Portamento in baroque

June 27, 2016 at 02:06 PM · Specifically Bach. Anyone care to weigh in?

Replies (82)

June 27, 2016 at 02:07 PM · Tread lightly.

June 27, 2016 at 06:35 PM · Porta-Johann?

June 27, 2016 at 07:37 PM · Listen to the Vivaldi G minor by Elman (link below), it's an interesting interpretation with lots of portamento. I like it and don't really understand why violinists are generally so rigid about it, especially considering that improvisation of ornamentation was the norm in the baroque era. How do we even know portamento was frowned upon. Maybe Bach would have liked it, does anyone have any evidence to the contrary?

https://youtube.com/watch?v=0hl75p71OK8

June 27, 2016 at 07:51 PM · The more the better ...

June 27, 2016 at 09:41 PM · Hi. From a HIP perspective - no problem. Although this would have been much more common in classical and romantic repertoire, there is no reason that it can't be used (with caution) in baroque music. One example I can think of would be the Phrygian cadence at the end of the first movement of the A minor sonata.

June 28, 2016 at 10:08 AM · Portamento is much more difficult to play with no chin or shoulder rest and/or your violin in a slightly lower position. Not impossible but difficult enough that it can't have been common. That combined with the lack of mention it gets in Mozart and Quantz and you probably have your answer.

June 28, 2016 at 11:17 AM · Interesting responses. So it most likely wasn't used much, or at least not musically. So perhaps Bach et al wouldn't actually have any objection to it if it had been available. Either way, I will use sparingly at least for the sake of my teacher's sanity.

June 28, 2016 at 12:07 PM · HIP is a major bugaboo of mine. I'll have a lot to say and share but for the moment will limit myself to this: In doing some cursory research I have not come up with references in string playing, for or against portamento or glissando in the Baroque period. But references to this in VOCAL music go back to the 17th century. If singers did it, string players followed suit.

There are, btw, plenty of references to vibrato in string playing, going back to the 16th century. Vibrato-less string playing, like the standardization of pitch to 415, is a 20th century invention.

I don't use a shoulder rest but I do use a piece of suede leather about the size of a hankie, with a tiny bit of padding sewn in. With this simple device I can downshift with almost zero pressure from my chin to the chinrest. With a little more padding I could do so even w.o. a chinrest. This material is very slip-resistant and has been around since the middle ages. There is no reason to suppose that I'm the first genius to think of doing something like this.

As far as position use, that varied a good deal. Corelli supposedly did not venture past the 3rd position. But a generation or so later, Locatelli went into fairly high positions - 7th or higher, probably to the very top of the fingerboard at that time. Check out his book of caprices, which were originally cadenzas collected from his concertos. Paganini admitted to being influenced by them.

OK, first rant before breakfast out of the way!

June 28, 2016 at 05:25 PM · Some Haydn quartets go up very high for first vln.

I have a sneaky feeling you might feel the same way as me Rafael, about HIP.

My own personal view about vibrato is that we need it a lot, and portamento when appropriate.

June 28, 2016 at 05:51 PM · Also worth pointing out Haydn has several written in portamenti in his quartets. Third movement of Op.33 no.2 for instance.

June 28, 2016 at 05:53 PM · OP.33 second movement I mean....

June 28, 2016 at 07:23 PM · Last movement of HAYDN Op 64 No. 4

Top B and top D into the frostbite region of E string. Wonderful quartet. First mvt is even harder but not quite so high ...

Add some port if you need it ...

June 29, 2016 at 03:10 AM · Very interesting re the Haydn indications!

I'd like to go back to some very basic considerations of this issue before continuing with specifics. I think it comes down to two basic questions:

1. What do and can we know about how certain music was played at a certain time?

2. What should we do about it?

Regarding question #1, we can do research till the cows come home, but we will never know quite how people sounded before the age of recording. That doesn't mean that research is futile; on the contrary, research can yield some very interesting facts, and now I'll go back to some specifics off the top of my head:

> As I said above, vibrato of one sort or another was in use on string instruments at least as far back as the 1500's

> Also as said above, pitch was quite irregular in the Baroque period - and sometimes HIGHER than today's 440 - especially in Venice.

> As with pitch, the bow was in a constant state of flux prior to Tourte; since Tourte, not so much. I wonder why.

> Bach was not only aware of the early pianos - he sold them! He was also possibly the first great composer to transcribe his and others composers' works for other instruments and to other keys. Bach on a modern violin and bow inauthentic? Any more so than Vivaldi's concerto for 4 violins in B minor transcribed by Bach for 4 harpsichords in A minor? Or Bach's own E major Partita prelude transcribed by Bach himself to the key of D for organ and orchestra? I don't think so.

> Bach, Handel and Mozart loved it when they would get the funding on special occasions to have large orchestras. Records show as many as 40 violins in the orchestra - more than the modern symphony orchestra!

The authenticists, period performers, historically (supposedly) informed folks - or what I like to call the 415 crowd has clearly got a lot of it wrong, and many admit that today. But let's suppose for argument's sake that they got most of it right. What if in the good(?) old days they mostly played with little if any vibrato, low pitch and lots of messa de voce in their bowing to where they collectively sounded like swarming mosquitoes? (In fact my pet name for some of these resurected HIP groups is 'the collegeum mosquitum'!) My 2nd question kicks in: what are we to do about it? Slavishly reproduce this sort of thing in mainstream venues? I don't think so. In a place like Colonial Williamsburg, fine. But I very much resent that HIP has all but hijacked so much of the repertoire and taken over like the Burmese pythons in South Florida. And it's done so with an air of self-righteousness that I find very grating. To try to live in the past as literally as you can in any other venue is called reactionary. Somehow in classical music it's politically correct to be reactionary - or selectively so. Shouldn't we apply the same principle to to authentically reproducing how Sarasate or Kreisler played their own music? And we do have recordings for that. But some (not all to be sure) of the same people who would find some of those slides (See? I got back to the original point!) mawkish and overly sentimental are all a-flutter over "authentic" Bach! This is really not authentic; it is an imposition of mid-20th to early 21st century sensibility.

It's interesting how mainstream Shakespeare productions think nothing of setting old plays in new garb. Even when going a more traditional route, very few are calling to bring back boys to play women's roles. Why not? After all, this is what the Bard's audience would have seen. Maybe they have more sense than some of us musicians do.

More to come. You've been warned!

June 29, 2016 at 06:15 AM · Keep it coming Rafael, it's very interesting! Your research and knowledge is excellent, although there will I'm sure be counter arguments.

I personally think going back to long past (i.e. 18C) styles of playing (which is guesswork) - is a mistake.

The fast music is (possibly?) OK, but HIP players have no sostenuto, in my opinion.

