Lin, Rachlin, or Jackiw?

February 27, 2019, 5:40 PM · I've checked the schedule for the next season of the Indianapolis Symphony, and there are 3 concerts featuring violinists.

Richard Lin (Brahms, Janacek, Dvorak)
Julian Rachlin (Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky)
Stefan Jackiw (Korngold and Mahler)

I'm not familiar with any of them, and the budget won't allow me to see all three. I love Mendelssohn and am tempted to choose Rachlin for that reason, but all three are playing pieces from composers I love. That makes it hard to choose :-)

Anyone familiar with all three? They all must be good so no concern with that. I had hoped to see Hillary Hahn on the list, but no such joy. She was here a couple years back and I'm sure she has no small number of venues from which to choose.

Replies (73)

February 27, 2019, 5:48 PM · I'd go for Lin or Rachlin. Leaning towards Lin for me, though, because I love the Dvorak concerto so much.
However, I think you should look them up and listen to them play and determine who's style and tone and general playing you like the most.
February 27, 2019, 6:00 PM · Thanks Nina, I'm going to do that, I was just wondering how well known they are.
February 27, 2019, 6:14 PM · I liked Lin's playing in the Wieniawski competition (best player there for my money, at least in the round I watched), but haven't seen him. I have seen Jackiw, and he had a really pressed sound the entire time. It was very unpleasant.
February 27, 2019, 6:16 PM · Who, who, or who?
Edited: February 27, 2019, 7:11 PM · Thanks Christian, I listened to Lin playing Bruch (part of Scottish Fantasy) tonight and enjoyed listening to him. I'm assuming they are all younger, but I may be far off base here.

I do know that Lin won the 2018 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. Apparently that's been happening here every 4 years since 1982. I've been here for 17 years and didn't know about it.

Apparently one can watch the performances by all 38 participants from the preliminaries, semifinals, and finals on demand:

https://www.violin.org/watch-archive-streaming

February 27, 2019, 7:38 PM · I don't think I've heard Lin. Jackiw is good. But Julian Rachlin is marvelous. Rachlin isn't young -- early forties. He's got a wonderful romantic sensibility.
Edited: February 27, 2019, 11:43 PM · Assuming the programs are the violin concertos thereof, for my money, if you don't go to much live music, a program of Korngold and Mahler can be a bit much...

I don't love Richard Lin's interpretation of Brahms on youtube (or actually, his interpretation of most things in general), but it really is up to you and who's interpretation of what you find most pleasant, and to some extent, which violinist you "have to hear more of". Some people on these boards dislike Hilary Hahn. I personally dislike the Mendelssohn concerto and love Brahms, so I'd go with Brahms VC over almost anything.

PS: Hilary Hahn is playing Sibelius in Chicago in May, and I'm super stoked to hear her. If you're short on cash and want to go, I can at least offer to let you crash in my guest bedroom.

February 28, 2019, 12:02 AM · I actually would prefer the Korngold/Mahler evening, then the Mendelssohn Concerto evening.

It's worth noting, IMHO, it's better to attend two concerts on affordable seats than one with the "best" seat on the house, barring bad acoustics in some halls.

Koengold is not hard to listen at all, and Mahler 5 is just exuberant, but nothing harsh. One of my favorite symphonies ever is the Mahler 6th.

As far as Jackiw's "pressed tone" is concerned, while I am not a fan of uber pressure, it's a very common playstyle nowadays, and some players make it work for themselves quite well. Plenty of students and orchestral pros do the same, like it or not.

All of these performers are good, though I am not the biggest fan of any of them. Would choose according to repertoire on the case above.

Frankly, the Mendelssohn and Brahms are so great works that, if you haven't seen them often *live* (YouTube "live" doesn't count), you shouldn't miss them-or one of them.

Edited: February 28, 2019, 6:27 AM · I love Mendelssohn so will likely choose that one, but all three include at least one composer I love. So far I've only listened to Lin on YouTube, but all 3 concerts are later this year, no need to make up my mind now. I appreciate the feedback!

James, if it wasn't May, or if her concert wasn't on a weeknight, I may have taken you up on that offer, thanks for offering! Itzhak Perlman is also part of that series. I know he is past his prime, but he has been one of my favorites since childhood and would have lived to see both of them.


I do have a ticket for March 29 to see James Ehnes play Sibelius in Indianapolis. I'm really looking forward to it and got a good seat for much lower than I thought possible due to a special sale on all seats for Valentine's Day for the next 4 concerts. This will be my first live classical concert in a long time.


February 28, 2019, 8:00 AM · Rachlin is the best of the three.
February 28, 2019, 9:05 AM · I would do whatever I could to hear the Brahms and Mendelssohn. The Brahms is a marvelously constructed concerto. I was fortunate to see the Brahms in concert with Isaac Stern and Eric Friedman and the experiences were as different as they could possibly be.
Stern's sound powered through the orchestra's just as it always does in recordings (and as Heifetz and Perlman always did in concert). Friedman's sound, on the other hand, was often covered by the orchestra - except for his overtones - and that was when the marvel of Brahms's composing skills most impressed me - to hear the violin singing above the masses instead of just powering over them.
The Mendelssohn I've only seen in concert by Anne Akiko Meyers - (other than some far lesser fiddlers) and from the concertmaster's seat she sounded and looked marvelous, but it's not a fair place from which to judge balance (she was just 12 and coming off her LA Phil debut).

