The finalists are...
Over the years I have dissected what I do with the bow to achieve the best sound - without scratching. I remember the wording in the primer that our school district used – "Play with a full, uninterrupted sound. Use a light touch." That had limited value for me. I wish it would have just said "Don’t scratch." I’ve always gotten better results when I eliminate the parts of my playing that stick out. Give me all the negatives to look out for, and I stand a better chance of improving.
Here, though, are is a list of positives, to help achieve a full-sounding detaché bow stroke:
Detaché and the Three-Item Checklist
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach around 1720, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin went unpublished for more than 50 years and were largely ignored until more than 100 years later, when violinist Joseph Joachim championed them. Nonetheless they have become a kind of technical, intellectual and spiritual centerpiece for the violinist.
So as always, this is an exercise in what your current favorite is - it may be the one you have most recently studied, or the one you have most recently listened to. It may be one that you heard in an especially memorable performance, or just the one that sticks in your mind. So please participate in the vote and choose the sonata or partita that holds the most significance for you at this moment, and then share your thoughts in the comments.
Below the poll are videos of all six Sonatas and Partitas for you to enjoy - or watch before voting, if you wish! I've chosen versions that include the entire work in one video, and I've also chosen violinists from different time periods with different approaches - modern, Baroque and in between. Because I was limited to posting the entire work and also wanted to show live performances when possible, I was forced to leave out a lot of very good performances! So please feel free to list your favorite performances of these works in the comments, as well.
(Click to the story for all six videos - here is just one)
Partita No. 2 in D minor: Itzhak Perlman plays live from Saint John's Smith Square, London, in 1978:Comments (15)
In a quiet neighborhood in Silver Lake, located in Los Angeles, California, lives an alchemist. Unlike his counterparts of an earlier age who attempted to shape and transmute base metals into gold, this craftsman combines wood, pigments, glue, gouges, and planes and transforms them into living sculptures that produce sound. And a violin is alive. It has a characteristic voice that is produced by the materials used in its crafting. All the materials have resonant frequencies that, at their optimum, function cohesively, like a high-end tone-generator/speaker system to produce the clear, captivating, and alluring sound that is the violin’s voice.
Michael Fischer crafts Violins, Violas, and Cellos at his Silver Lake workshop. He also repairs, restores, and sells old antique instruments. I have had some experience with Michael’s instruments as he was gracious enough to allow me to borrow one of his amazingly robust Gaspar Bertolotti da Salo Viola copies for an extended period as I prepared for auditions and concerts. I am forever indebted to him for his extraordinary grace and preternatural consideration.
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