Shlomo Mintz' daring concert in NYC tomorrow!

November 17, 2007 at 04:45 PM · I'm flying to NYC tomorrow to hear something amazing: Shlomo Mintz is playing all 24 Paganini Caprices at Carnegie Hall.

I don't know what to say except---Can you imagine?

I think he is an amazing violinist and I'm happy to call him my friend, too. Go for it Shlomo!

Anyone in the NYC area going?

Replies (39)

November 17, 2007 at 04:48 PM · Oh I wish I could see it. Will you tell us about it? Go get your picture with him?

What a feat, really, I find it stunning. I have his 1984 recording, and I love it.

November 18, 2007 at 04:45 PM · Hi. I already went to see him when he did the Amsterdam gig of this tour a couple of weeks back. Absolutely stunning! It didn't sound like just a technical display at all but rather a great recital featuring the music of Paganini. A truly great artist and his management team couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. Enjoy!

November 18, 2007 at 06:14 PM · I enjoy that recording as well Laurie! It must be a really memorable thing to see him do that live

November 19, 2007 at 02:43 PM · I did go to see Mintz play the 24 caprices at the Carnegie Hall, and what a night it was! Mintz as usual displayed his formidable technique - be it perfect intonation, speed, agility, bow control. His performance was quite different from his 1984 DG recording. Chords were usually not spread out, but rather played near-simultaneously. The fingered octaves of Caprice #17 were pulled off casually, the chromatic octave runs in #23 were perfect in every sense, and in #24 the scales in 10ths and the left hand pizzicatos were delivered as if they were "no big deal". The entire audience got to its feet after the performance, after which Mintz gave #5 as an encore, but this time using a different bowing style. Mintz is obviously in total control of the violin and it is clear he also loves to perform!

November 20, 2007 at 11:14 AM · Yes! It was amazing. That stacatto I will not soon forget...

The audience was so into it, too. Several times, applause broke out spontaneously after a caprice, even though it was requested to wait until the end of each half of the program.

Such a feat of endurance, too!

BRAVO Shlomo!

November 20, 2007 at 12:56 PM · Shlomo has some CAJONES!

November 20, 2007 at 06:53 PM · The NY Times review:

November 20, 2007 at 08:21 PM · Through the haze of the astonishing depth, variety, and development of classical music since the time of Paganini, it is clear (at least to me) that Mr. Kozinn in his review completely fails to appreciate the revolutionary nature of the Paganini Caprices. Nor does he appear to understand their impact - technically, melodically, harmonically, and structurally, and aesthetically - on the birth of the Romantic Era, the giant technical leap that Paganini made, and the advancement in the role of the musican in society. If Mr. Kozinn were to have been listening to these pieces from that vantage point, I think he would have had an entirely different appreciation of both the music and the performance.

That's my own verbose way of saying that Mr. Kozinn does not understand how to listen to Paganini. It isn't just melody and technique.

That's my two cents worth (and I didn't even hear the concert).


November 20, 2007 at 08:53 PM · I agree with you, Sandy. Although the New York Times review was essentially a positive revue (and it should have been), it seemed a bit pseudo-elitist to "turn up the nose" at the program. The music does fit into an historical context, and the grouping of all 24 in one program is deserving of a more serious review, in my opinion.

I admired Shlomo's approach to the concert. He played these pieces with real style. It was a really interesting concert. As long as I have lived with these caprices and taught them, too--I learned several new things from him in this concert--things I'll be pondering for awhile.

What the review didn't tell you was that the crowd also went "nuts" for it. It was a sincere,enthusiastic, warm, well-earned and immediate standing ovation. ---I think most people there knew they gained much more than they would have by simply putting on a CD of the 24 caprices... I think his efforts should be really commended.

November 20, 2007 at 09:10 PM · I thought it was terrific for Mintz to do the Caprices. While solo Bach is now a well-accepted part of a recital, the Caprices lag. It is time that they become as well-accepted. One of my teachers, Rene Benedetti, was one of the first violinists to include either the Bach or the Caprices as part of his recitals.

November 20, 2007 at 10:39 PM · Greetings,

Sander, you are absoultely right when you say

>Mr. Kozinn does not understand how to listen to Paganini. It isn't just melody and technique.