I would pick the Brahms if I could pick only one.

February 28, 2019, 10:57 AM · Adalberto, you aren't kidding about that being the style with a lot of soloists. I can take it occasionally to make a certain emphasis, but when it is just how someone plays, then they just have a bad tone and it seems to me that they couldn't care less about how they sound (flashbacks of Nadia Solerno Sonnenberg). In that case, maybe they should take up painting?

A whole night of pressed sound is just oppressive.

Edited: February 28, 2019, 7:47 PM · I can't choose, so it will be both Mendelssohn and Brahms. I love both - how can I choose? I will make it work, and have never seen/heard either live. I'm not getting any younger!

I really appreciate the comments and input - thank you. Andrew - thank you for sharing your experience with both Isaac Stern and Eric Friedman. I can only imagine the scope and range of the concerts you've played in/seen.

March 1, 2019, 6:52 AM · Quite the first-world problem!!

"Who, who, or who?" Are you kidding? Okay, so none of these guys is dead. Strike one against them, I suppose, but they might still be top-flight soloists.

I agree with Andrew that it would be hard to turn away the Brahms, but I have enjoyed everything I have heard played by Jackiw, although I have never seen him live.

FYI, Mr. Friedman's name is spelled "Erick" with a "k". Frequent v-com contributor Nate Robinson studied with him. That must have been some kind of experience. It would be fun to learn more about what happened in his lessons in fine detail.

I'll tell you what -- I'd be supporting the Indianapolis Symphony if I lived there and they were bringing in three great violinists like that every year. Phew.

March 1, 2019, 10:06 AM · "Who, who, and who" was a troll comment. I know certain players I like more than these great three l, and people like that poster would likely post a bigger "who?" stamp on them.

I am usually in a position to choose among many greats, and feel bad I cannot attend everything I would like. Sometimes one can get spoiled by choice. If you can go to a concert, just go. If I was to live elsewhere-not my plans to be sure-my appreciation for even the lesser known younger soloists would likely increase quite a big deal.

So if you can go, go whenever
you can. Listening to live violin concerts and recitals is part of the art, amd works as a sort of "practice laboratory" as far as I am concerned. Youtube live broadcasts, digital downloads, LPs, CDs, is *not* the same as being there in that Hall for that particular performance.

The greatness of the old masters shouldn't preclude us from enjoying today's artistry. I do not believe that is something they would have advocated themselves, *at all*.

March 1, 2019, 10:20 AM · I'd never heard of Richard Lin before, or at least I hadn't remembered him. (I had not watched the 2018 Indianapolis competition.) He doesn't have a website and I imagine he hasn't had many major orchestra engagements, and he doesn't seem to have much of a media profile at all. "Who?" is not an unreasonable response there.

On the other hand, Jackiw is pretty well known these days. Rachlin is one of those players who is moderately well known but certainly not a household name even amongst violinists.

March 1, 2019, 10:50 AM · Yes Paul, it is indeed a 1st world problem! The Indianapolis Symphony brings in very good people for all styles of music. This includes James Ehnes in about 4 weeks, I'm really looking forward to seeing him and to see what I think of Sibelius live.
Edited: March 1, 2019, 12:47 PM · Catherine, I second Paul's suggestion but for more amusing reasons. By all means, ask Mr. Robinson about his teachers. Like a lady fresh from a cat show, Nate will eagerly tell you about the pedigree of each one and therefore himself. And for additional merriment, quote Ruggiero Ricci saying something like, "the Russian bow grip is inferior to the Franco-Belgian," and watch smoke pour from his ears and through your computer screen. Fun, fun.
March 1, 2019, 12:49 PM · I fail to see why the above comment was warranted. Just let people be who they are, and believe whatever they do. Most of us just enjoy the art of violin playing, whatever our favorite traditions may be.
March 2, 2019, 4:03 PM · https://www.instagram.com/p/Bug1vvUAQbQ/ I don't think Jackiw's sound is pressed - he's had quite a nice tonal range the times I've heard him. But, de gustibus.

Catherine, I'd say you can't lose - any of them is going to be a great concert with an interesting violinist, and if it becomes possible I'd suggest going to more than one!

March 3, 2019, 2:00 AM · Jackiw sure talks a good game.
March 3, 2019, 4:17 AM · I played a few concerts with Jackiw in Boston when he was still in school. High school, I think. Very fine, although I found some recordings of that vintage that didn’t capture his tone well at all. Haven’t heard him since, but based on that experience he is a safer bet for me than—say— Joshua Bell.
March 10, 2019, 6:43 PM · How was the show?
Edited: March 10, 2019, 7:51 PM · Richard is a friend of mine and one of Mr. Rosand's very fine students from the Curtis Institute. I highly recommend going to hear him play! He sounded great at the Indianapolis on that C. G. Testore, which is just as good as any del Gesu in my opinion.

Hi Benjamin, I actually spent a wonderful afternoon in 2005 with Ruggiero Ricci at his home in Palm Springs. I had a lovely time working on Paganini Caprices with him. He had no issues with the 'Russian bow hold' for your information. How's Suzuki Book 2 coming along?

