Welcome! Log in, or Join

The Week in Reviews, Op. 102: Vilde Frang, Renaud Capucon, James Ehnes

By Laurie Niles
October 13, 2015 13:03

In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Vilde Frang performed the Britten with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Seattle Times: "Looking as if she had just stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, the soloist gave an utterly committed, finely nuanced performance that made it clear she owns this difficult, often fierce concerto."

Vilde Frang
Vilde Frang. © EMI CLASSICS

Renaud Capucon performed the Brahms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Chicago Tribune: "This was very much a young virtuoso's Brahms, yet a performance sensitively attuned to the inner serenity that is so endemic to the composer's musical psyche. A prime example of this was the slow movement, played as a reverie of quite ravishing tonal beauty, whose arching phrases Capucon delivered with the utmost poetic concentration."
  • Chicago Classical Review: "Capuçon brought notable freshness to the concerto with a finely judged blend of sweetness and sinew. There was ample youthful fire in the opening movement with the drama reflected in the synergy between the soloist and Bychkov’s hard-charging accompaniment."

James Ehnes performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

  • Ottawa Citizen: "Canadian violinist James Ehnes laid down a memorable performance: subtle, exquisitely controlled, with a pure, focused, limpid tone that allowed even the most whisper-quiet passages to cut through the dense orchestration. The final movement slipped by like a dream. Ehnes made Prokofiev’s endless cascades of chromatic scales swirl delicately, like a tiny snowglobe blizzard."

Nicola Benedetti performed works by Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and Turnage, with her ensemble in Dublin.

  • Irish Times: "...the performing was fresh, focused and energetic, despite the last-minute cancellation of a flight on which two members of Benedetti’s hand-picked, conductorless ensemble were booked to travel from Glasgow."

Gil Shaham performed Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer: "The music strained a bit at the seams, though soloist Gil Shaham firmly sustained the piece's lyricism, helping to carry the ear through the particularly detailed thickets of the orchestration."

Callum Smart performed the Beethoven with the Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Nottingham Post: "The Violin Concerto was in the safe hands of former BBC Young Musician Callum Smart. Not only did he display technical wizardry (the unusual cadenzas demanded plenty of that) but he allowed the tenderness of the slow movement to speak for itself without any hint of self-indulgence."

Henning Kraggerud performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Auckland Philharmonia.

  • Stuff: "It was not an over-dramatic performance highlighting the technical difficulties of the piece but more the melodic lines and rich emotions, particularly in the second movement Adagio which is the heart of the piece."

Please support music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

Submit Comment | Archive Link


Associate Teachers of Violin, Viola and Cello required
Associate Teachers of Violin, Viola and Cello required Pro-Am Strings is looking for exceptional string teachers to join our Associate Teacher network. Jobs will include the delivery of webinars and Face to Face or online teaching. You may feature as our Teacher of the Month on the Pro-Am Strings website. For further information

Front-page announcements on Violinist.com are paid placements. You can support the site by ordering an announcement here.

Music & Words

By Claire Allen
October 13, 2015 06:59

I have a rule in my studio: You must sing your new piece before I will teach it to you on the violin. With words you wrote (one syllable per note). From memory.

It's no wonder my students think I'm a little nuts.

kids singing

This is a learning strategy I acquired from my teacher, Burton Kaplan. Writing words to your piece opens up a new way to engage with it. Having to write words and SING them forces students to listen to the song differently - and probably to listen to it more times than they would. You listen to the inflections of the notes, and engage with the rhythm in a different way.

The beginning stages of learning the violin can be very challenging. There are a lot of details to remember, and I insist on a very high level of technique from my students at every level. The violin must be held right, the left hand framed beautifully, the fingers landing just so on the strings. The bow hold must have every finger in the right place, yet the arm and hand must be relaxed. The direction of the bows and the amount of bow used must follow precise directions.

All of this, while incredibly important, can get dry and mechanical. Having my students write their own creative words and sing them ensures that before we dive into the technical details of the piece, they have internalized their own musical image of what the piece is. And, should we get too lost in the bowings and fingerings, I can always have them sing a phrase and then try to imitate their voices.

I'm sharing some of my students' original words and the Suzuki songs they go to. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

May Song

In a little hive there's a bee, make sure you don't sting me.
If you do you'll be very sad, if you do you'll be very sad.
In a little hive there's a bee, make sure you don't sting me.

-Bailey, age 7

Minuet 1 - The Hermione Song

Hermione and her friends, Harry Potter and
Ron Weasley, Neville and Luna Lovegood all go to Hogwarts.

Hermione and her friends, Harry Potter and
Ron Weasley, Neville and Luna Lovegood all go to Hogwarts.

They ride Hogwarts Express all the way up to the castle.
Laughing with friends and chocolate frogs will make time go fast.

