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A smorsgabord of soul.

April 22, 2009 at 4:19 AM


just a quick blog to highlight some highlights of my youtubing.  

Started out looking for Toscha Seidel.   One of the most highly rated of Auer`s greats he actually left the solo field to pursue work in the film industry so recordings are in fairly short supply.  This is actually rather a shame.  To my ears he has one of the most beautiful,  rich violin sounds -ever-  It`s just so rich and resonant it could stop a charging buffalo in its tracks.  Its coupled with a very accurate technique.   Why did he not have the same legendary career as Heifetz?  I am a little in agreement with some critics who have said his playing was just a little lacking the last one millionth percent of fluid nuance that characterises the truly immortal artists.  If you like,  ther e is just a slight absence of variety in his sound and approach.   However,  any violnist who has not heard this extraordinary playing and sound is missing out on something really special.  I tried cross comparisns of performance of Traumerie to see how things stood.  Elman was of course famous for his extraordinary sound but I think Seidel beats him hands down.  Elman allows more indivduality and experimentation in his playing as per my orignal reservation.   Went to a modern recording by one of my favorite artists- Joshua Bell.   Unfortunately,  the live performance available sound rather thin and uninspired in comparison with the previous recordings so just for a laugh I thought I`d  go for a piano version.  That was Horowitz in his last performance in Moscow which I heard about twenty five years ago.   It is so beautiful you can feel the emotions of the audience suspended in the stratosphere.  Some of the greatest music making one could wish for.  If you are going to play Traumerie then listening to Horowitz is a must.  He was Schumann personfied.  It`s almost painful!

Then I starting thinking about how many Russian violinists said they were profoundly influenced by the singer Chaliapin so I went to his recording from Don Quixote.  This is a sound I have never heard before and don`t expect to hear live again.  It`s a force of nature that comes out of the very bowels of the earth and suspends all sense of reality .   At that moment I understand precisely what Milstein et al felt when they saw him.  In MIlstein`s autobiography he describes a strange sickness he suffered after hearing Chaliapin-an overdose of art.  I can believe it.

I was in the singing arena so I though I`d jump to a Lotte Lehmann masterclass.  If you want a demonstration of how not to do it here it is.  A young artist sang a song by Brahms. Lehneman stood said `let me show you` and then sang it all the way through again.  End of story.  Mmmmm.......

Finally I felt like a look at an artist I do`t usually listen to that much- Issac Stern.  His playing of a Mozart piano and violin sonata is absolutely wonderful.  Exemplary musicianship,  technique ,  taste,  bow control.  I have to say that I have yet to see any of today`s players get that close to just flawless Mozart and music although I have heard Hilary Hahn live come close.  The sheer bow control was awesome.  What I did miss a litlte in his playing was the way someone like Milstein (a maste rof Mozart for me)  occasionally used a more luminous or tranparent tone color.  Stern has a huge range of expression but his palette does tend to avoid the ocasisonal watercolor.  The hues are very solid.

Hope there is something here of interest to someone.  If not go back to Monty Python.



From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 22, 2009 at 6:23 AM

I like your YouTube meanderings, Buri. :) I also understand Milstein's illness, I've felt it sometimes on weeks that have had long, intense rehearsals every day for a piece like, say, Mahler 2 or 6, and it follows me around everywhere, in my head every moment. Once, in the midst of such a week, feeling completely saturated and highly wrought, I asked a critic friend, "How do you stand it, how do you deal with it? So much music and art, all the time, how can you stand it?" He just looked completely puzzled, like he had no idea what I was talking about. I don't think he did, either.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on April 22, 2009 at 10:14 AM


glad you like my meanderings.  There is so much stuff I am enjoying I never get around to mentioning.

As f or the reaction, maybe we are all just a bit nuts.  Seriously though,  I think we really charge up our nervous systems at times.   I have a lot of trouble coming down after concerts.  Downing a few beers used to help but I haveN@t touched alcohol for years and prune juice leaves the body before it can ferment.  These kind of energy issues really fascinate me.  I wonder if anyone else has some good ideas for unwinding?


From Dottie Case
Posted on April 22, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Hi Buri...I am in a similar position as you with your new computer.  Because I live in such a rural area, I've only had high-speed internet since last fall.  I've just begun some of my own You Tube wanderings, and frankly I'm shocked at how much truly amazing stuff is posted there for us to browse through.

Last week, I gave a student of mine the Novacek Perpetuo Moto.  I wanted him hear an example of it being done well, do I went to YouTUbe and found every major player I could find who had a recording posted of it.  That was a first for cycle between great players, all doing the same piece.  Wow!, what a education, to be able to do back-to-back comparisons. 

I realized then that there is so much I could be learning, just by visiting the some ways, it's like we have the possibility of having an advanced level Music History course, just by watching and listening, and evaluating. 

I discovered the violinist Michael Rabin, of whom I had known nothing.  I realize that I am still very much a novice in this field, but am excited by the free access to information by way of sites like YouTube, and  Ten years ago, none of this would have been available to me, so I'm grateful.

Thank you for your thoughtful (always) comments.  It makes me want to spend even more time learning about this instrument and its music....a deep pool to be explored.



From David Sanderson
Posted on April 22, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Seidel is all glissandi, but tastefully, just gorgeous slides that add qualities you can't get with single notes.  And I wonder if he'd be allowed to get away with so much of that these days - were the "rules" looser in 1908?  I come at this from fiddling/traditional music (you have been warned...), and what I hear in the Seidel performance is echoes of klezmer, where by sliding around you get at notes that give an edge to the music, same as blues, jazz etc.

And we must acknowledge the magic of the old 78s that we can hear well 100 years later and on a windup player at that (and how long will CDs last?).   The Quijote solo you found brings to mind the early Caruso recordings, which are extraordinarily powerful notwithstanding the acoustic recording technology.  His voice seems to have been particularly compatible with the recording systems, and when he lets loose it will make you sit up and take notice even on a mechanical player.

From Adam Clifford
Posted on April 22, 2009 at 4:34 PM

 Buri, I totally understand what you're saying of Mr. Seidel. His playing is so profound, individualistic, yet characteristicly 'old school!' His recording of Brahms Sonata no. 2 made me rethink how to approach violin playing!

On a similar note, I was YouTubing early and found this wonderful video of Arnold Steinhardt playing the Edvard Sonata no. 3- I was taken aback by his individual style of playing, as I'd only heard recordings of the Guarneri String Quartet as a whole. The whole time I was listening I thought Mr. Steinhardt's sound was so strikingly similar to Toscha Seidel. I read that he actually studied with Mr. Seidel! I suppose that's a bit coincidental!

From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 Listening to old performers is a very dangerous pastime. I have listened to so many that I can no longer listen to a violinist post Heifetz/Milstein. 

Kreisler, Enescu, Thibaud, Quiroga, Powell etc. etc. played circles around modern players. 

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 25, 2009 at 5:34 AM

I learned to play Traumerei long ago, as a beginning student.  I liked it and played it often.  Then I listened to and watched Horowitz play it on his Moscow DVD, and I've never played it since.  Viva Horowitz.

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