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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Hindemith and my new viola craze

July 18, 2007 at 9:35 PM

This is a recording of the Hindemith duo for viola and Cello that was recorded last June at a Tribute recital (in memory of my father, who was a violist.....I arranged some of his music, too, I'll post those another time). I am on viola and my friend Tamar Moten is on cello. Her part is harder than mine. Anyhow...

I'm so excited! I have been struggling with my viola for about a year or so now. That was either the point where I was done experimenting with the newness of a different instrument, had put on a serious recital, (serious as in...Bach suite, Hindemith duo for viola and cello, the Passacaglia me on the viola part, Bruch Romance, etc...and the Faure violin sonata two movt.s), or had come to the point where I needed more out of an instrument and wasn't getting it. I don't know. But I've been so frustrated with it's lack of flexability and total inability to FIT. Accessories or me, personally. It has a great sound on some days, but the C string takes much work to clean...well. In a nutshell, it might be a good instrument for someone else, but it is too heavy, thick, and slow-responding and and and and... for me.

The problem is that I am poor and can't just go out and buy a new viola....or any viola. The luthier shops around here don't do trade ins (like a car dealership would) and putting an instrument on consignment could mean years before a sale. Anyhow. So I contacted my violin teacher who has sold me my concert violin, this particular viola, several good bows...etc.

He has another viola that he is willing to trade with this one, add on another $1,200.00. He trusts me to pay in monthly installments because I always have done precisely that...making it a priority in my finances out of respect. The instrument (from what he says) easy to play. It is a light French instrument, smaller than the one I have now (although the one I have now is 15.5", it is really big in other ways if that makes sense), and has the mellow sound I like. I get to pick it up next MOnday and try it for a week or so.

I really needed this possibility to come along in order to keep the pilot light lit in the viola department. I love the viola, but between trying to avoid injury because of an ill-fit and fighting with it musically....well. I'm on fire now!

I arranged the Bach double for violin and viola and am recording both parts. I have the Largo recorded how I like it. I recorded the vivace last night and it needs some parts re-done. I'm putting the Allegro onto Finale today and will record that soon. My violin is a French violin from 1815. I wonder how the two will sound together if I like this french viola? Anyway. then I'm going to re-record all three movements with the other viola and compare.

*sigh* another atrociously long blog from Jennifer that could have been said in one or two paragraphs. Somehow.... :)


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 18, 2007 at 11:23 PM

Congratulations on the possibility of finding a viola that can help keep the fire lit. I really sympathize with the frustrations of playing on an instrument that's a bad fit and not being able to get a better one. I'm still feeling like I'm in that position with the violin. No matter what I do, it still sounds like cardboard on the G. I'm almost ready to give up on it and just play the viola all the time, but I ordered some Infeld Reds first to see if they'd help.

Please post your recording of the Bach double for violin and viola when you finish it! I really enjoy the sound of your Bach.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 19, 2007 at 5:07 AM
Jennifer, why did you start playing viola? Do you feel the same way about wanting to play the viola now? You might want to think again about your motivation after you've struggled so much. I'm not suggesting that you give it up, just trying to find out how you feel about your goals today.

Please post the Bach when you get it done. I'm sure it will be beautiful.

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on July 19, 2007 at 9:34 AM
Well, I started playing viola because I had always wanted to, but no viola I ever played fit well and it caused pain. Then my father passed away in Nov. of 2005. It was very sudden, and I went up to Canada for the funeral. While there, I played his viola (he was a violist) and it was the most beautiful, lovely, viola sound I'd ever heard from my body and musical soul. The viola was a perfect fit. I am built a lot like him, only female version :). I fell in love with both his viola and the desire to play viola all over again. I love the viola, everything about it except maybe not being able to latch onto literature (I think due to ill-fit of viola). I really wanted and hoped to be able to have his viola, or buy it. But it is almost 20 thousand dollars and the person selling it in the family needs the money for a car that will last her the rest of her life. Monthly payments of a hundred bucks a month won't really work in that situation.

But I'm not giving up. I just need to find the instrument that will allow me to feel the sound and love for the sound I make and music I play like his did. It doesn't have to be that instrument, but one that suits me as well.

That's the story in a nutshell.

I'll post my Bach when I'm done with it. It will be a few weeks. I've got one version of the Largo I like, but the vivace I think will be better on the new instrument. Maybe. Hoping. Sound-wise. This viola is lovely with slow lush pieces. I think I could post the Largo now....

Of course, it is sans piano....I know that isn't really "appropriate" in the real classical world. But I'm not necessarily stuck to that world...totallly.

Hope it is satisfying...

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