June 29, 2016 at 08:12 AM · The easiest way to get that authentic baroque sound is to remove the sound post, de-tune the strings, and don't bother to tighten or rosin the bow. It pays to play slightly flat, although slightly sharp is also permissible.

Be aware however, it will not sound authentic if played under electric lights. Gas lighting (although anachronistic) will do in a pinch, but otherwise candles are the only way to go. Pure beeswax is preferable.

The wearing of wigs is essential, as are ruffled sleeves. These effect the acoustic in the general vicinity of the instrument and, if this dress code is not followed, can create an artificial richness and fullness of tone that is not desired.

Cheers Carlo

June 29, 2016 at 09:12 AM · Returning to the topic of portamento a bit:

The "vocal style" in violin playing is itself an interesting question. Don't forget that there was never any one single "Baroque" across the whole of Europe.

So far as I can tell (and no I can't remember my sources), the Italian school was the first to approach solo violin playing in the same style as a solo singer. You can certainly see this at times in Corelli and Vivaldi. By mid-17th century this was becoming commonplace outside of Italy - Handel seems to do it - and then by late-century this is pretty much the _only_ way to play solo violin.

However, Corelli and Vivaldi are not Biber or Bach, nor are they Charpentier or Rameau. I've never seen (in historical sources, in modern analysis, or in the music itself) much hint that the German or French schools of baroque string playing took the voice as a model.

June 29, 2016 at 10:49 AM · Guys stop hating historical performance - it comes across as ignorant! I'm a baroque violinist, but love performances on modern violin/cello/piano if played well. The performer is much more important than the equipment which the performer is using. As to hijacking the repertoire, surely that's the fault of modern players. Modern violinists for instance rarely play baroque music which isn't Bach. Modern players must reclaim the repertoire - there is room for many interpretations and views.

June 29, 2016 at 11:18 AM · Carlo - if we didn't know you better we might think you cynical - but we know you have your tongue in cheek. It's too easy to upset the Historically Informed Performers (Make love the 17C way).

James - you have to accept that we like a joke here, and not just about viola players, whatever they are.

I have to admit I am biased as I like full blooded violin (and all string) playing. I find that music without vibrato sounds dead. But many people like the more cold sound in slow music, and hear it as transparent and more pure. But personally I like a vibrant sound.

June 29, 2016 at 11:46 AM · James - I wonder what details of my posts so far come across as ignorant? Strongly disagreeing, yes; resentful, that too. But from many of my own experiences, many people I've spoken and worked with who are respectful of the Period Performance movement are far less informed than I am - in fact, have done no research of their own but have just accepted some of the spookeries that still hover in the air, like playing w.o. vibrato.

One thing I will agree with James - mainstream performers have let it happen. They caved in, not unlike universities in the face of politically correct tidal waves. But again, the odd thing in certain strands of classical music is that reactionary-ism has somehow been what is politically correct!

BTW, besides Bach, I've performed Corelli, Locatelli, Vivaldi, Handel. Veracini, Leclair and Tartini. I began my recent recital with the latter's "The Devil's Trill" sonata - and I used a couple of well thought-out slides in it - so there! Tartini is an interesting case. He was one of those composers who began in the Baroque style and later consciously embraced the early classical style. There are a number of HIP-ers who tend to approach Mozart in a mainstream style. So how to approach Tartini? When playing his earlier music, play it in a period style but not so in his later music? Would Tartini have wanted that?

But enough ranting from me for now. I'd like to share with you someone else's ranting - coming soon to a thread near you!

June 29, 2016 at 11:51 AM · My main issue was this mad idea that people think baroque players 'own' the repertoire. Clearly this isn't the case with your own spread of composers you perform though :)

June 29, 2016 at 12:05 PM · PLEASE TRY TO FIND THIS!

https://artmusiclounge.wordpress.com/.../the-hip-movement-in-classical-.

June 29, 2016 at 12:07 PM · I don't think anyone owns the repertoire. I play Bach, Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi and others - but I would never claim to own it. I play it the way I think musically it sounds best, but others will perform the same pieces in different ways and styles. I think it is possible in another 100 years people may play 20C and 21C works in a totally different way performers now present them in the early 21st Century.

This is the way interpretation changes over years, and centuries. And tastes change. But I'm not sure the HIP can be so sure that 200 or more years ago, people played in a certain way. (Whereas they will know in 2099 how we played from recordings).

June 29, 2016 at 12:18 PM · Raphael - you're ranting. We get it, you're angry. You're angry about something no-one in this thread is actually advocating. Please be quiet and let an actual conversation happen.

June 29, 2016 at 12:43 PM · Raphael - that article you linked was interesting.

In fact one of the things I cannot stand with HIP performances is the way some string players play pear shaped notes, one after the other, which goes against the musical phrasing and used to be trained out of string players by good teachers. So I don't often hear HIPsters ever producing proper legato.

June 29, 2016 at 03:00 PM · I'd say playing pear shaped notes one after another isn't HIP, it's just bad playing.

June 29, 2016 at 04:01 PM · Chris, I have to say that of all the "rants" I read on these forums, I find Raphael's among the most compelling and insightful, so I dearly hope he will keep them coming.

All these discussions about vibrato and portamento in baroque music have parallels in the keyboard world, where folks agonize over scale temperament and the use of the sustain pedal. The whole idea that Bach should never be played on the piano is nothing but rubbish.

Here are a few idle thoughts:

Probably the only thing limiting the use of vibrato and portamento would have been frets -- on the lute, gamba, etc. One of the main reasons to remove the frets is to enable these expressive devices.

If it is true that vibrato and portamento were "out of style" at the same time that Bach was writing music, it could have been by sheer coincidence, not because those preferences were integral to baroque musical content.

We don't know how Bach would have responded to modern instruments. Maybe he would have really enjoyed the sound of a 2016 Chinese violin set up with Vision Solos, tuned to A=440, and paired with a Tourte-style carbon fiber bow, just as he might well have enjoyed the touch and sound of the modern Steinway (if perhaps not the Hammond B-3).

All of this reminds me why it is in some ways a blessing to be an amateur violinist. I can play Bach however I want. Now, if only I could actually play it, that would, of course, be even better.

June 29, 2016 at 05:37 PM · Really? Reactionary and PC at the same time? Hmmm... how's that work?

June 29, 2016 at 06:23 PM · "James Woodrow

· I'd say playing pear shaped notes one after another isn't HIP, it's just bad playing."

But just about every HIP player I've ever heard does this! (At least 90%)

So they must by your statement, all be BAD!

June 29, 2016 at 06:57 PM · Yes but.

Bach and Scarlatti (so different) sound great on the piano; Handel and Couperin on the harpsichord. I find Bach's sonatas & partitas make much better sense on baroque violin, even if I enjoy the recordings of Grumiaux, Heifetz, and Enescu. For the 'cello suites I prefer Yo-Yo Ma, who has captured much of the springy bounce of the best barockers while keeping a deep modern 'cello sound.

