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You just have to keep going.....(plus some Youtube)

May 5, 2009 at 4:55 AM


for two months at the end of last year I carried on working with what turned out to be pneumonia.  Although I am pretty much recovered I have been aware of some damage to the lungs and problems with shortness of breathe which I decided to heal by progressive cardio-vascular exercise. This is latin for `any more of this and I am going to throw up.`  It requires a red face to pronounce correctly.

I began cycling to school a few days a week.  A round trip of 18 km.   This was definitely cardio-vascular as screaming at motorists and giving them the finger increases all over body efificency.  Then I went to the next level of everyday at work for a couple of weeks.  Once this was less maiming I added a small mountain to the return trip.  No longer needing weekends to recover by sleeping for 18 hours at a stretch I began doing the mountain on its own for my weekend enjoyment.  At first I could only crawl up in the lowest gear of my mountain bike.  the concern and compassion on the face of the geriatric hikers speeding past me was touching.   Time passed and I knew I owned the little mountain.  My cyclist friend then called me out of the blue and suggested we try a 500 metre one which is basically 5 km of steep mountain road.  Our first try last week I was back to square one although it was a round trip of forty km. Nonethless,  I got a boost from my newly returned to Japan healer friend who during our usual bodywork noted that I actually had a high level of fitness she had never seen in me before.  Since I am on vacation I have been around this course everyday.  Not only has it become easy but I found a tiny little Japanese coffee and cake shop en route which does an almost English bread and butter pudding cake and excellent tea.   Undoes all the good work, but who cares.  First time I went in after sweating up the terrible mountain I think they were glad to have my colleague and I sitting on the outside wooden veranda sticking out twenty feet up.  It used to be an old communal rice storage building so the inside is constructed of gnarly ,  dark old wood and narrow staircases that never seemed designed to endure the clambering weight of two large cyclists in helmets.  On the other hand it is run y a Jazz afficiando and is just cool enough to be full of Japanese teenyboppers screaming `Cute, cute<@ at everything (except sweaty old me) on a daily basis. The verandah becomes more attractive by the minute.

All this seems to me to be a little like the violin.  Notice a problem. Set some goals and just keep going.  But be sensible get enough rest.  Be with good friends and eat yummy dessert to reward yourself.  Just don`t give up.

What`s new on youtube this week.  For me I found myself provoked and thus expect to be provoking.   I began researching the transcriptions of Chopin Nocturnes of which two seem the most common and also Mendelssohns song without words..  One  very strong impression I got was that modern players almost never pull these kinds of works off well.  I listened to a number of very talented and recognizable prizewinners of recent years and was very impressed with things like Tchaikovsky but at the end of the day this apparent demand for the modern player to have the biggest most powerful sound at all costs has been a very heavy price to play in terms of loss of variety in color.  Even Mr Perlman seemed a little at sea with the Chopin although admittedly it was a lousy recording. Vengerov,  who has the colors, talked about this briefly in his Academy masterclass but it doesn`t seem like anyone was listening.  

The most gorgeous playing of the Chopin for me-  sweet introspective and perfect was by the last person I expected-  Zino Francescatti.   Then there was warm ,  imaginative and tender playing by Jospeh Gingold of the Mazurka.  A truly unique sound and awesome technique which seemed to offer insight into just how he was as a man.  I also looked around for a singer who might be a viable model for violinists and my favorite kept coming up as Caballe. Check out her Il Pirata.  Needing a break from all the insane romanticism I lucked on Christian Ferras playing the last two movements of the Bach E major partita.   This seemed so perfect to me I was gobsmacked.  Shouldn`t have been really since of all the recordings of the Beethoven piano and violin sonatas his I have always rated at least in the top three in terms of musicality  and sensitivity.

Finally I found an absolute humdinger simply entitled Wienaiwski 01 with Mr Vengerov. This was some of the most spectacular violin playing I have ever seen.  I confess I read youtube comments because they are so weird. This time sometimes damned him with faint praise and suggested he wasn`t in the Heifetz,  Oistrakh class.  Well, my friend,  on that day,  on that occasion it was true.   He was better....



From Tasha Miner
Posted on May 5, 2009 at 5:11 AM

Oh, Buri.  I love reading about your meanderings on youtube.  I also like to check up on them myself.  Very interesting!  I too love Vengerov's masterclasses.

Congrats on the cardio exercise!  I do hope you take care of yourself!  Perhaps you should give up this prune addiction?  It might interfere with your medications...  I mean, I know you're in denial that it's gone that far, but you need to stay healthy.  It's probably going to be as difficult as quitting smoking, but like you said in your blog... You can do it!  Don't give up.  (Yeah, ok...  Just kidding!)

Best wishes!


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on May 5, 2009 at 10:24 AM

I bike to work too.  There is a big hill on the way home.  If it were the other way around, with the big hill on the way to work, I'd never make it. 

From Anne Horvath
Posted on May 5, 2009 at 1:06 PM

Speaking of Chopin, I was picking around the youtube for some listening to go with Schumann, and found Dinu Lipatti's Chopin.  There are no words for how lovely it is...

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on May 5, 2009 at 5:40 PM

 How nice to remind to all of us how sport is important!   Good luck!  Thanks for the youtube link!!! 


From Bethany Morris
Posted on May 5, 2009 at 8:09 PM

" I confess I read youtube comments because they are so weird."

I have yet to see anybody normal comment on YouTube, so that's not really a surprise. :)

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 6, 2009 at 4:51 AM


I used to bike all the time in Shanghai where the land is flat and there was hardly any cars to bully you. But I'm sure I won't live long if I were to bike here in any city in North America...  my hat off to all of whom are doing it.

As for colorful singers, how about this one, and  this one?



From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 6, 2009 at 6:05 AM


yep.I`m a big Schwarzkopf fan.   She did a whole series of amsterclasses on the BBC when I was a kid thta were jsut entrancing.  Wonder if you can get them on youtube?  BTW  How on earth do you make a link .  could you tell me how to do this using a Mac  bearing in mind the irony of me using a computer named after one of the companies I abhor most on this beautifl little planet...



From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 6, 2009 at 5:52 PM

Hi Buri, I'll see if I can find more of her stuff on Youbube...   for doing link, this is how I do it but hopefully works for MAC as well:

1) Find the site you want to be linked to your text and copy the URL,

2) go to's " Your Response" text box write your funny words and highlight the word(s) you want to show the link,

3) click the ball-shaped icon next to the eraser above the text box. The icon should lead to another box giving you the space to put in the URL of the site and click "ok" when done.

Hope this helps.



From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 6, 2009 at 8:25 PM


many thanks Yixi. Now I have an even sillier question. How doe sone do cut and paste ona mac.  The windows doesn`t work abd when I asked help it laughed at me.



From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 6, 2009 at 11:39 PM

Buri, I tried MAC once only but here is a link, which takes you to some tables telling you what to do with cut and paste either by usinig the keyboard (a shortcut which I prefer) or use the menu bar. Let me know if this helps.


From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 7, 2009 at 3:46 AM

Buri, Schwarzkopf's masterclasses can be found here.

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