September 2012

Return from Napa, plus a video

September 23, 2012 11:34

I returned to my wife and dog in Pasadena last night, after a whirlwind week at the Artistworks studio in Napa, CA. We were able to film my whole curriculum for the Violin School during the 7 days in the studio, with the exception of 5 or 6 of the Dont and Kreutzer etudes. Sorry Jacob and Rodolphe! We were down to the last hour, with the bus ready to take me to the airport, and I was pleading, "I have to get a good take of Dont #1 at least!" The crew was great and kept my spirits up when my energy started to flag. They had to keep track of 3 cameras at all times, up to 5 for certain pieces, plus levels for the voice, violin and piano. They also had to keep my face powdered so that I looked a little less like I'd stepped out into the light of day for the first time in a month!

Here's a "behind-the scenes" video that co-founder Patricia Butler took on her iPhone during one of our takes. Here, pianist Hugh Sung (inventor of the Air Turn wireless pedal page-turning system, no less!) plays the part of the orchestra for Smetana's Bartered Bride Overture. He was a sport for putting together orchestral reductions for all 69 of our excerpts!

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Recording 69 different orchestral solos, etudes and excerpts this week

September 10, 2012 12:43

In 6 days I'll begin a week of recording up in the Napa, CA studio of Artistworks. They've put together a classical music campus where students can exchange videos with teachers of violin, flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, acoustic guitar and piano. The focus for the orchestral instruments will be audition excerpts, so that's my job over the 7 days in the studio: get 69 different excerpts on video. I'll also be recording concerto movements, a little solo Bach and a selection of etudes. Finally, there will be lessons on the basics such as shifting, vibrato, general practice techniques, etc. Overall it will total a few hundred video lessons, and I've put a list of the selections at the end of this entry.

I'm very excited since this is exactly what I've wanted to do for so many years: get videos of these excerpts online! I put one (the Schumann scherzo) up myself, but it took so much effort shooting and editing that I decided I couldn't really do that for very many pieces. Plus the quality was not what I wanted. Next week, I won't have to worry about any of the technical aspects: Artistworks has 3 cameras, a teleprompter, who knows how many sound people... what a relief!

Preparing this material has been an interesting challenge, since it covers such a wide range of styles. I tried to include most excerpts that you see on professional audition lists these days, and usually that holds for non-professional lists as well. That means that just like in an audition, I'll be going from Bach to Bartok to Mozart to Brahms and back again. Only this time, fortunately, I'll get a "take 2" if I need it!

Then there are the etudes. The prospect of recording etudes is at once exhilarating and terrifying. I was always told to practice each Kreutzer as if I had to give a performance of it at the end of the week, and it's finally coming true! I enlisted the help of my teacher from age 10-18, Dan Mason, on the etudes actually, since for many of them I was too young to remember how he taught them. The Kreutzer set of 42, in particular, are much richer than I remembered. There's a reason generations of violinists have used that book to hone their technique: they're tough! The time I spent with Dan a couple of weeks ago was especially valuable as he was able to share some insights from his time in the Heifetz studio at USC. Heifetz, as you may know, used the Kreutzer, Dont and Schradieck books in his teaching, among others. He also practiced them himself, even in adulthood. Dan told me some great Heifetz stories which I'll share in the recordings.

OK, here's one: he delighted in devising devilish variations and making students attempt them on sight. Kreutzer No. 8 was a favorite of his in this regard. It's in 6/8, so each measure has 2 groups of 6 notes. One day, he made everyone try this bowing pattern: one separate, 4 slurred. Try it and see! Apparently there was one student who could do it immediately, which infuriated the master to no end! This, by the way, was the same student who played with a shoulder rest. Heifetz did not allow them in the studio, so the student would simply use it everywhere but in class!

I'll update you as the recording approaches. In the meantime, they've put a promo video on Youtube that includes everyone but me (since my content will have to be added in a couple of weeks):

I'll be in the studio September 16-22, and here's the list of what I'll be recording.

Cheers to you,

Mozart 4, 1st mvt
Mozart 4, 2nd mvt
Mozart 5, 1st mvt
Mozart 5, 2nd mvt
Brahms, 1st mvt exposition
Mendelssohn, 1st mvt exposition
Sibelius, 1st mvt exposition
Tchaikovsky, 1st mvt exposition
Bach a minor, 3rd mvt
Bach a minor, 4th mvt

Kreutzer 1
Kreutzer 2
Kreutzer 4
Kreutzer 7
Kreutzer 8
Kreutzer 9
Kreutzer 10
Kreutzer 11
Sevcik Op. 8
Kreutzer 12
Kreutzer 13
Kreutzer 15
Kreutzer 16
Kreutzer 29
Kreutzer 32
Kreutzer 37
Dont 1
Dont 2
Dont 3
Dont 6
Kreutzer 19
Kreutzer 35
Kreutzer 38
Dont 8
Dont 19

Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, 5th mvt (2nd violin), mm. 265-317
Beethoven 1, 4th mvt, opening-m. 22
Beethoven 3, 3rd mvt (Scherzo), opening-reh. B
Beethoven 6, 4th mvt “Storm” (2nd violin), opening-2 before reh. C
Beethoven 9, 2nd mvt, opening-9 after reh. C
Beethoven 9, 3rd mvt mm. 99-114
Brahms 1, 1st mvt, opening-reh. B
Brahms 2, m. 17-reh. B
Brahms 4, 1st mvt, opening-4 before reh. C
Brahms 4, 1st mvt, 2 before reh. Q-end
Brahms 4, 2nd mvt, 6 before reh. E-reh. F
Brahms 4, 3rd mvt, opening-reh. B
Brahms 4, 4th mvt, 8 before reh. B-reh. D
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Var. 1
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Var. 5, opening-reh. H
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Var. 6, m. 274-end
Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, 3rd mvt (2nd violin), mm. 238-274
Bruckner 9, 3rd mvt (2nd violin), reh. I-reh. K
Copland 3, 4th mvt, 4 after reh. 90-reh. 93
Debussy La Mer, 2nd mvt, reh. 19-reh. 20
Debussy La Mer, 2nd mvt, reh. 33-5 before reh. 39
Elgar Enigma Variations, 2nd mvt, opening-7 before reh. 7
Mahler 1, 4th mvt, reh. 15-reh. 19
Mahler 5, 1st mvt, reh. 7-reh. 11
Mahler 9, 1st mvt, 3 after reh. 12-reh. 13
Mahler 9, 2nd mvt, reh. 25-23 before reh. 26 (Tempo I subito)
Mahler 9, 3rd mvt, 7 after reh. 41-7 after reh. 42
Mahler 9, 4th mvt, opening-m. 12
Mahler 10, reh. 21-reh. 23
Mendelssohn 4, 1st mvt, opening-m. 66
Mendelssohn Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scherzo, mm. 17-99
Mozart 35, 4th mvt, opening-m. 37
Mozart 39, 1st mvt, opening-m. 14
Mozart 39, 1st mvt, mm. 26-97
Mozart 39, 2nd mvt, opening-m. 19
Mozart 39, 2nd mvt, mm. 96-108
Mozart 39, 4th mvt, opening-m. 78
Mozart 41, 4th mvt (2nd violin), opening-reh. A
Mozart Magic Flute Overture (2nd violin), mm. 16-59
Prokofiev Classical Symphony, 1st mvt, opening-reh. 12
Prokofiev Classical Symphony, 4th mvt, opening-4 before reh. 52
Rachmaninov Symphony 2, 11 before reh. 33-4 after reh. 34
Schoenberg Verklarte Nacht, mm. 310-319
Schubert 2, 1st mvt, mm. 11-47
Schumann 2 ,2nd mvt, opening-m.54 and coda (mm. 360-end)
Shostakovich 5, 1st mvt, opening-2 after reh. 5
Shostakovich 5, 1st mvt, reh. 32-3 after reh. 38
Smetana Bartered Bride Overture, opening-reh. C
Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra, reh. 3-4 after reh. 6
Strauss Don Juan, opening-9 before reh. D
Tchaikovsky, Nutcracker Overture, 5 after reh. F-end
Bach B minor Mass, No. 5 “Laudamus Te”, opening-m. 12
Bach St Matthew Passion, No. 47 “Erbarme dich” (Orchestra 1), opening-reh. A
Bach St Matthew Passion, No. 42 “Gebt ... wieder” (Orchestra 2), opening-m. 13
Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Sanctus, 4 before reh. E-1 after reh. F
Brahms 1, 2nd mvt, mm. 90-105
Dvorak 8, Adagio, reh. D-8 after reh. D
Haydn 103, mvt 2, mm. 84-108
Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol, 3rd mvt, reh. H-10 before end
Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol, 4th mvt, cadenza before reh. L (no piano)
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, 1st mvt opening solo (no piano)
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, 2nd mvt opening solo (no piano)
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, 3rd mvt, 8 after reh. K-reh. N (with piano)
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, 4th mvt solos before reh. A (no piano)
Shostakovich 5, 3rd mvt, 2 before reh. 57-reh. 59 (no piano)
Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra, 7 after reh. 26-reh. 29
Strauss Ein Heldenleben, reh. 22-reh. 31 (no piano)
Strauss Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, No. 4, 8 before reh. 45-end
Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, “White Swan” Pas D’Action

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