I have been much inspired by the gamba of Jordi Savall, totally HIP, and utterly romantic! On the violin just tune down a tone and rediscover what bowing is all about!

There are great players and mannered nonentities in both extremes.

June 30, 2016 at 12:54 AM · "We don't know how Bach would have responded to modern instruments."

It's quite likely he wouldn't respond at all since his parents would probably have him doped up on Ritalin.

Typical day at the 21st Century Bach household:

"Look papa I made another partita."

"That's nice Johann now take your pills and watch some tv."

June 30, 2016 at 12:42 PM · Here's a blast from the past. This thread has been pretty mild so far by comparison!

Baroque-ness in Bach performances

February 10, 2008 at 01:59 AM ·

June 30, 2016 at 12:55 PM · And this:

Everyone should get to study 'early' music with a 'late' violin and don't be fooled by the '5 Myths of Baroque String Playing'!

May 6, 2013 at 3:07 PM

And don't worry, everybody - or DO! - I'm probably not done with ranting - at least not on this subject! ;-)

June 30, 2016 at 01:33 PM · Raphael, your posts did not have the links. Here they are:

http://www.violinist.com/blog/Lizfield/20135/14630/

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?id=13212

And maybe I can toss one in too:

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=14600

June 30, 2016 at 04:57 PM · Thanks!

June 30, 2016 at 08:51 PM · @Raphael, yes he's got a 42, but I gotta 76 :) hihi

So, how but subjugating the technique to sound, and a bow which stored authentic sound could influence our technique?

hmm?

July 1, 2016 at 01:59 AM · @ Peter charles, wow your violin looks like a strad...... I mean a copy of it. looks great :)

July 1, 2016 at 08:40 AM · Thanks Krisztian

The photo on the avatar is rather distorted by the site, it is not a s fat as it looks. Actually, it's a copy of a del Jesu and made in 1995 by Ricardo Bergonzi.

July 1, 2016 at 10:18 AM · wow, Your're so lucky :)

July 1, 2016 at 11:21 AM · I did NOT write the following article. It was written by a choral conductor and viola de gamba player. It was written back in 1990. Advocates of Period Performance may say that I haven't kept up with the movement. But I contend that the movement has kept up with me: Every time I listen to the radio and something from the Baroque era comes on, played (as it is about 90% of the time) by one or another of the early music groups, it does not take me more than 1 or 2 measures to remind me what I - and the write of this article - don't like about it and I feel that the points to follow are basically still current.

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COLLECTIONS>EARLY MUSIC

The Spin Doctors of Early Music

By RICHARD TARUSKIN; Richard Taruskin has performed early music as a choral conductor and viola da gamba soloist. This article originated with remarks at a symposium during the Berkeley Festival 'Music in History' in June

Published: July 29, 1990

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What does early music have to do with history? In theory, everything. In fact, very little. At the beginning, the movement was frankly antiquarian - a matter of reviving forgotten repertories and, with them, forgotten instruments and performing practices. Nobody objected to that, nor did most musicians even pay much attention to it. Now, it seems, Early Musickers are performing almost everything. They have laid claim to the standard repertory, and attention must be paid. More than that, sides are taken - the movement in its present phase has become controversial.

But on closer inspection, it becomes ever more apparent that 'historical' performers who aim 'to get to 'the truth' ' (as the fortepianist Malcolm Bilson has put it) by using period instruments and reviving lost playing techniques actually pick and choose from history's wares. And they do so in a manner that says more about the values of the late 20th century than about those of any earlier era.

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Whatever the movement's aims or claims, absolutely no one performs pre-20th-century music as it would have been performed when new. This may be so easily verified that it is a wonder anyone still believes the contrary. Here are some examples:

* Frans Bruggen, appearing with his Orchestra of the 18th Century at Zellerbach Hall on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, tells the audience during an intermission feature at the open dress rehearsal that the purpose of his enterprise is 'to be obedient to the composer.' He then conducts a performance of Beethoven's 'Eroica' Symphony in which the composer's meticulously indicated tempos are all ignored.

* Roger Norrington launches a meteoric career as 'historical' performer of the standard classical repertory with a cycle of Beethoven symphonies on CD in which the composer's metronome indications are not only (pretty much) followed, but also emblazoned on the containers in an act of pious bravado. Having set the tempos, however, the conductor adheres to them with dogged rigidity, contradicting every eye-witness report we have of Beethoven's own conducting, as well as the explicit instructions of 18th-century conducting manuals.

* Mr. Bilson and John Eliot Gardiner (the latter conducting the English Baroque Soloists) complete the first recorded cycle of Mozart piano concertos on 'original instruments,' representing the pieces in their true colors at last. But the notes they play, for the most part, are just the ones Mozart wrote. They do not add all the extra notes Mozart's audiences actually heard.

These performers and others like them can be counted on to flout historical evidence whenever it does not conform to their idea of 'the truth.' They do it knowingly. In fact, because they are so much more historically aware than conventionally trained musicians tend to be, they flout historical evidence more knowingly than do their 'modern' counterparts. With the growing success of Early Music, we are increasingly surrounded by unhistorical sounds masquerading as historical - or 'authentic,' to use a word that more sophisticated performers now shun but that musical salesmen and spin doctors still spout to seduce the unwary consumer.

Some of these unhistorical sounds are really central to the concept of historical performance. Take the 'contertenor' (male falsetto) voice. It is the very emblem of Early Music. No Baroque opera revival can get by without it. All the best historical vocal groups sport it, whether they sing Renaissance madrigals (the Consort of Musicke), the music of the pre-Reformation and Counter-Reformation Roman Catholic Church (the Hilliard Ensemble, the Tallis Scholars) or late medieval polyphony (the Gothic Voices).

Unhistorical Sounds

A Vocal Model Born In English Choirs

There is no evidence that falsettists participated in any of these repertories when they were current. The voice was born in the English cathedral choir, and owes its modern currency to the success of Alfred Deller, an outstanding English cathedral alto, as pioneering protagonist of the modern Early Music revival in its antiquarian phase. It is no accident, then, that all of the vocal groups listed above are English, for they have founded their performing styles, as Deller did, on their own distinguished national traditions. Their excellence has bred emulation, establishing the English cathedral style as an international sonic norm for Early Music, and the model on which Early Music vocal production in all ranges is based.

The best one can do to justify the current vogue for countertenors in historical terms would be to say that, thanks to Deller's example, we now like to hear our Palestrina sung as it might have been sung by an Anglican choir in the 16th century. But in the 16th century no Anglican choir would have dreamed of singing Palestrina's music if they valued their lives.

