on a whim I just read Laurie's now archived interview with Benjamin Beilman. Obviously an articulate and intelligent young artist, he made the following comment about his lesson`s with Tetzlaff:
`I worked on some Bach, and I worked on the Sibelius concerto. I already felt very comfortable with the Sibelius, but it was amazing because he took a piece that I felt like I knew very, very well and he completely turned it on its head for me. He opened up completely different avenues and ways of thinking. His biggest theme is about sound, and imagination with sound. That was fascinating.`
After reading this I thought I would give myself a little mental exercise so I took a very quick look at his Sibelius on You Tube. It`s very fine indeed, although the comments about it being the best performance on you tube shed a lot of light on the faculties of people who spend more time on face-book than in the practice room....
My idea was to listen to about five minutes of the first movement and then put myself in Tetzlaff`s shoes. Could I figure out anything of what Tetzlaff might have been saying or be completely wrong?
Having already noted that he really is remarkable I sort of came up with these points:
1) In my opinion he is -a little- over focused on using vibrato as the major expressive tool at the expense of the bow. This seems to cause some very slightly intrusive stop start effects in the vibrato that would have been more pleasing if the bowing had led the effect (if that was really what was intended) and the vibrato supported it. Practicing without vibrato is always useful...
2) He did not yet have absolutely perfect control of balancing the bow. This manifested itself in two ways. First he sometimes crunched a string when double-stopping and second he sometimes put too much weight on the brighter upper strings at the expense of the lower darkness which is crucial in the Sibelius. Even with global warming the North is not that sunny....
3) Related to the above, I feel he needed to expand his mental concept of the bass end of the violin. perhaps listening to those great Russian singers like Chaliapin or whatever his name is...
The bass end does not quite live up to the beauty of the soprano end and here the vibrato could be an interesting avenue.
4) He seems to have a slight gap in his technique in terms of playing harmonics at the nose bleed end of the fingerboard. I mean this in terms of using bow speed more effectively to help the note ring, but also not thinking of the issue as a technical one, but as an act of musical expression. From this perspective more thought could have gone into the speed of the shift and its relation to use of the bow.
These were the possibilities that flashed through my mind. I enjoy this kind of exercise and would be interested to see what people think of those comments.
Bet he`s a completely different player now though....;)
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