But I also thought he doesn`t want to listen! To me that was a classic example of yellow journalism slithering by in the gutter behind a pseudo intellectual facade. The give away for me is to start with a poncy analogy that sounds good (stuff about types of food is a favorite) but has no real connection to the event in question. Having chosen ones framework for the critique the need for any analysis becames void. One just follows the guidelines one has set up for the main part of the review and then throw in a few technicla words at the end so people think you know somethign about the instrument.

Pisses me off.



November 20, 2007 at 11:21 PM · Bravo Buri--

You nailed Kozinn precisely. Just wonderful.

Thank you

It's rather a pity that this self-congratulatory, self-important prig won't get to read it.

November 20, 2007 at 11:38 PM · here's ricci playing caprices 13-24 live

November 21, 2007 at 01:04 AM · It's like they say: The only thing worse than not getting a review when you play in NY is getting a review.

November 21, 2007 at 03:22 AM · It's not a bad review in regard to Mintz. Kozinn is just letting everyone know he adheres to the conventional, acceptable, standard-form opinion that it's "superficial" music or whatever, and that he's thoroughly prepared to chomp into some beef, like a real man.

November 21, 2007 at 04:23 AM · Hope he has some after chow Mintz to take the smell of decaying carcass away...

November 21, 2007 at 05:47 AM · Some years ago (it was the 150 anniversary Paganini's death or something like that) Salvatore Accardo came to New York and played the same program. I don't recall the name of the Times reviewer, but he came right out and complained that the program was "dull" or "boring" or something along those lines. It was even more blunt than this.

So things haven't changed. This is typical of a certain school of thought, one that pervades at the Times.

In her book Nadia Salerno-Sonnenborg said that she no longer played certain pieces in New York becuase the critics looked down on them.

When Eugene Fodor came to NYC after the Tchaikovski competition, he began his recital with "Caprice Basque." The Times critic complained loudly about that and then scoffed at the number of females in the audience.

I suspect Mintz got a chuckle out of the review. I'm sure he wasn't surprised.


November 21, 2007 at 06:15 AM · A horrible review by Allan Kozinn of the New York Times.

Mr.Kozinn,obviously,is imperceptible of the art of music-making____appalling from beginning to end!!!

To even imagine it as a reflection of The New York Times is abhorrent to music lovers across the globe.

Shame upon The New York Times & Mr.Kozinn !!!

November 21, 2007 at 07:02 AM · Eh, it's the Times, what can you do. I've read some book reviews in those hallowed pages that have literally made me shriek with outrage...

November 21, 2007 at 09:38 AM · The NY Times reviewer wrote, "Spiccato bowing, bouncing the bow off the string, is plentiful, and in the 24th Caprice Paganini revisits everything he did in the first 23, adding variations in harmonics and left-hand pizzicato."

Where are the "variations in harmonics" in the 24th caprice?

November 21, 2007 at 01:34 PM · Does anyone know what Kozinn's background is? At least the Washington Post's main critic, Tim Page, was Julliard-trained.

November 21, 2007 at 01:44 PM · well, he has been around...

November 21, 2007 at 02:41 PM · So what's his problem? He appears to have the requisite training and knowledge.

November 21, 2007 at 02:49 PM · i think it is one of those you- shake- you- head- and- move- on moments:)

November 21, 2007 at 03:46 PM · I don't understand what makes it such a bad review.

November 21, 2007 at 11:39 PM · Well,I think its like this:

The violin community really is quite small.

When a member of the brethren is slightly disparaged in a public media,receivers of the info tend to become pee oo'd.

Perhaps the reviewer should revert to critiquing The Beatles.

November 22, 2007 at 03:18 AM · I was not at this concert but I know people who were and they all say it was amazing, and I'm sure it was. But as just a general comment, I'm not sure I'd be completely enthralled by a recital of ALL 24 caprices either. It's just too much of one thing all at once. It's like hearing all six Brandenburgs in one concert--all masterworks of the highest rank, but heard all at once they tend to run together and get monotonous. Just my $.02

November 22, 2007 at 07:18 AM · Dear friends,

it's really nice to read all your supportive comments and I want to say THANKS for this. Even I can understand the reaction to the NY Times review, but it was not a bad review at all. A review is always just subjective. I agree that this one didn't really reflect this great evening. No words about the absolutely enthusiastic audience in Carnegie Hall.