There can be no historical justification at all for using an English cathedral voice in a Handel opera. Handel, who must have known what the falsettists of his adopted country sounded like, never wrote for them; when (like us) he couldn't get a castrato for an opera performance, he happily dressed a woman in trousers and plumed helmet. Handel's women, we can be reasonably sure, sounded nothing like Alfred Deller. We can use women, too, of course, and sometimes do, but unless the woman is Marilyn Horne, we seem to prefer countertenors, demonstrably unhistorical though they be.

A Higher Authenticity

Early Music Is The Sound of Now

So is Early Music just a hoax? Are the Bruggens and Bilsons deceiving us, or themselves? Is 'authentic' performance as inauthentic as all that?

Not at all. It is authentic indeed, far more authentic than its practitioners contend, perhaps more authentic than they know. Nothing said above about Messrs. Bruggen, Norrington and Bilson or the rest should be taken in itself as criticism of the results they have obtained. They have been rightly acclaimed. Their commercial success is well deserved. Conventional performers are properly in awe and in fear of them. Why? Because, as we are all secretly aware, what we call historical performance is the sound of now, not then. It derives its authenticity not from its historical verisimilitude, but from its being for better or worse a true mirror of late-20th-century taste.

Being the true voice of one's time is (as Shaw might have said) roughly 40,000 times as vital and important as being the assumed voice of history. To be the expressive medium of one's own age is - obviously, no? - a far worthier aim than historical verisimilitude. What is verisimilitude, after all, but correctness? And correctness is the paltriest of virtues. It is something to demand of students, not artists.

So why the confusion? Why do we make a pretense of historical performance when we're really creating something better? These questions are so bound up with the nature of late-20th-century taste that it would be better to postpone an answer till we've explored that taste a bit.

Without attempting an exhaustive inventory, one can suggest a few interrelated characteristics that exemplify current taste in the performance of classical music (and its composition, too, but that's a story for another day):

* It is text-centered, hence literalistic.

* It is impersonal, hence unfriendly to spontaneity.

* It is lightweight, hence leery of the profound or the sublime.

None of these traits began with Early Music, but Early Music has brought them all to a peak. Literalism is as old as Toscanini, who exhorted one and all to play what was set before them exactly as written ('com'e scritto'), regardless of 'tradition.' Impersonalism is as old as Stravinsky, who railed against 'interpretation,' and wanted his performers to be - just as Mr. Bruggen proclaimed himself - obedient 'executants' of his will. Lightness is as old as Satie, inveterate debunker of artistic pretension in the name of mental health.

The Underlying Biases

Antiromantic . . . Or Anti-Teutonic?

Taken together, the three positions are conventionally labeled antiromantic, though a closer look will reveal the ironic links binding at least the first two with the romantic enthronement of the autocratic and infallible composer-creator, divorced from real-time music making. (There you have the real roots of 'modern' - that is, Early - performance practice.) What the three positions - enunciated by an Italian, a Russian and a Frenchman in turn - also (and unquestionably) share is an anti-Teutonic bias. The style of performance they collectively describe has been a contender since the 1920's, dominant since the 1930's, virtually the only one since the 1940's and - as revamped and re-outfitted with a new instrumentarium - the one called 'historical' (or 'authentic') since the 1960's. Early Music is no earlier than that.

The text-centricity of Early Music is self-evident, and so is its literalism. That is what Early Musickers usually mean when they speak of fidelity to the composer's intentions. Pushed to a new level, it has brought us Mr. Bilson's Mozart, refreshingly re-articulated in conformity with a newly cleansed text; and it has brought us Mr. Norrington's Beethoven, radically re-imagined so as to make those metronome settings work. (And they do!) Less obvious (indeed, expediently denied) is the corollary, hostility to unwritten performance tradition, which accounts for not only Mr. Bilson's, but practically everyone's, reluctance to embellish the bare notes of the scores they execute. So even - nay, especially - in the most 'obedient' Early Music performances of Mozart's piano concertos, the slow movements (and not only the slow movements) are fairly denuded of the raiment Mozart expected them to flaunt. The result is a kind of performance Mozart would have completely failed to understand - or to respect. So much for his intentions.

The impersonalism of Early Music has resulted in performances of unprecedented formal clarity and precision. It has also resulted in a newly militant reluctance to make the subtle, constant adjustments of tempo and dynamics on which expressivity depends, for these can have no sanction but personal feeling. That is why Mr. Norrington's tempos, though set in unprecedented conformity with Beethoven's prescriptions, are completely un-Beethovenian past the first measure, when Beethoven assumed that what he called the 'tempo of feeling' would take over. It is an assumption the 20th century (and only the 20th century) has refused to make, and Beethoven would have listened to Mr. Norrington's renditions with utter discomfort and bewilderment.

The lightness of Early Music inheres in its very sounds - the period instruments, the countertenor voices, the small forces. For the high value placed on small forces there is no historical evidence, but there is a distinguished 20th-century ('Neo-Classical') literature for chamber orchestra, to which the Classical literature now conforms. The same ideal has recently been responsible for the resolute trivialization of some notable monuments of Germanic profundity, like the B minor Mass and the Choral Symphony.

We can't stand the sublime anymore, perhaps with good reason. (We know something the 19th century didn't know: namely, where Wagner led.) Do we need a fence around our good taste, not to say our moral purity? Then no German is above suspicion, not even Bach or Beethoven. If we are unwilling to give up their masterworks altogether, Early Music can render them handily innocuous. That may be a valid and necessary cultural critique, but it is not history.

Origin of the Style

Soft Evidence, Firm Desiderata

Relics of the performance tradition to which all of this is a reaction are still available to today's ears in recordings by Willem Mengelberg, Artur Nikisch, Karl Muck, Wilhelm Furtwangler and many others (including composers like Hans Pfitzner and Richard Strauss). They are instantly recognizable as premodern (and of course, echt-Teutonic). To hear them is to realize how far we've traveled from that phase of history. They show how fundamentally akin to standard modern performance practices are those that claim to be historical. The old recordings utterly debunk that pharisaical claim; for recordings are the hardest evidence of performance practice imaginable.

If we truly wanted to perform historically, we would begin by imitating early-20th-century recordings of late-19th-century music and extrapolate back from there. Instead, as already implied, Early Music has been moving in the opposite direction. The pioneers extrapolated - from very soft evidence bolstered by very firm desiderata - a style of performing Renaissance and Baroque music, and from then on it has been a matter of speculative forward encroachment.

Even now, with the leading edge of the movement breaking into the mid-19th century, these old recordings are not being utilized except on the antiquarian fringe. Why? Because to our modern taste they sound like caricatures. Nobody takes them seriously, least of all the Early Musickers. (Listen sometime to the single-sided acoustical 78 of Mischa Elman's quartet playing Tchaikovsky, circa 1914, and see if you can keep a straight face at their authentic scoops and slides, transmitted to Elman directly from his teacher Leopold Auer, for whom Tchaikovsky wrote his violin concerto.) We have our own tastes, our own ways and our own agenda. In case of conflict, they inevitably override the historical evidence. Which of course is how it should be - must be - if we have any sort of stake in our own culture. To take the opposite tack would be a profession of apathy.

