The 2012 Violinist.com Holiday Gift Guide
December 4, 2012 at 6:15 PMGift-giving is one of the joys of the holiday season, and we hope you will consider giving (or asking for) music-related gifts this holiday season. Each year, we put together a list of some of the year's best new offerings from violinists, with recordings, books and more. We hope this will give you a starting point for thinking about music-related gifts you'd like to give or receive. For example, if you receive a iPod for Christmas or Hanukah, you might want to load it up with some great violin music. Or, if you receive a Kindle or iPad, you might want to think about purchasing a music-related book. You can also do things like purchase tickets to live and local musical events, to support your local live music scene. If you are curious about exploring more high-quality music gifts and recordings recommended by Violinist.com, please see our guides from previous years: 2008 Guide; 2009 Guide; 2010 Guide; and our 2011 Guide. Please feel free add your suggestions in the comments section, as well (and yes, in this case, you are allowed to toot your own horn and recommend your own CD or book or product).
We know that CDs and books can make are nice gifts to wrap and give to someone, but we have also included links for iTunes and eBooks, in case this is your preferred way to get your music.
RECORDINGS (and more)
Decca / Simon Fowler
Italia, with Nicola Benedetti
In addition to Tartini's well-known "Devil's Trill" and Vivaldi's "Summer," Nicola Benedetti uncovers some lesser-known Baroque works, such as Vivaldi's "Grosse Mogul," as well as works by Tartini and Veracini.
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French Impressions, with Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk
A gorgeous recording made by two artists who play like one -- they've performed more than 80 recitals together all over the globe, after all! Jeremy Denk makes that wicked piano part in the Franck Sonata seem like a dream and Joshua Bell is as expressive as ever. The recording also includes sonatas by Saint-Saens and Ravel.
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Bach Sonatas with Lara St. John and harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet
Bach's violin and flute sonatas were written harpsichord accompaniment in mind -- why not play them with harp? It's one of Lara St. John's wonderful musical experiments, and the result is as heavenly as one would think.
Air: The Bach Album, with Anne Akiko Meyers
Anne Akiko Meyers plays the Bach Double with herself -- on each of her two Stradivari violins, the 1730 "Royal Spanish" Strad and the more-recently-acquired 1697 "ex-Molitar/Napoleon" Strad, which she calls "Molly." The recording also includes Bach Concertos Nos. 1 and 2; "Air" from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D; the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria"; and "Largo" from Concerto for Harpsichord in F m.
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Violinist.com tote bags and T-shirts
Quick, these are flying off the shelves! The V.com tote bag is the ultimate musician tote bag: Made of sturdy canvas, it measures 17 inches wide by 15 inches deep (plenty big for all music) and features adjustable carrying straps, a zip-up top, two mesh side pockets for water bottles, an exterior pocket, and two exterior pencil holders. The T-shirts, which go with everything, are made of high-quality cotton, and women have the option of getting the fitted T's.
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Bruch and Mendelssohn Concertos and Beethoven Romances, with Philippe Quint
Recorded at the Sala Nezahualcoyotl in Mexico City with Orquestra de Mineria, Philippe Quint gives us a great recording and sparkling performance of these well-known pieces -- good inspiration for a young student who is heading toward playing these pieces, and pleasing for all ears.
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Tickets to a live concert by your local symphony orchestra!
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Silfra, with Hilary Hahn and Prepared Piano Specialist Hauschka
Highly experimental stuff! Hilary Hahn teams up with prepared-piano master and innovator Volker Bertelmann ("Hauschka"), to create an album of improvised, minimalist-sounding music inspired by the unique landscape of the Silfra rift in Iceland.
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Eugene Ysaye's Six Sonatas for Solo violin, with Tai Murray
Tai Murray calls Eugene Ysaye's Six Sonatas for Solo violin "an opus of love and expression" -- written from the composer's love for Bach, for his friends, and for the violin itself. Certainly her own new recording of these works reflects the same deep dedication.
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'On Our Way,' with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
It's nearly as interesting to listen to Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg speak as it is to hear her play or watch her conduct. This DVD explores her four-year partnership with the San Francisco-based New Century Chamber Orchestra where she has served as director since 2008.
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'Sounds of Defiance,' with Yevgeny Kutik
Kickstarter dreams really do come true! Violinist Yevgeny Kutik recognizes his Soviet beginnings and pays tribute to his Russian and Jewish heritage with this recording that includes the Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 134, by Dmitri Shostakovich; Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 by Alfred Schnittke; "Hebrew Lullaby" and "Hebrew Melody" by Joseph Achron; and "Spiegel im Spiegel" by Arvo Part. All are in collaboration with pianist Timothy Bozarth. Yevgeny plays a 1916 Stefano Scarampella violin.
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'Legacy' with David Garrett
First he "crossed over" to become a rock violinist playing to sold-out crowds in huge venues. Then for this recording, he crossed back. In reality, he loves both. Violinist David Garrett teams up with with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the Beethoven Violin Concerto with cadenzas by Fritz Kreisler, as well as other works by Kreisler. The works by Kreisler are fun to hear with orchestral accompaniment, much which Garrett himself helped arrange.
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A subscription to The Strad magazine
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The Nielsen and Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos, with Vilde Frang
The violin concerto by Danish composer Carl Nielsen might not be the most commonly recorded or performed, but it has a passionate and highly competent champion in the 26-year-old Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang.
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Eternal Echoes: Songs & Dances for the Soul, with Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman calls this his album of "Jewish comfort music": Jewish liturgical and traditional music, recorded with Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot.
