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Corwin Slack

Filling a gap...

July 7, 2007 at 2:00 AM

Some parts of a violinist's education really are easy. After all what does it take to listen to a recording or attend a performance? But oh how lacking this part of an education can be.

I didn’t hear a complete start to finish recording of Kreisler playing anything until I was in my late 40s. I just heard a recording of Ysaÿe this year.

This is a shameful gap but I wonder how many others out there share it with me. I think one can be forgiven for not listening to recordings of Pablo Sarasate, Manuel Quiroga, Maude Powell, Henri Marteau , Jacques Thibaud, Kubelik, Prihoda etc. These violinists are truly special and no one contemplating a “finished” education should forgo hearing their stunning playing but it is inexcusable to admit that one has not heard Ysaÿe or Kreisler. These men are absolute giants of their art. They were extolled by peers and mentors some of whom had heard Paganini play.

Here is my list of the amazing things about their playing.

1. Tone
2. Tone
3. Tone
4. Tone
5. Intonation
6. Phrasing
7. Sonority
8. Virtuosity (anyone ever heard the finale of the Mendelssohn Concerto like Ysaye plays it?)
9. etc.

Personally I think they leave nearly everyone else in the dust.

Everything Ysaÿe ever recorded can be heard on this album Eugène Ysaÿe: Violinist & Conductor (Complete Violin Recordings

Kreisler was prolific and his complete recorded oeuvre for Victor alone takes 10 CDs and this doesn’t include any concertos etc. His recording of the Mozart Concerto No. 4 is definitive as far as I am concerned.

The links I have given include access to sound samples if you are on a budget. You can get a taste of this playing. Please don’t let the old recording technology set you back. Listen very carefully and you’ll hear the true sound of the violin.

I was listening to Ysaÿe the other night with my teacher. He said that it was so wonderful to hear someone make their sound with the bow instead of relying on their vibrato.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on July 7, 2007 at 3:21 AM
That's so funny, I just listened to parts of the Ysaye recording yesterday because I'm playing the Ballade. The recording was a friend's, and I was wondering where to get it. If I get it soon enough, I can listen to it before I'm 40! ;) But time's a-wastin', so thanks for the link...
From Albert Justice
Posted on July 7, 2007 at 3:39 AM
Thank you so much for that link. Getting to hear Ysaye play pieces Humoresque was a real treat, and very actually instructional in a treatment kind of way for my future. I love the way he lingered with the rests.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 7, 2007 at 4:36 AM
When I first heard Ysaye (also very late) he just blew me away. I have only a couple of items on a disc of old timers and on the whole he towers above everone.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on July 7, 2007 at 1:25 PM
These Gen Yers have no idea how easy it is for them. I didn't see video of Heifetz playing until I was 20. And now I can pull him up on the Youtube whenever my little heart desires!

"The Record Shelf" was a really good program on NPR. That guy used to play all sorts of stuff still only on 78s. I will never forget the first time I heard Furtwangler's Tchaikovsky 4!

Also, performance aside, it is just so easy to hear something other than Tchaikovsky's 4th. My Naxos on-line subscription paid for itself in one day.

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