Edited: March 10, 2019, 11:09 PM · Hi Nate-- Suzuki two is finished but needs refinement. In between publishing books and writing articles and teaching students, I enjoy learning the professions of others, which they do for pay and I do for fun. I know you hate reading, so here is a video on Ricci discussing inter alia the Russian bow hold...a bow hold which I actually use.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3riM9mQa8nY

Edited: March 12, 2019, 8:47 PM · Hi Benjamin, glad to hear about your development on the violin in addition to your publishing, and your other academic pursuits. Yes Ricci did say to me he felt it was easier to change the bow with greater flexibility at the frog using a more FB Belgian approach. However he didn’t feel it was necessary for me to switch to it since I was in my 20’s at the time and the Russian bow hold was already embedded in my system..I remember he said he felt the Russian hold was especially effective in the upper half of the bow. I saw Leonidas Kavakos the other night play at Carnegie Hall. He played fabulously as always using a form of the Russian bow hold - like his teacher Josef Gingold. I guess there’s more than one way to skin the cat?
March 11, 2019, 5:05 AM · Paul - those concerts are later in the year, just have to decide now which tickets to get the best price. As I can't decide am going to make all three of them. I really appreciate the discussion and feedback.

In 2 weeks I'm seeing James Ehnes (Sibelius), also at the Indianapolis Symphony. Really looking forward to it!

March 11, 2019, 7:59 AM · There was mention above about Stefan Jackiw's 'pressed tone'. Here he is playing the Mendelssohn - can someone explain to me what they mean? Maybe with a time reference? Or do so on a different recording?

It sounds very lucid and very beautiful to my ear (at least on my laptop).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jtc70YRIT8

March 11, 2019, 8:28 AM · Jackiw has a Bruch Scottish Fantasy video on YouTube where it sounds, at the beginning, that the violin is resisting a bit -- he seems to be pushing the sound and cracks the tone a few times, before settling in a few minutes into the performance. I suspect that's not so much him as a temperamental instrument reacting to a change in environment, though.
March 11, 2019, 9:44 AM · This "temperamental instrument" is probably worth $5 million.
March 11, 2019, 10:57 AM · Formula One is hard. You prefer a station wagon, those are available as well.
March 11, 2019, 2:21 PM · A great instrument is hard to play Stephen? Is that real or just romantic.
Edited: March 11, 2019, 2:27 PM · Nate, I had heard Kavakos actually switched to the Russian hold a few years ago - I guess he must have been looking for something particular in his sound. Although looking at older videos, I can't tell exactly, as his hand did look pretty tilted already, so I may be thinking of someone else.

As far as Jackiw's sound, this was in Denver, which is really dry, so it's possible that his violin was being fussy and he couldn't figure out how to get a singing sound out on the fly. It's also at elevation, and he may have just had an off day - Flying in from somewhere else could play all kinds of tricks on a soloist.

He was playing two Brahms sonatas among other things, and his sound was pretty consistently over-pressed, so I assumed that it was a reflection of his conception of the music, but it's possible that he usually has a nice cantilena. Whenever I've given performers a second chance on a performance I really didn't like, I've just gotten my bad impression confirmed, but you never know. Still, he played in tune.

BTW, this is neither here nor there, but I was trying to respond to the challenge thread and it looks like it got archived - huh?

March 11, 2019, 3:47 PM · Maybe you can find a recording that shows that - what do you think of his Mendelssohn linked above?
March 11, 2019, 3:54 PM · Christian, Kavakos said he switched to the Russian bow hold right before the Naumburg Competition in 1988.

March 11, 2019, 4:54 PM · "As far as Jackiw's sound, this was in Denver, which is really dry, so it's possible that his violin was being fussy and he couldn't figure out how to get a singing sound out on the fly."

Don't these guys warm up? All this random speculation might be fun, but let's at least call it what it is.

Elise I agree that Mendelssohn recording sounds great. Just in the opening phrases it was interesting to see how much the sound point was changing. One wonders how much of that is intentional and how much is random -- because his tone production is so thoroughly grooved that if he finds himself in the wrong "lane" his mind instantly adjusts the other parameters and he's fine. These top pros make these automatic adjustments in their intonation. Why not in their tone production too?

March 11, 2019, 5:38 PM · Must say I didn't look that closely Paul! I would guess that the adjustments are automatic, compensating with different actions depending on the sound output, not the bow placement, pressure, speed etc etc (although I'm sure there are game plans for all).
March 12, 2019, 9:01 AM · Some great instruments are easy to play, some very hard.
March 12, 2019, 10:22 AM · Elise, listening now to the Mendelssohn, it sounds good to my ears. I just know he didn't sound like that when I heard him, and I don't know how to account for it - I find that going to a concert live can be a whole different beast than listening on a recording. Paul, I guess I was trying to be charitable in spite of myself. I get pretty annoyed at bad recitals and concerts, even though I adjust my expectations for student recitals. I'm pretty over the Colorado Symphony bringing the same performers year after year, some of them just being clowns, and the more they contort their bodies and faces, the longer the standing ovation from the audience.

Still, I should be seeing Augustin Hadelich in a month, and he has been great with orchestras every time I've seen him, although even he was just a bit underwhelming when I saw him play chamber music - it seemed he didn't adjust his sound and approach to suit the more intimate setting. Who knows?

March 12, 2019, 2:36 PM · Paul, as far as I know, Jackiw plays a JB Vuillaume (and IIRC, his parents bought it for him when he was a teenager). So six figures, not millions.

I play a temperamental instrument. The weather has a big effect on sound. A bridge and/or soundpost adjustment will generally take care of little bits of weirdness, but clearly a touring player generally doesn't have time for that tweak. There are days when it will squeak when pushed, and it just seems to resist the bow.