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Brahms and Berg Violin Concertos, with Renaud Capucon
French violinist Renaud Capucon performs the Brahms (with Kreisler cadenzas) and Berg with conductor (and good friend) Daniel Harding and the Vienna Philharmonic. Capucon plays the 1737 "Panette" Guarneri del Gesu that Isaac Stern played.
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Out of Nowhere: Violin Concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen, played by violinist Leila Josefowicz
It's the first recording of conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen's violin concerto, written for violinist Leila Josefowicz and premiered by the two of them in 2009. The music reflects Salonen's feelings about leaving the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
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Beethoven: The Late String Quartets, with the Cypress String Quartet
If you saw "A Late Quartet" and liked the music, the Cypress String Quartet released a new recording this year of all of Beethoven's late quartets, with three discs (if you get the CD version) including Opuses 127, 132, 130, 133, 131 (the one in the movie) and 135. The San Francisco-based ensemble includes violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violist Ethan Filner and cellist Jennifer Kloetzel.
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String Theory, with jazz violinist Sam Weiser
The young jazz violinist Sam Weiser -- still not yet 20 -- has released another recording that fuses classical, jazz and bluegrass styles into something all his own. Watch this guy! Listen, too, he does some really creative things with our instrument.
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A Second of Silence, with The Knights
This recording is a study in the kind of sound we associate with silence, with pieces that "are not merely tranquil -- quiet meditations are frequently interrupted by by violent gesture -- but dissolution into silence remains their ultimate object," as the New York-based ensemble The Knights describes it. They perform works by Erik Satie, Philip Glass, Franz Schubert and Morton Feldman.
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Serenade for Strings, with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO)
Intense! And well-played. Nick Kendall and Tai Murray are just a few of the members of this group of musicians, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, who met at various summer festivals and continue to meet up several times a year to make great music. This, in spite of the fact that the players live all over the place. Here they've recorded the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings and Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony in C, and attention Suzuki-ites who want to shake up your concept of "La Folia" a bit, the finale of this recording is a great, energy-filled arrangement of "La Follia," based on the Geminiani version of the piece.
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Handel: Messiah (Dublin Version, 1742), with the Dunedin Consort and Singers
I'm extremely impressed with the spot-on pitch and purity of the singing in this version of the "Messiah," which was actually issued in 2006 by the Scotland-based Dunedin Consort. Apparently Handel's Messiah wasn't a big hit when premiered; it was actually much more popular when he took it on the road, to Dublin, where Handel did some arranging to make the oratorio fit the voices available at the time. This version tends toward the Baroque in style.
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Exercises for the Violin in Various Combinations of Double-Stops, by Roland Vamos
Want to get your left hand in shape and keep it that way? Violinist/violist and pedagogue Roland Vamos, who taught Rachel Barton Pine and many other wonderful musicians, knows how to help. His new book lets us in on his famous-but-secret double-stop exercises, which for years have been passed from student to student by means of tattered xeroxes. It comes with a DVD in which Mr. Vamos demonstrates the warmups and exercises.
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Before the Chinrest, by Stanley Ritchie
Even if you (like I) have no intention of ditching your chinrest or shoulder rest any time soon, this book's combination of history, practicality and sheer love for Baroque music is both enlightening and inspiring. Stanley Ritchie is a Baroque violinist and longtime violin professor at Indiana University.
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Scales, by Simon Fischer
British pedagogue Simon Fischer, author of "Basics" and regular columnist in The Strad magazine, set out to write the ultimate scale book, and he's done a mighty fine job. "Scales" includes all the basic one-, two-, three- and four-octave scales and arpeggios, and it also lays out a detailed scheme for understanding intonation as well as exercises for building solid shifts and finger motion in scales.
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The Violin: A Social History, by David Schoenbaum
Scheduled for release on Dec. 10, this 700-page hardback book is an impressive feat of research, tracing the five hundred-year history of the violin. The book is divided into four sections, "Making It," about the evolution of lutherie; "Selling It," with many specific stories about violin dealers and prices; "Playing It," about the instrument's proliferation and most famous players; and "Imagining It," about its place in culture. A good read and a great resource, with an exhaustive bibliography.
From Charlie GibbsFor those who love baroque music (or would like to), Tafelmusik's Galileo Project is hard to beat. I saw the concert a couple of weeks ago, and purchased the DVD, which is the next best thing to being there.
Posted on December 4, 2012 at 9:02 PM
From Laurie NilesFeel free to include your suggestions, everyone, and I'll swoop in and make sure your link(s) work. :) Laurie
Posted on December 4, 2012 at 10:35 PM
From Paul DeckDon't forget that LIVE music makes a great gift too.
Posted on December 5, 2012 at 3:55 PM
From james holmesThanks Charlie- put the DVD on my list!
Posted on December 5, 2012 at 4:37 PM
From Benedict GomezIs attractiveness now a near precondition to becoming a famous violinist?
Posted on December 5, 2012 at 10:20 PM
From Paul DeckAttractiveness helps in any professional career, but especially in the performing arts. Sometimes I wonder if there is actually a logical connection. Is a boy or girl who knows s/he has charisma more likely to enjoy rather than fear performing in public? More likely to have higher overall confidence?
Posted on December 6, 2012 at 2:43 PM
From Francesca RizzardiLaurie was too modest to mention the v.com music tote. Or is that a given? I was going to write a blog about mine--it's like Hermione's purse in the 7th Harry Potter book. I can even fit in my heavy duty folding music stand, which doesn't even fit in my daypack!
Posted on December 8, 2012 at 4:34 PM
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From holiday tunes from Joshua Bell to a biography of Jascha Heifetz's early years in Russia, you'll find plenty of great gift ideas for violinists and violin fans on this year's list.
Laurie Niles is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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