Printer-friendly version

Pain and Ecstasy

May 21, 2009 at 8:51 PM


at the end of year graduation ceremony at one of my schools  I didn`t recognize one of the teachers saying goodbye.  I assumed either she or I had turned up in the wrong building that day but it turned out she had a year off with pregnancy.  The gist of her speech was `I am no good at anything but I am a fantastic singer.` She then sang the most horrible a capella version of amazing grace I have ever heard.  The singing style is a peculiarly Japanese one of `I am very small so I must fill my diaphragm (!) with air,  contract the whole body and yell.  I run out of breath every two words so I stop and have a long gasping refill.`  Apparently it was in English but I couldn`t hear a word through the six inch vibrato.   One of the more painful experiences of my life.  A few weeks later I turned up at the opening ceremony of my other schools and it seems she wa s transferred there so I got the same thing.  Terror!  Then my other school suddenly decided that I would be attending the music club.  Sure enough she was the visiting guidance person and she sang.....Satre was right.

Quote from Elizabeth Green `Practicing Successfully.`

`There is a split second of timing- the difference in movement between the two hands- something of which the player is totally unconscious.  How do we know this?  Because when professional string players type rapidly there are so many errors here and there in the reversal of letter pairs.  Instead of `it` the string player types `ti@ for example.  When this mistake happens in any word,  the left hand letter is invariably typed before the right hand letter.`

One of the most mind blowing Beethoven concertos around is the relatively newly released recording of Milstein playing it with Boult (available from Shar).  It combines fiery,  swashbuckling playing with perfect technique and an awesome conception of how this concerto should be. Not only that,  but the London Philharmonic provides an incredible demonstration of how good an orchestra can be.  Perhaps not the greatest solo players around but watch the unanimity of part of bow use.  Reminds me of how good the Czech Phil is in that department.

What I like in a great performance is when something stops you in your tracks because it is different  but not obviously wrong ;)  One then has to sit back and figure out what might be the reaosoning and in the process ones own ideas are stretched and altered.  This performance is mind altering.  Just one example:  after the cadenza is one of the most sublime tunes ever written for the violin and I love heairng it as a plaintive voice in the distance.  A kind of sweet pain about the meaning of it all or whatever.  Milstein plays it rather loudly and directly as though he has no other thought than demonstrating a theme for a musically clueless TV interviewer.   It kind of threw me a bit.  Then he starts the second movement and its quite fast and unsentimental but beautiful.  Refreshing rather than grimacing in some kind of heaven snet constipation.   Then near the end suddenly `wham`out of no -where he slips into the sound I have always assumed was right for the first movement after the cadenza and it is just painful.  The whole picture just comes into focus and I realize that the sound may not be right in the first movement all the time.  A bold ,  masculine and probing 1st movement ending with the plaintive cry of a jilted lover? Perhaps not!   And when one does hear that sound in the slow movement where it belongs it is the first time and it offers up a truth to ones ears that one can never forget.





From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 21, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Ahs, tghat iexplaine it

From Bill Busen
Posted on May 21, 2009 at 10:36 PM

This may catch on quciker than rpunes.

Posted on May 21, 2009 at 11:29 PM

Laurie & Buri obviously own  keyboards made by the same manufacturer   


From David Russell
Posted on May 22, 2009 at 12:43 AM

I nkew  Eilzabteh Geerne. Seh wsa a samtr cooike! Graet layd, too.


Enjoyued it, Brui

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 22, 2009 at 1:58 AM

Buri, some singers should pay parrots for lessons, such as this one.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on May 22, 2009 at 10:17 PM

I once went to a conservatory student concert and an old woman sang someting yelling like a hung person!!! It was terrible.  Young students hided behind their parents to laugh even those really well brought up from neat and tidy families.  I put may nails (well, do violinists have nails?) on my mom's arm and squeeze a little to provide myself from laughing too much.  And I learned that the signer was a very very skilled professional musician in another instrument... Like what you never know... :)


This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings
Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings

National Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra

Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Borromeo Music Festival

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine