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Idle listening and thoughts.

September 24, 2013 at 10:29 PM

last night I had a rare opportunity to go on a mild listening binge so here are my idle thoughts for what little they are worth.

First I felt I needed the Beethoven and since I revere Vengerov for both his musicianship and technique I started with him. The difficulty of the Beethoven is possibly deciding if it is Romantic or classical in a very loose sense. Venegerov clearly errs toward the former and I have to confess I disliked this version a great deal. Of course he has a wonderful sound but it seemed like he was trying to show off his musicality as if to say 'look at me. look at how deeply I interpret every note. ' For me the effect was over blown, lacking in flow and rather boring.

To get rid of the sense of disappointment I went back to Oistrakh live with Boult and the LSO . What a relief! Oistrakh past his prime but still absolute master musician and player. Naturalness, flow and humility is restored. An interesting point connected to other discussions on this site: it is said by some great violinists on this site that the correct way to play is with a flat bow hair and then great players and teachers are cited to, quite validly support this claim. This is not the way the Franco Belgian school played and it is patently obvious from these videos that Oistrakh is using an extremely tight bow hair and tilting the bow a great deal, especially throughout the slow movement where his sound is just magnificent.

Moved on to a player (Erick Friedman) I only knew through the Heifetz master class (disappointing) and the most exquisite recording of the Franck Sonata. First viewed a bob-bon by Debussy that was a charming tribute to Heifetz.Most striking impression was how desperately ill he clearly was. A huge man who seemed to me to be to have the grey look of fighting a losing battle against cancer. Second thought was how intense, precise and charming how playing was. Third thought was'why should such a huge, powerful man with such a wonderful technique have what seemed to be a relatively small sound?' Even with a mike on his short front it was, to my ears an introverted sound. Was the cause some kind of psychological trauma or did he not have a good enough violin?

Listened to his Preludeam and Allegro which is also fantastic. Decent tempo, great precision and classic spiccato. the playing of someone who really know their stuff. This is a player everyone should know.

Moved onto Paginini one with Mintz. The contrast in sheer quantity of sound was vast. Of course, Mintz was playing on el Cannon which some say is the most powerful violin around. Mintz is one of the all time greats and this recording is up there with the top handful. Only players such as Kogan, the young vengerov and Hirschhorn are technically a little better in my book. If you like crash bang Paginini this is hard to beat although the video is lousy. A great musician and violinist.

Well, that' s about it. Hope it was of a little interest.


From Thessa Tang
Posted on September 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM
Did you try a dose of Beethoven from Manoug Parikian?
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on September 25, 2013 at 6:37 PM
Buri, thanks for the review!

Your comparison result of Venegerov and Oistrakh will probably be echoed by many, myself included. It also reminds me of something recently James Ehnes said that one difference between studio recording and live performance is that, unlike the former, live performance is not meant to be listened to again and again.

Interesting and quite insightful that point was, arguably recordings, especially live ones of great violinists such as Oistrakh, Heifetz, Kogan, etc. are always to be listened again and again.

Is it just because those are the "historic" figures or is today’s studio recording business turning artists into craftsmen? Hmm...

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on September 25, 2013 at 7:04 PM
Hi Thessa,
I heard Parikien play the Beethoven life. One of the most thoughtful and brilliant I have ever heard.
From sharelle taylor
Posted on September 25, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Hi Buri, liking your thoughts, stimulates my watching and listening fest - I'm more engaged if I watch at the same time these days.
Regarding Freidman. I had a similar but unrelated / sort of related experience with a massage therapist recently. I've been to her previously, usually had great results, this last time, it actually felt like she did me 'harm', and when we were trying to arrange a next appointment she was having to fit it in around her own medical appointments for melanoma treatments. I'm not spiritual in the la de da sense, but that woman's energy did not transmit to healing energy that session, and i wonder if Friedman's energy could not transmit to music. Having worked with people who are well on the 'way out', you see the lights going out long before the body gives up.

As to playing style, I've been on a bit of an Oistrakh legacy kick lately, spurred by my infatuation I guess with Vavlav Hudecek. but what I do love is watching Igor - the violin seems to be held up for him, he suspends himself as if IT is going to support HIM ( for example in the bach double with Vaclav - , but in numerous other examples, its just noticable there) and that seems to lift his sound even more so than his father to me. I wonder why I read things like Igor 'never reaching his father's golden tone.'

From Thessa Tang
Posted on September 26, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Hi Buri,

You heard him play live? Wow, you are one lucky man!


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