Edited: March 12, 2019, 5:17 PM · Whether six figures or seven, the spirit of my comment is the same: He (or his parents) spent way more on his violin than most of us ever will on our houses, violins, and vehicles combined, and then it turns out to be a fair-weather friend! Are we to conclude that great antique violins are only great half the time? Lydia? When the weather turns against your violin do you switch to your backup? Or wrestle with your violin "resisting the bow" knowing it will still sound better? And will it always?
Edited: March 17, 2019, 10:42 PM · To All and Catherine Kostyn ~

Just dropping in, having written a bit on Laurie Niles' Vote for March 10, 2019,Weekend, I am truly puzzled by the term, 'pressed' sound?! Never having heard our Mentor, Jascha Heifetz, use such a term, ('our'= my JH Violin Master Class class-mate, Erick Friedman), might Nate Robinson, a pupil of my friend/class-mate, Erick Friedman, explain exactly what sort of violin tone is being described??!! Perhaps this is 'new' 2019 Twenty First Century - Speak, but after studying with Violin Icon's, Heifetz and Nathan Milstein, and extensively so, this seems a 'weird' adjective to me!

Oppressed sound makes more sense vis a vie overplaying or pressing the bow harshly & very close to the bridge without a very deliberately slowed tempo bow, or a fast bow right close to or almost on the bridge can cause a most unpleasant sound not to be attributed to the instrument one is playing, mind you ~ In the instance of what many term, "Bow Grip" & added name, 'Russian' to it, this is folly, guys! Those under aged 50 or thereabouts, it seems have coined the term, 'Russian bow grip', to describe my mentor,
Jascha Heifetz's, individual holding of the Bow, or Mr. Milstein's completely different motion from that of Heifetz, in the holding & use of the Bow!

(Having studied privately with Nathan Milstein, in London, at his Belgravia
Chester Square home, for 3 & 1/2 years, twice or even 3 times weekly, at
least 3 & 1/2 hours to 4 + hours each 'session', I was what NM called,'my guinea pig! I can experiment because you play well!' After a transplantation
of Nathan Milstein bow arm techniques over a year & a half, I do know a bit about the How of 2 Greatest Violin Masters, ever, re bowing & all it entails.) Tbc! 'The Bachelor' is on & a necessary escape for me! (They're together!)

Now back re bowing talk & Whom to hear, Live, with a partial response to
Catherine's question. Only yesterday, 3/11/19, I happened to see and hear Julian Rachlin performing Saint Saens Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso in
a Live performance w/ the Israel Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, conducting,
circa 2002. Never having heard him before, I hadn't preconceived notions of his playing, but as he grimaced both facially and crunched chords in the
triple stops whilst also changing tempi any ole' time, I was thoroughly put
off ~ The grimaces bore No relevance to the beauty inherent in the slower
romantic melody & it appeared vain to me. His stage deportment was as a
person desperately trying to please 'Poppa' Mehta. As the Manager of our
Chicago Symphony Orchestra once asked a famed musician - seated with us as a guest, re the CSO under C. Kleiber, debuting here in the Brahms
2nd Symphony, 'What did you think of Kleiber's interpretation?', the artist w/
us quipped, "Brahms Lost!" To me, Saint Saens 'Lost' to too undisciplined,
dare I say it, ego and 'me, me' of the Violinist, compromising artistic style & fidelity to emotion with grace due to the still 'virtuoso syndrome' at the time
of that Live public performance in Israel ~ For myself, I wouldn't want to go
to hear a piece, the perfect violin concerto of Felix Mendelssohn, played in
the manner I heard 24 hours ago ... Better to listen to Fritz Kreisler's fabled
interpretation which is full of charm, right rhythmic verve, easy technique &
musical beauty embellished by perfected intonation ~ Sad to say, it takes a
person with life experience, then smoothed out, plus greatness of soul to
offer Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in platinum ... Rather unsure of the 2
other violinist's, if I had a very modest budget, I'd save up for Hilary Hahn
in the Sibelius (it's truly solid & good!) & crash in James T.'s guest room or
if I'd stumbled on to this 2 days ago, trained it to NYC, & got into Carnegie
to hear Anne-Sophie Mutter in a Trio premiere of an American composer, &
on the heels of having just lost her beloved former husband, yet soul-mate & musical confidante, the newly late Andre Previn, this night of March 12, '19 ... Mutter is worth hearing with a vibrant sound & musical taste w/class,
stylistically. Do any friends here think any artist over 40 is 'no longer in his or her prime'??? Try a very young violinist, forgot the name, (Kim?) but he actually used his Teeth on a string (Yes!) to highlight a devilish 'Bite' in a work of Paganini, not a Caprice, playing the rest magnificently w/ Mozartian style & glorious tone ~

May I ask re a comment seen saying 'some Boards don't like Hilary Hahn'? Is this here-say or rumour or grapevine gossip? Maybe I'm listening to true quality performances of Great's, but me thinks there is a huge drop in the
standards from The Masters, closer to me, than to more I'm learning of, at least on this particular discussion ...

If Catherine must hear the Brahms, try to hear a Great, somewhat silenced,
American Violinist, Elmar Oliveira!!! A friend & truly grand musician, miles
above some p.r. promoted, Elmar Oliveira, is the closest to Milstein of our
Baby Boomer generation!!! Listen to his Barber V.C., & Bloch Baal Shem ~
This is what thirsty souls are searching for ...

