. All the fourth finger stretches and that sort of stuff just don't work out.

    I'll let everyone else have their own ideas, but mine is that a person who is first a violinist just isn't necessarily suited to viola.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member andruini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    I have a problem with this statement, largely because I am a violist first and not at all a violinist. There isn't much point in trying to play both, and it's a ridiculous idea to do so in my humble opinion. The violinists just opt for a different sound than do the "real" violists.

    And many violinists just can't make the extra finger stretching. I have a friend who plays violin with these very large hands, and he just can't play my 17" viola. All the fourth finger stretches and that sort of stuff just don't work out.

    I'll let everyone else have their own ideas, but mine is that a person who is first a violinist just isn't necessarily suited to viola.
    I whole-heartedly agree with this, I know many violinists who try to play viola on the side and it just sounds weak and feeble. But I do think Zuckerman is arguably a very good violist, and I think he does deserve a mention in the list. I think his sound and technique on the viola are very appropriate to the instrument. I could be wrong, of course, but that's just my two cents..
    Life is a long lesson in humility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andruini View Post
    I whole-heartedly agree with this, I know many violinists who try to play viola on the side and it just sounds weak and feeble. But I do think Zuckerman is arguably a very good violist, and I think he does deserve a mention in the list. I think his sound and technique on the viola are very appropriate to the instrument. I could be wrong, of course, but that's just my two cents..
    I agree, but I think he's one of the only ones.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member handlebar's Avatar
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    The statement is true that many violists do not play the violin and vice-versa for the opposite.
    My post was not meant to imply that ALL are versatile in such musicality but that SOME are.
    Just like a hockey player might also be good at golf (which is very common) doesn't imply that ALL hockey players play golf.
    I just wanted to pass on the point that many musicians are able to play multiple instruments and that the similarities in said instruments make such a proposition easier. I enjoy playing the piano and classical guitar as well as a bit of violin and cello but. No, I'm not an expert or professional at any of the above but I CAN play them I I so desire.

    Jim

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