However,I can all of you assure, Shlomo Mintz doesn't "carry" reviews with him. Yesterday night he played in Frankfurt/Germany and the audience went as crazy as in Milan, Amsterdam, Paris or New York before. He plays for his audience and not for the critics.

We have chosen this programme on purpose for his birthday tour. I would have found it boring to send Shlomo around the globe with just one of the concertos as he has done it already for the last 35 years.

By the way for those who wants more Paganini played by Shlomo Mintz there is a new DVD out:

Paganini concerto played on Paganini's famous Il Canone violin.

Hope some of you have the chance to listen live to one of the upcoming performances of the Caprices.

Thanks to all of you,

Christa Morneweg

Management and Production Shlomo Mintz

November 23, 2007 at 02:13 AM · "He plays for his audience and not for the critics."

Oh yes, as I could feel and experience Wednesday eve in Frankfurt. By the way, it was this thread up until Senyo Ofori's comment plus the NYTimes review that made me jump into the car to go to Frankfurt to get a violin treat for a lifetime.

What a concert! Thank you, Shlomo Mintz.

Haj Kohlhaas

November 23, 2007 at 06:37 AM · the greatest destination which is attainable,is to obtain a smile from the the audience OR a tear.... [or at least-some sign of involvement into the way your fiddle speaks]...

your audience must rely upon your interpretation of the notation to the piece you are playing and incorporate it into their being----a task which is to strive forward to forever...

if you play from your heart,others will notice---if your playing is lackluster,others will heed.............

others 'hear' what you do....

play to them all,personaly---stand up and play----and be proud you can attempt to display your very BEST !!!

others will notice your approach....

attempting IS approaching---so,get it done---now !!!

November 25, 2007 at 07:00 AM · Time Page went to Juilliard? Wiki has him graduating from Columbia in 1979, and he was at Mannes when I was there (1975-80) so I doubt that. But I support the notion that he had good training...:-)

I did not hear the Mintz concert, but I did winess the Accardo feat. It was, of course, a stunning technical achievement. But I have to demur from the circle-the-wagons reaction people have to the Koznin review. I did think he sounded a bit jaded - a brilliant technical achievement, like Earl Wild dashing off an evening's worth or Liszt's most difficult pieces, is definitely worthy of respect and admiration. But I have to add myself to the list of poeple who fail to understand the great musical accomplishment of Paganini, here or elsewhere. The pieces are 99% show, not much in common with the musical innovations of the Bach solo repertory, or Chopin, or Liszt. (For this reason Heifetz refused to play Paganini in concert or recordings, and Oistrakh rarely did. Frankly I find the Locatelli etudes (or cadenzas, if you like) more interesting, and the Ysaye sonatas much deeper musically.

And it similarly says nothing (either good or bad) about a violinist's musicianship that they can play the Paganini Caprices perfectly. One Beethoven sonata says more about a musician than all the pieces Paganini wrote. To which I must add, that not a single one of the several violinists noted for their Paganini fireworks are, IMHO, especially notable for their interpretations of any other works. There are better and worse interpretations of the Caprices, but the best of them is not much of a guide to how the performer will do with Bach or Brahms or much else.

So ultimately I think Koznin was basically on target regarding the music, but he undersold the independently amazing feat of putting over 24 of the most difficult violin pieces ever written before an audience.

November 25, 2007 at 04:34 PM · Bravo, Anton! One of the best posts I've read here in a long time.

November 25, 2007 at 05:34 PM · Even though the Paganini Caprices are showy etudes revealing little profoundity I do think they are still music. To here them played well is like watching Cirque du Soleil at its best. To capture their light whimsy and scintillating quality is not a trivial feat. It is amazing enough that people can just plow through them, and it is truly spectacular when they are played with grace.

November 25, 2007 at 07:28 PM · Anton, I agree with the substance of your post. I would add, though, that we might all be less incensed had Mr. Kozinn refrained from structuring his review in the facile and offensively predictable way described by Buri. This framework sets up the whole review to read like a cheap shot, when it is not necessarily so.

November 25, 2007 at 07:24 PM · My teacher quotes Kreisler to the effect that 'we play the second rate pieces so that we can play the first rate pieces better'. [If I find it exactly I'll post it.]