Leaving you, all sincere violinists, aficionados & looking for Truth friends, this is a direct quote from my legendary mentor, Jascha Heifetz, the first
day of our original 7 pupils JH Violin Master Class ~ (now on YouTube)

"Pupil's, there are No Shortcuts!!"

Sending warm musical greetings to all ~

Elisabeth Matesky *

*James T., what a truly kind gesture to offer Catherine a spare room ~
Mr. 'H.' would've liked that!! JH once gave a poor violinist outside his
London Queens Hall Entrance, unable to buy a ticket, asking JH for
his autograph, crying for joy, a £20 pound Note, autographed to the
name of the dear man, with best wishes, JH ~ (Upon the poor man's
death, London newspapers carried the story of a neighbour finding
that £20 pound Note w/ JH's autograph, by the deceased poor man's
bedside ~) Makes me cry ... How moving of Heifetz, who had Heart ~

**Thanks & Hello's to Nate Robinson & better than he thinks, Paul Deck!!

March 12, 2019 ~

March 12, 2019, 7:56 PM · Nice interview here - sounds like it's not a Vuillaume unless things have changed recently: http://stringsmagazine.com/stefan-jackiw-finds-his-1704-vincenzo-rugeri-violin-to-be-a-versatile-vessel/
Edited: March 14, 2019, 9:52 PM · Dear Elizabeth,

The trouble with being an amateur such as I, who have never been worthy of tutoring from the likes of Heifetz and Friedman, is that we have, sadly and regrettably, not yet mastered the production of sound on our sub-six-figure violins. We therefore find the need to contrive our own dialect for the miserable groans that we hear under our ears, and for the clumsy means by which we clutch our bows.

It is a wrenching personal cataclysm to open a volume entitled "Book 1" (i.e., of Schradieck) and see that one is somehow being asked to play dozens of notes in a single bow without one's tone ever cracking or sounding "pressed." And to know that it would be so much easier if one could one only convince the fingers of one's left hand to rise and fall just a little faster!

But coming to the point, inasmuch as you used the phrase "pressing too harshly" in your description of "oppressed bowing," perhaps "pressed sound" is not such a distant concept? I think we are talking about the same thing. It just sounds different in patois.

Edited: March 12, 2019, 8:51 PM · Hi Ms. Matesky nice hearing from you! I’m also a little unclear about what a pressed tone means. I remember Erick Friedman called the bow hold Mr. Heifetz used ‘the prodigy grip.’ His theory was that several of the child prodigies like Heifetz and Elman in the Auer class developed this bow hold naturally as a result of the bow being a little too big for the child at the time. Friedman said in his opinion that by securing the stick closer to the base joint of the index finger it gave these children a little additional leverage. Erick Friedman, who as many know, studied with Galamian in his formative years (before going to Heifetz), told me he used a version of Galamian’s bow hold sans the hyper extended index finger and Heifetz told him to keep using it even though it was different from his. Our friend Arturo Delmoni also recalled from watching Heifetz and Milstein at lessons and in performances that their bow holds were quite different. I’d be most interested to hear more about your studies and what you saw since you were ‘at the scene of the crime.’

Regarding Jackiw, I have no negative opinion regarding his sound. I’ve heard him quite a few times in person. He ran through a bunch of repertoire at a college for a few friends in the area and I got a good idea of his playing from 10-20 feet away. When I think of a forced, undesirable sound, his name does not come to mind. Stefan by the way plays on a Vincenzo Rugeri violin, not a Vuillaume.

Edited: March 15, 2019, 9:47 AM · Nate wrote, "I’m also a little unclear about what a pressed tone means."

Do you have any "intermediate" students? If so, then imagine them trying to play Schradieck No. 1 without *quite* having the ability to manage that many notes in a single bow. To eke out the last few notes they will slow their bow speed and push down a little more, as there is no alternative once one has reached that impasse. The result is the fabled "pressed" tone of which we speak. The reason this may be puzzling to you is because it is quite difficult to imagine why a violinist of Jackiw's caliber would be making such an unpleasant sound. But of course it varies by degree -- that is to say that it needn't be as dire as I have implied. Nevertheless the description is channeling that experience, which some of us know far too well, but which you and Milstein's Guinea Pig have evidently long forgotten.

Edited: March 19, 2019, 7:53 PM · I think I'm confusing Jackiw with another young violinist, in terms of what they're playing on, but I'm totally blanking on a name now.

EDIT: I was thinking of Stephen Waarts.

March 15, 2019, 1:42 PM · Then Paul would you say that Pinchas Zuckerman has a 'pressed tone'? He is famous for his slow bow speed...
Edited: March 15, 2019, 3:20 PM · Many greats favor that style of sound. One can still not prefer it, without denying their proper place in the violin world.

I like whatever sounds good, "pressed" or otherwise. I do think some that "press" do not necessarily have a great tone, though, so it's not as simple as "pressing = powerful". I have also witnessed many innocent "non-pressers" being deemed "pressers" just because their tone has some edge and bite.