A 'Classical' Pretense

Getting Rid Of Woo-Woo

So forget history. What Early Music has been doing is busily remaking the music of the past in the image of the present (necessary because we unfortunately have so little use for the actual music of the present), only calling the present by some other name.

Roger Norrington had just conducted a very jolly and spiffy performance of 'Messiah' when we met in San Francisco a couple of Christmases ago. He was in an expansive mood. He began describing his latest forays into Romantic terrain and his plans for the future, which included Verdi.

'You'd be amazed how Classical Verdi really is,' he said. 'We're going to do him completely without this, you know' - here he screwed up his mouth into a caricature of an opera singer's, and emitted a tremulous woo-woo - 'and it will be a revelation.'

Hmm, I thought, Mr. Norrington is going to get all the way to the 20th century without any woo-woo, and yet we know that somewhere along the line woo-woo existed. But more power to the man. If woo-woo is of no interest to him, he has every right to can it. And we have every right to love the result, as many of us do. Mozart's disdain and Beethoven's discomfort need not deter us. They are dead.

What is of interest, as I have suggested, is why we need the pretense - why Mr. Norrington needs to call his Verdi Classical instead of modern. It is because in the absence of a vital creative impulse classical music has become a chill museum. (The vitality, alas, is with other forms of music, in which performers behave very differently.) Our classical performers are the curators of their heritage, not its proprietors. They are sworn to preserve it and trained to be uncreative. So if you are creative, you have to hide the fact. You have to come on (to yourself as well as others) as a better curator, not a revamper.

Early Music has been the best curatorial credential of all, which is why it has never been as creative a movement as 'historically' it ought to be. (Curators don't embellish or arrange, thank you, let alone improvise over a ground bass.) A violinist using a period bow can claim to be a better curator than one who does not, and one using a whole period violin is the best curator of all. A Roger Norrington remaking Verdi will seem a better curator if he calls his creation Classical rather than modern.

And here I must drop my dispassionate mask and deplore our afflicted cultural ecology, in which (as Randolph Coleman of Oberlin College has recently written) 'the exorcising of homo ludens (man at play) forms the initial stage of our musical pedagogy.' Mr. Coleman continues, 'Repetition, standardization, virtuosity, accuracy, perfection, and professionalization (with its emphasis on patterns of conformity) are the terms of our teaching - not experimentation, idiosyncrasy, interaction, individuation, and especially not open-ended creative play.' Mr. Coleman is talking about elite classical-music training, of course, not the less lordly branches of our musical life, which have retained far more creativity.

Early Music, were it more truly 'historical,' might have formed a saving exception to this pattern; up to Mozart's time, at least, musical values were generally closer to those of what we now call pop than to those of our classical culture. But to ask that of Early Music may be asking the impossible. It is a product of the classical value system, after all, and its beneficiary. It cannot be expected to rebel. On the contrary, it has measurably advanced the perfectionist standards of its parent culture, pleasantly augmented its inventory of timbres and become perhaps the least moribund aspect of our classical musical life. That is accomplishment enough.

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July 1, 2016 at 11:48 AM · The following is something I DID write - the last entry of an old thread about how Strad. may have tuned his plates. This moved on to issues of pitch in the Baroque era and a lively debate ensued:

From Raphael Klayman

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

As we bring this thread to a close, a few thoughts of summation come to mind.

1. When thinking about classic instruments and pitch it's pretty inevitable that ideas about period performance should arise. I tried to limit myself on this thread in this regard, as I've commented extensively on the subject in the past. But here are just a few points aside from pitch issues that may come as a surprise to some, based on my own research:

a. Many early music proponents believe in limiting or even eliminating vibrato. There are actually references to vibrato in string playing as far back as the 1500's. I'm not saying that it is the same vibrato that Wieniawski or Kreisler started to popularize. But unless we find recordings from that era, we'll just never know exactly what they sounded like. Simple good taste suggests that even in some passages in Brahms and Sibelius it is a good idea to limit vibrato, and there are many shades and nuances to choose from. It's not a simple yes or no proposition. There have always been those who favored more or less vibrato usage, but it has been around for centuries. Leopold Mozart, writing a treatise about violin playing in 1756 - the year his soon-to-be famous son, Wolfgang was born, and just 6 years after Bach died, said that there are players who vibrate so much and so constantly, you'd think they had a palsy!

b. We associate 18th cent. orchestras with small numbers. Yet composers from Handel to Mozart were thrilled to use very large groups when they were given the resources to do so. These numbers sometimes exceeded modern symphony orchestras, with as many as 40 violins!

c. Bach particularly was happy to transcribe Vivaldi's music and his own from one medium and one key to another. That should make one think about how important it is or is not to keep to what we think may have been the original medium and pitch. Bach was actually not only aware of the early fortepianos, but sold some! So much for it being a sin to play Bach on the piano. (And I happen to like the harpsichord.)

d. Here is a kind of paradox: the very idea of trying to being as true as possible to the practices and presumed intentions of much earlier eras would have been a foreign concept in the 18th century. This is actually a concern of mid-20th to early 21st cent. thinking. Whether we think of it as an improvement or not, think how freely Mozart added clarinets to the score of Handel's Messiah. And how authentic is it to hear early music on any sort of recordings? What about the audience for this music? Most of us wouldn't qualify for admission, and those who would, might - if they acted authentically - behave with what we would consider to be awful decorum today. Where do we draw the line in authenticity? I mean, that's what they experienced. Who is to say they didn't like it that way? Sitting quietly? Not eating? Who do these performers think they are, who are little better than kitchen help to the aristocracy? The period people make many convenient compromises. But I don't think that they are too open about it.

e. Having a certain medium - eg a violin with what we'd call now an early set up, and a Baroque or transitional bow - and believing that this is the best of all possible media which should always be used for this music are very different things. Again, Bach was open to the early piano.

f. When all is said and done I really, really dislike the kind of sounds that I hear from early music groups such the Concentcus Musicus and the English Concert - though even the latter use some vibrato. Particularly the exaggerated, whiny 'messa de voce' sounds just awful to me. What is even worse is that some conductors such as Christopher Hogwood, have carried some of this sort of phrasing even into Schumann! On the other hand, I will concede that some soloists that I've heard, such as Simon Standage at least bring a lot of verve to their playing, whereas so many groups that I hear on the radio sound like tired squeeze boxes. As to chamber groups for Baroque music, I'll take The Virtuosi di Roma, Il Musici, the English Chamber Orchestra and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields any day.

g. I think it's a terrible trend that modern players seem to have been made to feel defensive against the highly debatable practices and recommendations of what I feel in some cases should be considered fringe groups at best, who'd fit in most appropriately playing in places like Colonial Williamsburg. Should, be, but are not. I'm reminded of those Burmese Pythons in South Florida who are all but destroying that area's ecology. Even if they've got it right - and I don't believe they have - we are living today, have heard all the music composed since then, have lived through all the changes good or bad in technology, medicine, society, etc. Going to such extreme lengths to recapture the media and supposedly some of the phrasings, sounds very artificial and often leaves the essence of great music behind.