As an example: The Viotti concertos do not approach Mozart or Beethoven but the best players of these concertos often do more than justice to Mozart and Beethoven. Sometimes it takes more work to find a suitable interpretation for something that is less than a masterpiece.

I think that many of the great violinists played the Caprices very well (there is testimony that Oistrakh played them in his studio rather brilliantly) but never played them in public. Is it a stretch to believe that his work on the Caprices informed his playing of say the Tchaikovsky?

An excellent performance of any piece is laudable in its own right regardless of the merits of the music.

November 26, 2007 at 12:29 AM · "all six Brandenburgs in one concert--"

That would be cruel and unnatural. If there were just one I wouldn't go. Give me Paggers any day.

November 26, 2007 at 08:32 PM · If I may say something in defense of poor, maligned, abused Mr. Paganini. Maybe the music he wrote is not Bach or Beethoven or Mozart or Brahms. But neither is it superficial or just technical show-off music.

There has to be a reason why his music is still so prominent in the repertoire and popular with audiences, while most other virtuoso-composers are not (at least not to the same extent). I think the answers are as follows:

1. Paganini's aesthetic muse was opera, and Italian opera in particular. He was dazzled by it. All of his music sounds like operatic arias, with the violin as a sort of super-voice. Even his most technical compositions project the drama of opera and the aura of a vocal performance, and you can almost get the sense that there are actual words flying by. His followers and imitators never got it; they thought it was just about showing off your technique. And I think that's why a lot of their music really does sound like technical exercises.

2. Paganini was an inspired (if not always original) melodist. Take any of those "trite" tunes buried in his violin concertos, and re-think them as operatic arias. In fact, if he had written operas and used those very same melodies as arias, everyone would be singing them and they would be considered some of the most beautiful arias ever written.

3. Therefore, his music is theatrical and dramatic, in the best sense of the terms. Think about the opening to the Violin Concerto #2. It actually sounds like a dramatic operatic overture in which you can actually see the curtain opening on the stage at the beginning of some dark drama. You have to play and listen to this music as a theatrical experience, a drama, a story in music, with the fact that it is performed in front of an audience as a key ingredient. This isn't music for listening on your ipod while you're taking a bath. It is to be performed in front of an awed and dazzled audience. This is the rock music of its day, by the rock star of his day.

4. His orchestral and piano accompaniments are classic accompaniments to vocal arias. They may be simple, but they work. They are like the perfect settings for beautiful gems.

5. His caprices (not just the 24th) are loaded with melodies that dig beneath the surface. Does everything beautiful have to be a cathedral in sound, like the Chaccone? His chord progressions are at once unexpected, inevitable, and right, just like Beethoven and Bach and Brahms and Mozart. How much more can you ask from a composer?

6. And speaking of gems, each Caprice, in its own terms, is like a beautifully shaped pearl, a marvel not only of technical accomplishment, but of melody and harmony and structure in miniature. In a concert of all of them, you have the opportunity to experience not only each individual pearl, but the entire necklace.

7. Artists succeed when they follow their vision to its limits, to its clearest expression. In this sense, Paganini succeeded just as much as Bach and Beethoven and Brahms and Mozart. It's just that the nature of his vision was perhaps different from theirs. It was as much a performer's vision as a composer's vision, but he did indeed follow it to his ultimate expression of it.

In other words, Paganini is a much better composer than many give him credit for (even by some of the greatest violinists). Maybe that's why it's only a handful of violinists - like Mintz or Ricci or Accardo - understand that beyond the technical challenge there is a considerable musical challenge in playing all of the Caprices in a concert. That musical challenge is NOT to make a technical exercise musical, but to rediscover the true music inherent in the technical exercise, and project that inner musical voice to the listener.

- Sandy

November 26, 2007 at 09:08 PM · Maybe you can see it two ways. I agree with you, but I understand how the other pov could exist. If you think he could have accomplished the same with music that's possible to play, you might think he's first and foremost a technical exercise. But if you think of it as everything you said, but with this difficulty piled on, for esthetic reasons as part of the whole, it takes on the meaning you've given it. The experience is all very subjective and dependent on what the listener brings to it. Regarding unpredictable but inevitable, for fun find something by Mozart you're unfamiliar with and follow it trying to predict what the next note will be.

November 27, 2007 at 01:22 AM · Sandy,

Very well put.

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