March 15, 2019, 3:13 PM · It's easy to confuse a slow bow speed sound with a close mic'd sound. Gotta pay attention to where the mics are placed, to have any sort of clue about what's really going on.
March 15, 2019, 6:30 PM · Zukerman gets the voice of God out of his Guarneri. Sarah Chang presses hard. Big difference.
Edited: March 15, 2019, 9:18 PM · No, I wouldn't say Zuckerman has a "pressed tone." I just heard his Mendelssohn on the radio the other day and it was fantastic, unbelievable. I love his sound and the way he plays.

I only meant to try to describe the SOUND that people are talking about here. That's the trouble with language -- it is intrinsically limited. "Pressed tone" is what you get when an INTERMEDIATE AMATEUR starts to run out of bow and had several notes yet to play. Could y'all try to meet me half-way here?

If Zuckerman or Jackiw is experiencing a "pressed tone" the more likely reason is that there is some problem with his violin or the recording equipment because these guys know how to make sound. When someone says Jackiw's tone sounded pressed, probably that means that to that listener that it sounded 95% fine and 5% "pressed." They didn't mean that he was sounding like an amateur. That wouldn't even be credible.

Has nobody else here *ever* struggled with tone production? Has nobody else here *ever* started to run out of bow with a few notes yet to pay and heard that sound that I'm describing as "pressed"?

March 15, 2019, 10:32 PM · There are certainly professionals whose sound seems very pressed. More weight than their instruments can comfortably take, I think.
March 16, 2019, 2:09 AM · Catherine, my personal basic rule of thumb would be, "if there's Korngold, then go for it". The Korngold violin concerto is so darn beautiful, and relatively seldom played while the Mendelssohn is awaiting you around the next corner.
I see no big point in choosing between players of this caliber without having a special interest in one of them. It's like asking who will have a good and motivated day then, and who will feel tired from touring.
March 16, 2019, 1:19 PM · Lydia I was trying to be charitable with 95-5. Of course this is parametric.
March 16, 2019, 2:35 PM · I think we all know what you mean Paul - its where the borders are that is the challenge. Pressure is actually not the problem but a lack of balance between pressure, sound point and bow speed - and (as Lydia said) matching that to the instrument...
Edited: March 18, 2019, 12:46 AM · @Paul Deck ~

Yes, dear Paul, I've accepted some 'intermediate' pupil's and deliberately so, to address the troubles you describe re ~ running out of a slowed bow then most pressing (or pushing) too hard downward on the bow, trying to 'eke out' the last few notes in a Schradieck or other Study ~ Without giving a bowing lesson here, let me just say, there continues to be a mythical idea of the "Straight Bow", taught by most who haven't been fortunate enough to be (saying this w/ love) 'yelled at' in Chester Square for the first 1 & 1/2 years w/Milstein! NM's bowing was circular & easy to show, Live, yet scary to try explaining it here, But just look at the curve of any bridge on a violin, viola, 'cello or double bass ~ Next, imagine laying it down atop the violin on its belly & you will see the arch in a quarter moon shape. We must follow an arched trajectory in the way we Think of bowing as opposed to 'straight', but in a sort of rounded way starting Always at The Tip (for those with the firm idea of a 'straight bow') starting from a bit Behind ourselves w/the Bow to the right & brushing up in the air then on to an open A string or any other & allowing the body to sway w/left leg/foot planted & right leg/foot as a rotating swaying from the waist part w/our body as the Bow is being brushed Up all the way to the Frog yet going-continuing on past into the swaying slightly to the left air above.The enabler of this are both feet, placed in the positions described, yet lightly stomping up & down (like marching) but in place yet turning while lightly stomping up & down to allow the body to sway all the way around while holding the bow, but on the Up (V) Bow! Fully realising this may sound confusing, this is a Basic formulae for the bow to continue on without down pressure to eke out notes left to be played. I'm not speaking of a virtuoso concert sound, but a baby beginning of such ~ (Watch NM playing Solo Bach w/No hacked sounds at the Frog or anywhere else ~ )

NM Always swayed ever so slightly w/his fabled bow arm! It took me over a year plus to finally change my Franco-Belgium taught Bow approach, but in my gut, I knew Mr. Milstein was sharing his unique idea's with me, later on developing what I term "The Dizzy Exercise" to help all pupils become un-stuck, physically, & in turn, musically liberated ~ I've not suggested crazy over emoting with Up & Down full body gestures. NO!! This is a concept of following the quarter moon arch of the bridge w/the Bow in your mind & right hand by simply placing fingers on the bow w/the Middle finger & Thumb being touching partner anchor's w/other fingers/ wrist (not pushed down) then becoming less strained (& a touch rounded) as the right shoulder bow arm is V bow brushed on to the A string from slightly behind oneself & on Up to the frog - not hitting the silver of the frog but brushed on In The Air - with one's body on a veering to the left sway on an Up (V) brushed bow ... To enable this sway, both feet must be placed as follows: left foot planted & right foot a movable anchor which is rotating the body from the waist on a non-stop gentle sway to the left yet lifting feet Up & Down in one place (as marching) when brushing Up (V) bow ~

After thinking of NM's rare bowing ideas w/truly concerned doubts about this being unclear in print, I'm of the mind to delete too much information to avoid as yet unexperienced positive results with comments of doubt despite the obvious artistry of the Nathan Milstein approach to Bowing as passed on to myself, at least at this moment in time ... If interested, people can call
or email on (1-312-951-8531) or elisabethmatesky@gmail.com ~ Please do
state 'Milstein Bowing Approach Questions' from X or Y. (Fees for time can be quoted if private study is requested ~)

Sending kind wishes to all to enjoy a lovely finale to St. Paddy's Day!