Somehow, period performance has taken on the aura of political correctness. But think about it - what could be more reactionary and fundamentalist? When it comes to Shakespeare, no one bats an eye when it is re-interpreted again and again - often in modern dress. From the reading I've done, older styles of acting would seem laughable to us today. But imagine a sizable and ever more influential minority trying to get back to that style and insisting that Shakespeare only be performed at the Globe Theater, with boys playing the female roles, etc. etc. After all, that's what Shakespeare and his contemporaries experienced.

Well, I don't think so. It is not period Bach but Bach, period, that hopefully will prevail.

2. A little closer to this thread. The amazing thing to me is how well the best and healthiest of the classic instruments continue to sound so well, whatever pitch Strad used, and through changes in necks, bass bars, bridges - and even sometimes surviving re-graduation! It's remarkable how well some of these instruments still meet today's needs and sound so glorious in Romantic and modern music. Beethoven, commenting on his late quartets to someone who confessed to not understanding them, said "Oh, they're not for you; they're for a future generation." I don't think that Strad and del Gesu thought liked that. But how lucky for us that it worked out that way!

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July 1, 2016 at 12:16 PM · wow :)

July 1, 2016 at 01:27 PM · Thanks for that Taruskin article, Raphael. Very informative and articulated many incoherent thoughts churning in my head. But, aside from hating HIP performances, and those more sanctimonious HIP performers (presumably Taruskin is not on your hate list,) what is your point exactly? It seems to me you are the reactionary in present context.

July 2, 2016 at 12:08 AM · Hi,

What disturbs me about Raphael's posts is that he links portamento -- the question of this post -- with other subjects of HIP (pitch level, vibrato), which is not very helpful.

(As an aside, I also have personal issues with A415 and would be happy if everyone play in 440 nowdays for programming flexibility. And nowadays often in recording and concerts people do 392 for Rameau, 466 for Vivaldi, or whatever. Regarding vibrato, it is mentioned in treatises in many occasions (e.g. Geminiani), and often times linked to messa di voce. Every baroque string player I know uses vibrato, just as a ornament and not a technique for projecting sound...hope this clears the air a little.)

I am just a player and not a scholar, but a simple google search on "Leopold Mozart slides" and got this:

"Leopold Mozart's instructions on fingerings for position changing seem mostly concerned with avoiding audible slides. In a few cases position changes occur within slurs that, if a true legato were maintained, would inevitably result in audible shifts, but it seems clear that none of these are intended to be ornamental."

If anything the more interesting question would be portamento in Romantic era, I have a feeling we probably didn't do as much as they did. Brahms and Joachim had very interesting correspondances on that. But the kind of 19th/20 century ideal of portamento mentioned in baroque era treatises...I'm really hardpressed to think of one of the top of my head.

Greetings!

Dorian

(https://books.google.it/books?id=2z7sn7y89PoC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=leopold+mozart+on+slides&source=bl&ots=ssPaKSFMPp&sig=L_cFdJH2M9XFAsXlv438T9HmQS8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjw9sWquNPNAhXCzRoKHSkVDXwQ6AEILDAC#v=onepage&q=leopold%20mozart%20on%20slides&f=false)

July 2, 2016 at 03:22 AM · Agreed Dorian. What disturbs me is the blanket grouping and judgment of what is clearly a diverse group of people with diverse views and approaches, not to mention blaming them for 'making' him feel defensive and for 'destroying... [the] ecology' by which I suppose he means mainstream styles and the living afforded it's proponents. So reactionary. But I guess it's a sign of the times...

July 2, 2016 at 04:34 AM · Some food for thought:

I use vibrato scarcely, mainly because I learn jazz, and jazz violin should copy the texture of wind instruments (at least one reason).

What if early ornamentaions copied other instruments like viola de Gamba? :)

July 2, 2016 at 11:24 AM · The gamba is fretted so portamento must use a lightened finger, which is best for the violin family too, anyway. Vibrato on the gamba can involve another finger just in front of the fret: a sort of wobbled trill, beloved of gipsy fiddlers.

I enjoy trying non-vib playing, which necessitates varied and subtle bowing. And slacker strings (baroque rather than jazz?) give wonderful sparkle to détaché bowing, and a wider range of colours in legato. Non-vib on tighter strings has a more horn-like quality, bettr for jazz IMO.

July 2, 2016 at 11:30 AM · @Dorian

"Every baroque string player I know uses vibrato, just as a ornament and not a technique for projecting sound...hope this clears the air a little."

That is not my experience. And vibrato can be, and is used NOT as an ornament, but to help in projecting a vivid vibrant sound.

@ Adrian "I enjoy trying non-vib playing, which necessitates varied and subtle bowing. "

You say then that USING vibrato does NOT necessitate varied and subtle bowing?!

July 2, 2016 at 01:14 PM · Hi Peter,

I probably could had worded it better -- all the baroque players I have seen also use subtle vibrato for tone -- but secondary to the bow. I.e. they all strive to make their shapes and phrases with their bow first, and then vibrato as extra layer of beauty for sound in addition.

I think what distinguishes staunchly "old-school" modern players and more nuanced HIP players to my ears is the former's employing vibrato to spin out and project sound to carry over large concert space as primary objective, to sing out every note and carry a line, etc, and senza vib as an expressive device, etc...

While the early music folks I have encountered (Rachel Podger, Sigiswald Kuijken, Tafelmusik folks, Juilliard HP program folks, etc) use vibrato as an expressive device, to aid the swelling of a note, to make certain notes more beautiful in the context of harmony, meter hierarchy, not all notes are created equal, etc...

And they would not hesitate to say, I think, that vibrato also opens up tense hand muscles and make a more vibrant sound. Their playing and teaching shows a more judicious use, starting from a base line of making rhetorical shapes with their bows and then adding vibrato, instead of a bad modern player's approach of vibrating everything and then taking away vibrato.

But alas, I am also a perpetrator of my own criticism -- this thread is about portamento, not vibrato!

I am currently away from home but if someone has access to Clive Brown's Performance Practice in 18th century, I'm sure there's a big fat, erudite chapter on portamento.

Best,

Dorian

July 2, 2016 at 01:20 PM · Hi Peter,

I probably could had worded it better -- all the baroque players I have seen also use subtle vibrato for tone -- but secondary to the bow. I.e. they all strive to make their shapes and phrases with their bow first, and then vibrato as extra layer of beauty for sound in addition.

I think what distinguishes staunchly "old-school" modern players and more nuanced HIP players to my ears is the former's employing vibrato to spin out and project sound to carry over large concert space as primary objective, to sing out every note and carry a line, etc, and senza vib as an expressive device, etc...

While the early music folks I have encountered (Rachel Podger, Sigiswald Kuijken, Tafelmusik folks, Juilliard HP program folks, etc) use vibrato as an expressive device, to aid the swelling of a note, to make certain notes more beautiful in the context of harmony, meter hierarchy, not all notes are created equal, etc...

And they would not hesitate to say, I think, that vibrato also opens up tense hand muscles and make a more vibrant sound. Their playing and teaching shows a more judicious use, starting from a base line of making rhetorical shapes with their bows and then adding vibrato, instead of a bad modern player's approach of vibrating everything and then taking away vibrato.

But alas, I am also a perpetrator of my own criticism -- this thread is about portamento, not vibrato!

I am currently away from home but if someone has access to Clive Brown's Performance Practice in 18th century, I'm sure there's a big fat, erudite chapter on portamento.

Best,

Dorian

July 2, 2016 at 01:30 PM · @Dorian

"I think what distinguishes staunchly "old-school" modern players and more nuanced HIP players to my ears is the former's employing vibrato to spin out and project sound to carry over large concert space as primary objective, to sing out every note and carry a line, etc, and senza vib as an expressive device, etc...

While the early music folks I have encountered (Rachel Podger, Sigiswald Kuijken, Tafelmusik folks, Juilliard HP program folks, etc) use vibrato as an expressive device, to aid the swelling of a note, to make certain notes more beautiful in the context of harmony, meter hierarchy, not all notes are created equal, etc..."

My own judgement is that many "old school" players actually use all these devices to perform creatively, and the best of them avoid dead notes without vibrato. Again in my opinion NOT using vibrato is NOT "an expressive device." (It is a dead note which loses all it's richness and should be buried in the graveyard).

July 2, 2016 at 01:36 PM · Peter you're ight again, I should have put that non-vib requiresv even more varied and subtle bowing, as Dorian has so clearly pointed out. Todays HIPsters certainly do not favour "dead" notes, (even if the perpetual "bulging" is mightily irritating.)

July 2, 2016 at 02:06 PM · @Adrian/Dorian

I have to say that Dorian gave an example of Rachael Podger - and I've just listened to her playing Bach concerto last mvt A minor as well as some other solo things. In the concerto (in a reverberant acoustic i.e. a church) there were so many rasping open E's with pear shaped notes. In the solo stuff it was all non vib and dead as a dormouse (and to my ear not in tune either). So I'm really saying that I can't enjoy that sort of thing, but if others love it, that's fine. I will stick to the awful (as many HIPsters see it) modern players who include the ones from the early part of the 20C such as Elman, Heifetz, Milstein, and many others, as well as the outstanding younger generation.

In fact I will shock you all and say that the best recording I've heard of the Bach concertos was made in the 1950's by a certain Mr Heifetz. In my opinion (only) no one else has come close.

July 2, 2016 at 04:36 PM · I think someone's been called out as a starchy (sic) old-school player. Tee hee.

My childhood teacher taught me that vibrato is "part of your tone." This teacher adored Kreisler and Heifetz and especially Elman, and he encouraged his students to apply high levels of schmaltz. The first three notes of the Bach E Major Concerto (the E major triad) would definitely be played with vibrato in his world-view.

July 2, 2016 at 06:21 PM · Raphael, you don't mention Purcell, especially the G-minor, one of the most emotionally intense works in the entire repertoire. Have you dismissed him or have you just not discovered him?

July 2, 2016 at 06:24 PM · @Paul

"My childhood teacher taught me that vibrato is "part of your tone." This teacher adored Kreisler and Heifetz and especially Elman, and he encouraged his students to apply high levels of schmaltz. The first three notes of the Bach E Major Concerto (the E major triad) would definitely be played with vibrato in his world-view."

Quite right too! He/she was obviously on the rights tracks!

July 2, 2016 at 06:27 PM · Purcell!! Whose he? Is that the one that washes whiter? (Persil - the soap powder ...)

I'm not up on Purcell either, and I'm English. I do love Ben Britten though - and he I think, liked Purcell, so maybe there is something in this.

July 2, 2016 at 09:21 PM · Peter. Yep, and guess how I play it. :)

Purcell is music that is played on an incredibly tiny little trumpet that looks like a toy.

July 3, 2016 at 05:27 AM · Dorian, I think You should ask Buri about this, since he has a depth of musical understanding, while he may not have the technical width as of a professional player.

I tink vibrato is excluded from jazz context for multiple reasons (while it is used, yes, but more less frequently) another is because of the extensive use of harmonic and melodic intertwinings. That is, expressive intonation as one would say. Learning to put your finger in a different place at a different sonata might yield this effect, but to improvise from an idea, and also to subconsciously use those notes in a different context is inevitable :) best

July 3, 2016 at 06:24 AM ·

July 3, 2016 at 03:52 PM · My teacher as of up to a couple of years ago plays violin in a long-established 4-piece folk band comprising violin, piano accordion, acoustic guitar, and mandolin. Sometimes the guitarist plays cello, and the violinist the viola. The music they play is all composed or arranged by the band and is based largely on English North Country folk tunes, with a sprinkling from other British sources and continental Europe.

The point is that the violinist does not use vibrato in the band because a vibrato would interfere with the tonal balance and highlight the violin to the detriment of the overall sound. The other instruments of course do not or cannot use vibrato to any significant extent. Outside of the band my teacher has an arm vibrato to die for.

July 3, 2016 at 05:34 PM · Hey folks,

Vibrato is a fascinating and also heated topic of debate even among early music people, and I would love to dig in more. But for coherence and clarity's sake and respect for the OP, let's stick to the topic which is portamento in Baroque -- because I would love to learn about that too if someone has any new insight!

July 3, 2016 at 05:40 PM · Vibrato is a fascinating and also heated topic of debate even among early music people, and I would love to dig in more. But for coherence and clarity's sake and respect for the OP, let's stick to the topic which is portamento in Baroque -- because I would love to learn about that too if someone has any new insight!

I think myself that portamento in Baroque is perfectly fine and acceptable, BUT I do wonder if using it WITHOUT vibrato means it kind of dies a death and is not very effective. Usually a portamento is used to highlight a note to which we are moving to but if the sound is dead then the effect is lost. Anyone agree?