McGonagall and Dumbledore teach them their spells.
Snape does the potions. We don't quite trust him. He's kind of creepy.

Quidditch is their big sport. Harry plays Seeker, yes he does.
Griffindor will win. Draco is angry. He lost the snitch.

He who shall not be named is there, lurking around.
Hermione and her friends won't let him get Harry Potter!

Minuet 3- My Busted Arm

I do not like my busted arm. It's very hard to do some stuff.
Like eating with a fork, playing violin and holding a pencil.

I fell off of the zip line and landed on my right arm. Boo hoo!
We went to the doctor, then to the x-ray, then to the ER.

The ER was so fun. They gave me an ipad when I first got to my bed.
I played Hair Salon the whole time and loved it so much.

Then Cinderella came to visit and to take some pictures, too.
Then the nurse gave me a splint and we went back home at 9.

- Lindsey, age 7

Minuet 2 - MOWnuet

Tulips come up in the spring (in spring)
They’re a gardener’s favorite thing (in spring)
Poppies and petunias, don’t forget tiny crocuses,
Parsley, rosemary and thyme (and thyme)
Roses bloom and start to climb (and climb)
Shovels or maybe trowels or maybe
Flowerpots for your plants.

Flower gardens get the glory, and
Vegetables are always useful, so
Why is it that so much space goes to
Raising up boring grass? Don’t you think
Digging around with shovels and trowels
Might be more fun than mowing the lawn?
Raking the leaves is another nice weekend gone.

Plant some fruit trees in a row (a row)
Plant them deep and watch them grow (and grow)
Make me a flower border with cosmos,
Daisies and Queen Anne’s Lace.

-Grace, age 9

Originally posted on my website.

You might also like:

Comments (1) | Submit Comment | Archive Link

Vuillaume played by Josef Špacek seized by Russian customs officials

By Laurie Niles
October 12, 2015 16:11

Russian customs officials seized a 1855 Vuillaume violin played by Czech violinist Josef Špacek as he was trying to leave Russia last week after performing in the International Music Festival Eurasia.

Josef Spacek
Spacek refused to leave the country without his instrument, according to Sputnik News, and is still trying to resolve the issue. The seizure took place at Yekaterinburg’s Koltsovo Airport on Oct. 8, before a flight from Yekaterinburg to Prague, according to the New York Times.

Spacek studied and the Curtis Institute and The Juilliard School and is a concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Officials were awaiting documentation proving that the violin belongs to Spacek. Let's hope it arrives safe, back in his hands!

You might also like:

Comments (5) | Submit Comment | Archive Link

Student, Have Patience With Yourself

By Laurie Niles
October 12, 2015 11:54

"I'm being patient with you. I need you to be patient with you."

Sometimes, when I'm trying to phrase things in the most direct way possible for my youngest students, I stumble upon an idea that I didn't know I had. This comment was directed at a precocious seven-year-old, who was not understanding a concept right away and was sure that he simply wouldn't be able to. I had complete faith in his ability to understand it, and my ability to explain it, but he simply lost his own patience -- and rejected mine.

I can be patient with you, student. I need YOU to be patient with you!

metronomeI can remember being on the other side of this, being a self-conscious graduate student at Indiana University. Though I had an undergraduate degree in music, I was not studying music in graduate school. But I was taking violin lessons and while doing so, I was getting a complete overhaul of my bow arm. I knew I needed it. I was keyed up to do whatever my teacher said, and I thought I was being patient. But after about the fourth week of martelé strokes on open strings (no repertoire, no etudes) I was sure that my teacher, Henryk Kowalski, was rolling his eyes, ready to check out of having to listen to this student with her boring open A strings. After all, I was also a lowly non-major.

One lesson, after about a half-hour of deep concentration on open-string bow strokes, I couldn't help asking. "Are you tired of listening to my open 'A' strings?"

He looked at me like I'd hurled the biggest insult imaginable at him. "Absolutely NOT!" he boomed. "I am VERY INTERESTED in your open 'A' strings! CONTINUE!"

I was completely flabbergasted, and I wasn't even sure why. I did know one thing: I had a real teacher. He was ready to stay with me until I'd figured this thing out. It wasn't so simple, to completely change my right-hand technique and then produce an absolutely pristine sound with every stroke. But he was determined that I was going to get there, and we weren't about to stop short of the goal. Maybe I was beginning to think that there was a shortcut, but he knew there was not. He was going to show me the way, the long and necessary way.

He actually did lose patience with me, but it was only when I lost patience with myself. After that, we both stayed the course, and in a few months, my bow hand and arm was truly transformed, something I'd been seeking for years.

So be patient with yourself and trust a teacher who is patient with you. It may seem like your teacher wishes you'd move along faster, but oftentimes the only person trying to hurry the process is you!

Comments (5) | Submit Comment | Archive Link

More top blog entries from Violinist.com members