February 24, 2010 at 8:56 PM
Unfortunately, much of the audience apparently had a cold when violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk played works by Bach, Schumann, Saint-Saens and Ravel to a nearly-sold-out crowd Monday as part of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival. "Two world-class musicians at the top of their game played before a Seattle audience that did not have the good sense to invest in a few cough drops," observed Sumi Hahn, writing for The Seattle Times. Hopefully the pair will have better luck when they perform many of the same works in a recital this Friday at Disney Hall in Los Angeles.
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Violinist Jaime Jorge will perform in a concert called Hope for Haiti"s Children, to benefit UNICEF"s emergency relief efforts, at 6 p.m. March 7th a the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico. A native of Cuba, Jorge immigrated to the United States when he was 10 and studied with violinist Cyrus Forough.
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You may have heard that Gil Shaham is working through "Concertos of the 1930s," this year, performing seven of the some 14 concertos written during that decade by great composers such as Samuel Barber, Béla Bartók, Alban Berg, Ernest Bloch, Benjamin Britten, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Paul Hindemith, Walter Piston, Sergei Prokofiev, Arnold Schoenberg, Roger Sessions, Igor Stravinsky, Karol Szymanowski and William Walton. This story, written by Barbara Jepson for the Wall Street Journal, goes into some depth about Shaham's project and about the coincidence of all those concertos written so closely together: "It would be foolish to read too much extramusical content into these pieces; all composers are primarily concerned with abstract issues of form, structure, harmony and the like. Yet many of these concertos convey an underlying unease," she says.
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"Lutherie...like many of Europe"s historic crafts, is coming under threat from cheap Chinese products," according to an article in the Brisbane Times, which compares the violin-making situation in Cremona, Italy to that in, say, Xiqiao, China, where more than 40 companies crank out cheap violins. Italian makers also are seeking to stop counterfeits – Asian violins claiming Cremonese origin.
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Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova played Brahms’s Violin Concerto last week at Avery Fisher Hall with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Steve Smith from the New York Times observed that she had recently played the work with a period ensemble, and "here, watching Ms. Mullova play from a score, you sensed that she was thoroughly reconsidering a canonical work without having reached any firm conclusions. There was no faulting her rock-solid technique or coolly incisive tone. She was imposing in Joachim’s first-movement cadenza, gracious in the Adagio and just buoyant enough in the finale."
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What to do with a VSO ("Violin-Shaped Object")? A number of symphonies put such fiddles in the hands of artists: not musical artists, but visual artists, who transform the objects into fodder for fundraising. Personally, I think it"s a good use for VSOs, as long as no one tries using a Strad as a canvas. Here is a gallery of violin objects-made-art-objects for a fundraiser by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
I attended the Joshua Bell/Jeremy Denk concert and it was funny how many people were coughing but at least most of them waited to cough between movements. It showed real restraint. Great concert!
I had a ticket to hear the Bell/Denk concert, but it was scheduled on a big snow day here, and even the concert hall was closed. It's been rescheduled for early March, and I'm really looking forward to it.
Interesting article about lutherie. I think that the offer of cheap violins eventually will make the prices of instruments made by top makers higher, because just a small group of top makers will survive in the market and they will ask high sums for their instruments.
That already happened in other professions, such as taylors. There were many taylors 40 years ago, and we could afford a custom made suit. Now they are scarce, and you will pay a mint for a custom made suit.
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