July 3, 2016 at 06:36 PM · A note with no vibrato is not dead if we know how to vary the tone with the bow; not the tiresome "bulge" of so many HIPsters, but the more subtle graduation of finer folk fiddlers.

July 3, 2016 at 09:12 PM · A note with no vibrato is not dead if we know how to vary the tone with the bow; not the tiresome "bulge" of so many HIPsters, but the more subtle graduation of finer folk fiddlers.

I'm not really very knowledgeable regarding folk fiddlers, so I can't comment on their abilities when it comes to bowing.

But I think we may disagree on this point as I find that a heightened note after a portamento does sound dead with no vibrato. A lot of very fine players (Zukerman, Ricci and others) do comment on this in their masterclasses and books.

I was having a little disbelief with Ricci's book when he suggested playing a fast passage slowly with lots of vibrato, and a slow passage without vibrato. But this was for practice purposes only, and when I tried it I was converted. (At least somewhat).

One way of testing how vibrato makes a note ring on is to play separate ultra short notes on the lower strings very loudly and with lots of vibrato the note rings on. Without vibrato it has no extra ring. Same with pizzicato - the notes ring on with vibrato, but are dead without.

July 5, 2016 at 04:13 PM · Peter, I find one clue to good non-vib playing is lower-tension strings, which ring in a way which is "killed" by vibrato when no frequency sounds long enough to resonate naturally.

And to get back to portamento (!!!) apart from jazzy "scoops", sliding is both less obtrusive and more expressive if we slide without pressing down to the fingerboard.

July 5, 2016 at 07:14 PM · Hi Adrian

I'm out of all discussions from now on, at least for a while. Nothing to do with this thread, but I feel I need a rest, to secure my sanity. (Mind you, I am totally mad. Well I must have been to work in orchestras ...)

July 6, 2016 at 11:32 AM · In the ABRSM book "A Performer's Guide to Music of the Baroque Period", Chapter 4 by Andrew Manze covers stringed instruments, mainly the violin, its history and baroque performance. I found no mention of portamento, but vibrato was discussed.

The content of Chapter 4 is usefully summarised by Manze in his final paragraph:

"If playing Baroque music sometimes seems rule-bound, take heart from the fact that the words 'free', 'freedom' and 'flexibility' occur far more often in this chapter than 'rule'. Listeners will be happier to hear your own ideas about how to play a piece than a way learnt from a book."

July 7, 2016 at 11:41 PM · "Listeners will be happier to hear your own ideas about how to play a piece than a way learnt from a book."

Well, one important and emphasized aspect of music education in the Budapest conservatory is emotional education. Like reading books such as Flaubert in high school, one of the negatives about great (as of interpolating) early performances, and I mean like 10 year olds playing too nice, is that they often criticised that they lack grown up emotions towards a partner.

"How can she play so nice when she does not even had a boyfriend??"

Yes, pain from almost losing someone is definitely an emotion that can be "used" for instance I think exactly some parts of Sibelius, and lots of Mozart. Is it? :)))))))))))))

July 8, 2016 at 10:16 AM · Since my previous post I have found on YouTube Andrew Manze's solo performance of Tartini's "Devil's Trill" Sonata. In it he is clearly following his own advice.

The YouTube link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=codgEyXS5NA. It is unusual in that the person who uploaded the music has, for unknown reasons, inserted extraordinarily lengthy silences between the tracks, totalling a few minutes over the length of the audio file. However, this can easily be remedied by streaming or downloading the YT file into an audio editor, for one's personal study of course.

July 8, 2016 at 03:44 PM · Krisztian, listen to Jordi Savall's viola da gamba: expressionist HIP playing.

July 9, 2016 at 02:49 AM · Personally I don't think a person needs to have endured suffering to project emotion in their violin playing. I know a boy who's 12, who has enjoyed what can only be described as a fortunate and perhaps even a somewhat sheltered childhood, and his playing shows tremendous depth and sensitivity. He just gets it.

July 9, 2016 at 08:43 AM · Hi Adrian, who's viola da gamba????? ;-) cheers

July 9, 2016 at 01:53 PM · He's a committed gambler ... Viola!!

July 9, 2016 at 10:34 PM · I'm back from a hiatus with a couple of new tidbits:

"Carlo Farina's 1627 Capriccio Stravagante uses four violin-family ...... col legno, sul ponticello, and even glissando in the interests of depicting barking."

Notice "1627" (- that's almost 60 years before Bach was even born! -) and "glissando". "Glissando" might be a better word to use for research purposes since in some contexts I've seen "portamneto" used as a variant of portato - a bow articulation.

Also, in the excellent book, "Performance Practices of the 17th and 18th Centuries" by Frederick Neumann, there's a brief debate in a footnote about reference to glissando made on a viola da gamba. That's a da gamba - a predecessor of the violin and a fretted instrument to boot! The debate was not on whether the gamba did or could use glissando but whether a specific text in question was referring to it.

July 9, 2016 at 10:42 PM · It was referring to. Well, it's kind of typical, I mean I would not play heavy bows in Sarasate. Well, I mean phrasing up your text might more easily facilitate rehearsal of the reproduction of he original (or referred to) idea.

That said, it's not clear (hehe), well, whether the year the book was published is referring to the same conversation.

cheers :)

July 9, 2016 at 11:42 PM · I kept in mind the glissandos, and perhaps, and this is just a theory, it just does not match, but an up glissando and theeen (hehe), going back to the original position to play the original note with the same finger is perhaps a proto-gamak, or mini-raga ;-)

July 10, 2016 at 08:44 AM · Well, it's kind of typical, I mean I would not play heavy bows in Sarasate.

Why not? Sarasate is not that far back. I use very heavy bows in Playera, for example. a lot of it is on the G string.

I do not understand your logic ...

Read Ricci on Glissando ...

July 12, 2016 at 08:41 PM · When I say "heavy bows' I mean the correct bow weight and speed for the sound needed.

I kept in mind the glissandos, and perhaps, and this is just a theory, it just does not match, but an up glissando and theeen (hehe), going back to the original position to play the original note with the same finger is perhaps a proto-gamak, or mini-raga

Krisztian - I'm not at all sure about what you are trying to say? Maybe we are not on the same wavelength?

July 13, 2016 at 07:18 AM · Krisztian, in music based on harmonic progression, slides are "only" passages, or expressive distortions, of scale degrees; on the other hand, played against a drone (be it harmonium or tampura) they aquire meanings of their own.

July 13, 2016 at 02:34 PM · Peter, if You could write your ideas in one post, it might be a huge improvement ;-)

July 13, 2016 at 03:01 PM · In addition to responding in one post (instead of three or four) it helps the clarity of discussion if one has not been smoking a lot of weed.

July 13, 2016 at 05:02 PM · ??

I gave up weed about 40 years ago and cigarettes too. But maybe that comment is not aimed at me?

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Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

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