Musically Speaking from Chicago ~

Elisabeth Matesky >

>Bio available here, Facebook, www.linkedin.com, www.cso.org

March 17, 2019, 2:53 PM · A previous teacher of mine (a Philadelphia Orchestra violinist taught by Auer pupil Bronstein originally, and who knew Milstein personally and adopted his way of bowing) described the motion like the arc of a door opening and closing, with a "follow through with the whole arm" (thinking of the motion as continuing past the frog) on the up-bow. It emphasizes using bow-speed for volume, rather than more weight on the strings. The arc also makes it easier to reach the tip of the bow if you have short arms.
Edited: March 17, 2019, 3:23 PM · Elizabeth - and I thought his arc was because he had short arms! That was given as the explanation for his curious violin hold - sort of pinned onto his lapel!

Thanks for the interesting explanation (which will take some study!).
[Edit - I just noticed that Lydia mentioned the same possibility re arm lenght.]

Edited: March 18, 2019, 12:08 AM · Dear Lydia Leong ~

I studied privately with Nathan Milstein, in his Chester Square home in London for over 3 & 1/2 years!! Heartened to read your short interpretation of 'a door opening and closing', this does not convey the technical way to achieve the Milstein bowing technique he taught, shared &, yes!, yelled I do & learn to do!!! After studying with Jascha Heifetz, in his first & original JH Violin Master Class at USC - subsequently filmed for PBS, NY, TV, by our Producer, Nathan Kroll, in which my film out of the 7 (we seven original JH pupils, including Erick Friedman, Varoujan Kodjian, Robert Witte, Adam Han Gorski, Claire Hodgkin's, Carol Sindell & myself), JH Violin Master Class - Khachaturian, JH-7, Elisabeth Matesky, you will see my still Franco-Belgium bow arm which Mr. Heifetz tries to make a few bowing ideas in the Finale bowing's of the 1st movement, were later completely helped & nearly 'transplanted' into my bowing arm by Mr. Milstein, himself!! (We were under the same London Concert Artist Management, and introduced by a revered Auer St. Petersburg class-mate of both Mr.'s Heifetz & Milstein, London's Sascha Lasserson, the greatest Auer exponent in Europe & the UK, whom Heifetz told me to study with as I'd received the Fulbright Fellowship to London, after graduating from USC's Institute for Special Music Studies with Jascha Heifetz!!) Link to YouTube film: https://youtu.be/M54U-P-Vs9g

I do know quite a bit about NM's bowing & bowing's in most of his concert violin repertoire & was his p.t. Help- assistant when he began his first new Nathan Milstein Violin Master Courses in Zurich, in 1970 ~ It was a grand compliment from Mr. Milstein to be on standby for pupils whom he thought needed a bit of bow help ... This would never have occurred unless he had felt I (his self-termed, 'guinea pig' artist pupil) was capable of explaining the various bowing ideas he shared in the 5 day a week Zurich Master Courses for 2 full weeks!! Btw, marvellous violinists came from far & wide to audit & play in the main Course, each Day ~ We continued our musical friendship
until Mr. Milstein's passing on December 21, 1992 . . . A loss of God for us
all ~

Anyway, please accept warm musical greetings and know what I've tried to baby-step describe here, may be somewhat confusing or contrary to many Not lucky enough to be in Nathan Milstein's presence for a very long time ... If you wish, please post back if you think my in-print attempts are in any way not Helpful or misleading, as this is Only intended to help all who do suffer from bowing ills & physical itis's due to faithfully following mythical idea's of a "Straight Bow" & getting all sorts of arm, wrist, etc., medical troubles as a result ~ (Lydia, I never blame the pupil, but the teacher who
instilled what he/she was taught & always w/understanding that very few violinists have been so richly blessed ~ ) Thank you for any feed back ...

Due to by invitation only information, please understand the deletion of any involved ideas from my Mentor, Nathan Milstein, or myself posted above ~

Yours very sincerely and in good willed faith ~

Elisabeth Matesky

(Sunday, March 17, 2019 ~ St. Patrick's Day ) **

** Elise Stanley!! Thanks much!!! I never heard Mr. Milstein speak of
short arms being a reason why/how he bowed! It was Milstein's Art ~

Edited: March 17, 2019, 6:04 PM · Not knowing NM yet except by name, I looked up a few YouTube videos. I think in the Video of Bach Partita No. 3 it is relatively clear to see what you mean ( not in detail, but basically), and I'd never have the idea there was something about his arm length - seems that he had plenty of it in reserve. I admire how clear, unpretentious and nuanced he was in his playing...
March 17, 2019, 8:07 PM · You will see the arced bowing also if you watch Stern. Somehow, though, I'm not sure that will give me the last 5-6 notes of a Schradieck phrase with better tone ...
March 17, 2019, 10:52 PM · You'll see the arc bowing in a lot of players with Russian-style bow-arms. Milstein's bow arm is relatively unique, though -- look at the way that he uses his upper arm / shoulder, especially.

And Nuuska, Milstein is magnificent. A true violinist's violinist, so to speak. He's a contemporary of Heifetz's, and absolutely everything he's ever recorded is worth listening to. My overall favorite violinist of that generation.

Edited: March 18, 2019, 1:41 AM · Dear Lydia ~

Love your classic taste & discernment regarding my dear mentor and close friend, Nathan Milstein! He was & remains the only Peer of Jascha Heifetz, who, btw, adored Milstein, telling me so in his Malibu Beach House on one July Fourth, when my American Concert Manager just literally dropped in over Mr. Heifetz's pink 9 foot wall surrounding his Malibu retreat!! (Horrified, I was a nervous wreck when my Manager informed me, "Mr. Heifetz said to come back at 8:00 PM when the Gate will be unlocked for you and 'Liz' to enter.") It was inconceivable any person in the Concert Artist Management business would have the 'bloody' nerve (call it Moxy!) to just drop over JASCHA HEIFETZ'S wall on a July 4th evening, uninvited no less, and told by JH when he asked, "How do I get back to my car outside, Mr. Heifetz?", 'The same way you got in!!!!' He had to climb back out over that 9 foot wall!! Utterly Insane!!! When going back thru the opened Gate, I got so nervous, I took a calm pill!! Once greeted by Heifetz's longtime Housekeeper, I started to calm down, but immediately began profuse apologies to Mr. Heifetz for such disrespect by my Manager ~ To my utter surprise, it seemed Heifetz rather liked the idea and spent 2 + hours in his Beach House lounge talking Music Business Talk with my not-afraid-of-anybody Manager!! It was during
their conversation when my Manager blurted out Milstein's name, saying he had just been in Milstein's home in London, that Heifetz warmed noticeably, saying, "Ahh, Milstein! He is my Friend!!" It was deeply moving seeing and listening to the Great Heifetz speaking so affectionately about Mr. Milstein!!!

Very late here, Buena Note and Thank you for your wonderful words about Nathan Milstein to Nuuska, regarding Milstein being 'magnificent'!! AMEN ~

Accept a Chicago Hug, dear Lydia!!!

Elisabeth Matesky

March 18, 2019, 2:07 AM · Lydia, Elisabeth - rest assured I'll explore his recordings, now that I took the bait...

Someone who also advocates an "arched" (and maybe even more an "anything but straight") bowing approach nowadays is Simon Fischer. I'm drawing a lot of profit (even at my very basic stage of violinistic skills) from the few videos he posted. Not sure if he's doing the same way as NM, but he teaches non-straight bowing for several purposes, like smooth bow changes, and his "bow steering" exercises finally helped me gain an acceptable control over my sound point (holding it, as well as changing it) relatively quickly. Elizabeth, if you are familiar with SF's teaching, can you tell me if it's basically the approach you explained the day before? (Indeed it was a bit too complex for me to follow it completely, given that my English isn't much better than my violin playing...)

March 18, 2019, 10:25 AM · Fischer's technical approach is basically Galamian-style technique.
March 18, 2019, 11:22 AM · Which means, in difference? (I could only find this only one NM video, and not everything gets clear from that single angle of view. Besides that, as said, I'm not the most experienced guy in this field, so please excuse me bothering you with the maybe obvious...)
March 18, 2019, 11:24 AM · Funny how discussions can change directions... Sorry to Catherine for prolonging this hijacking! :-)
March 18, 2019, 11:28 AM · No problem, I'm learning from the discussion! Indeed, I just came back right now to get the full name of NM sp I can see if any of his work is on Spotify.
March 18, 2019, 2:10 PM · In regards to the earlier attempts to describe the pressed tone, it is indeed hard to put into words. I would say, it didn't sing, it wasn't open. I would call it heavy, but not in the way I would describe someone's tone as dark, like a nice sounding viola.

I suppose to say it is coming from one arm in particular wouldn't make sense, since the pressure from the bow and the vibrato work together. It was a while ago - Could it have been a heaviness and sameness of vibrato? Maybe too much pressure on the bow? Maybe a combination? Maybe I was in a bad mood? Maybe I'm not describing it correctly because I couldn't perceive where the issue came from?

Regarding Zuckerman, I heard him live a few years ago, and he had the most glorious, impossible, HUGE, radiant with laser beams shooting out tone I've ever heard. I had trouble fathoming it. But I've avoided seeing him again since he didn't seem to have much to say with it and he honestly seemed kind of bored. He may use a slow bow speed, but that is NOT what I mean when I describe a pressed tone.

March 18, 2019, 9:10 PM · Christian - did you see the masterclass video that Z did I think in China where he criticized the student's tone and the latter replied that that was all he could do on his awful violin. Z then took the violin and generated pretty much the same tone as on his own violin. Now that was the proof for me that its about the player...
[and maybe it doesn't matter too much if the topic goes off subject this late? If so then sorry!]
March 19, 2019, 10:40 AM · I haven't. There are quite a few on Youtube, but I'd be curious to check it out. I am inclined to think the same thing. I imagine most players at that level have a really specific sound in mind, and not getting something close to that sound would probably drive them nuts until they got it.
March 19, 2019, 11:36 AM · We all sound like ourselves no matter what we're playing. The level of effort to sound that way is different, though, and the instrument still does have limitations. I think it always comes back to feedback, though. A more sensitive instrument actually trains us to play better, and then we take that ability back to whatever other equipment we try.

On the other hand, bows are not like violins. You can find that a technique that is easy on a great bow can be a real problem on a lesser bow.


Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Metzler Violin Shop
Metzler Violin Shop

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Gliga Violins
Gliga Violins

ARIA International Summer Academy

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Pluhar Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings Ltd

Violin Lab

Violin Pros

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Subscribe