Amazing Video Recording of Ruggiero Ricci - Paganini #4 & Le Streghe
June 30, 2012 at 2:54 AM
Dear Fellow Violinists,
As a devoted amateur violinist and reader of the many wonderful blogs on the violinist.com, I thought it my duty to send out an amazing Youtube link of my dear mentor & friend Maestro Ruggiero Ricci. I've already posted on Youtube several personal video recordings of him playing in the mid-80's, but this post was recently sent to me by David Bellugi, who is the son of the esteemed Italian conductor Piero Bellugi. Maestro Bellugi just recently passed away and this concert is a testament of their wonderful collaboration. I think violinists throughout the world can learn much from watching one of the Great Masters performing in his "prime." This is some of the most amazing violin playing I have ever heard or seen. He is one of the true Legends of our Instrument. Note how he holds the violin with his left hand (for those who have read his book on Left Hand Technique). Please enjoy!!!
Here is the link: Turin, Italy, April 3, 1970 Ruggiero Ricci, violin Orch. Sinf. di Torino della RAI Piero Bellugi, conductor
Dear Laurie...Mr. Ricci is adamantly against the use of a shoulder pad. As you know, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of the violin and has "figured it out" to a science. From my readings & studies of the great violinists of the past, it is one of the differences I see between players of today and those of the past. It may also be part of the reason why they sounded so unique and individual. The other key factor...playing completely relaxed!!! By holding the violin with the left hand, one is not jumping from note to note but actually extending either up or down, with the thumb & wrist being the fulcrum. Many times Mr. Ricci mentioned to me that Paganini was in fact a guitar player and that holding the violin evolved from that basic technique. Hard to explain in detail...but it's all spelled out in his book on Left Hand Technique. In any event, he is one of the Legends of the Violin...he will be turning 94 in July! He is not in the best of health these days. God bless him. Thank you for posting this link.
Here is Mr. Ricci on his 91st Birthday...we had a wonderful masterclass and he was quite the entertainer with his witty answers and insights on the violin. I'm sure your readers will enjoy.
This combination was recorded by maestros Ricci and Bellugi with the RPO. I was speaking soon afterwards with a girl who'd been there and told me Mr.Ricci didn't do the same bowing twice - maybe that's one of the reasons that his performances are always so fresh. Wonderful to watch - and he makes it look so easy you think "I should be able to play this" - Ha!
I think the fact that Ruggiero was such a phenomenal child prodigy might have to do with the ease of his playing, in that it is as if he is speaking! At this level...I think they just hear the music and the fingerings/bowings just fall into place. That's why he was able to learn so much music and have it memorized. Could you believe it! I even heard that he would learn a new encore piece in the morning and perform it that evening at the concert. Do you think about how you position your tongue when you speak? No!! Milstein also was noted for constantly changing his bowings & fingerings...it was not a trick, just something natural for these players. In the case of Ricci, I think he really worked hard at figuring things out, especially with his study of the Caprices. He always tells me that one really needs to be one's own best teacher!! When I complained about playing thirds in tune, he said, "just imagine someone has a gun to your head and will shoot if you play out of tune!!" Funny...but so very true. That's the intensity of practice it takes to get to this level. One other note...I find many violinists today playing in an over-exaggerated manner that is not "real." Fake is the word I would use...and there are so many noted violinists today, who really don't measure up. We were listening together to Elman's playing last year on his 93rd birthday...and I asked him what he thought of all the liberties in rhythm and tempo that the great master took. He told me...it's played honestly from the heart that's why it works!!! So very true. When Mr. Ricci plays...it is like he is weaving fine tapestry. The music just flows...and he has always looked at the big picture rather than a perfect performance that is ice cold. Just my humble thoughts...
Ricci's performance here is brilliant, he does indeed make it look easy and very relaxed. Notice that his bow curls a bit toward the tip as he brings his elbow around -- just at the tip. Maybe his tux was too stiff, but I have noticed the same in Isaac Stern's playing, even as a young man.
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