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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: violin

Jascha Heifetz Master Class: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

The internet never ceases to amaze me.  Getting to witness a master class of one of the greatest violinists of all time some 50 years after the fact is pretty remarkable.

Here is a master class in four parts that the great Jascha Heifetz gave at USC in 1962.  The intensity he portrays in this class reminds me of how he played the violin.

My favorite comment from the class: "You're playing it too safe."

Enjoy!


Leonidas Kavakos – Sibelius Violin Concerto: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

I had the privilege of seeing Leonidas Kavakos, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax perform an all-Brahms concert at Tanglewood earlier this month.  While I have been seeing Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax perform for over two decades this was only the second time I had seen Leonidas Kavakos in concert.  Last year, my wife and I were treated to him playing the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Mariss Jansons at the Kennedy Center.  We both instantly fell in love with his playing.

This week's clip his him performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in Tokyo with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev.  His phrasing is just stunning.

Oh, and by the way, Gergiev is conducting with a toothpick.  No, seriously.

Enjoy!

 

 

David Oistrakh - Sibelius Violin Concerto: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

The Sibelius Violin Concerto is one of the most intense concertos ever written for the violin.  I personally love how it wastes absolutely no time whatsoever getting down to business.  The soloist is thrust into incredibly technical passages in the first two minutes of the piece! I'm not sure I've ever heard it performed better than by David Oistrakh. Some consider Oistrakh to be the greatest violinist of all time and I don't see how you could have that conversation and not at the very least include him in it.  His playing speaks for itself.

This is a studio recording from 1959 with Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra and it is magical.

Enjoy!


Arthur Grumiaux: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Simply put, Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986) is one of the great artists of the 20th century.  My favorite aspects of Grumiaux's playing are his interpretations and the evenness of his tone.  Like all of the greats on every instrument, he gets the exact same tone on the shortest notes as he does on the longest ones. He's known in particular for his interpretations of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart amongst other composers.  There is a calm intensity behind every note that he plays which is inspiring.  This is a magnificent performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D.  It was performed at the Salle Pleyel in Paris in 1965.  He is accompanied by the Orchestre National de l'ORTF.

Enjoy!


Isaac Stern, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and the LSO: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

I could listen to these three gentlemen play Beethoven indefinitely and never tire of it.  The delicacy that Isaac Stern plays the violin with in this performance is unbelievable, even at the age of 72.  The soaring lyricism of Yo-Yo Ma on the cello is truly inspirational.  And the flow of Emanuel Ax's piano playing is as good as anyone in history. Beethoven is my favorite composer.  If I could only take one composer with me when everything is all said and done, it would be Beethoven.  The brilliant Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello ranks near the very top of my favorite compositions of all time.

(As a side note, imagine playing an instrument that was invented after your favorite composer had already passed away.  I will probably be in therapy for the rest of my life!)

The special thing about musicians who know each other's playing as well as Stern, Ma, and Ax do is that each performance sounds like a private musical conversation which all in attendance get the privilege of overhearing.  The amazing thing about technology is we all get to "attend" this concert 21 years later from our phones if we choose to!

Their communication both with each other and with the London Symphony is special in this clip.  This level of artistry inspires me to go practice every time.

Enjoy!


Hilary Hahn: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Last week, my wife and I had the privilege of seeing Hilary Hahn perform the Korngold Violin Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kennedy Center here in Washington.  What a stunning performance she gave! The orchestra, particularly Carol Jantsch, sounded great on Bruckner 7 but I felt that Hilary Hahn stole the show with her performance of the concerto on the first half. Her combination of lyricism and technical wizardry is an awesome combination.  This performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto, one of my favorite concertos, is her as a very young professional. Both her passionate lyricism and impressive technique are on clear display here. This clip features the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Lorin Maazel.

The shots of her playing the cadenzas with the violin section gazing on from behind her with astonishment are just great.  They knew that in spite of her age, they were in the midst of greatness.  Hilary Hahn is an amazing talent that every musician should try at all costs to see perform live.  She is special (and the orchestra sounds amazing as well!)

Enjoy!


Gil Shaham - Barber Violin Concerto: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

I don't know about you, but when I was 11 years old I sure as heck wasn't soling with the Israel Philharmonic.  Gil Shaham has been a staple of the violin world for so long that it seems impossible that he could only be in his early 40's. Samuel Barber has been one of my favorite composers since high school when I had the privilege of playing his First Symphony on a European tour with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (now BYSO) in 1992.  He is an amazing composer with a very unique voice.  My father was a fan of Barber's and introduced me to his music.  I remember thinking immediately that he seemed to have something to say as a composer.

My favorite part of this Shaham clip, aside from the phrasing and his amazing tone, is how much fun he is having on stage.  That is not always the case with many professional musicians and is a breath of fresh air.  He really seems to be enjoying the conversation he's having with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and we can all learn from that.

Enjoy!

Monday YouTube Fix: Jascha Heifetz

Andrew Hitz

I'll never forget the first time I heard Heifetz play the violin.  It was the summer of 1998 and I was in Breckenridge playing with the National Repertory Orchestra.   My friend John Grillo was in the bass section and he had a passion for sharing great music with others.  He asked me if I had ever heard Heifetz's recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas.  When I told him no his face lit up and he proceeded to put it on at a very loud volume. My mind was blown by the precision and insistence of interpretation that I was hearing.  Heifetz has been a favorite of mine ever since.  I just stumbled upon this clip of Heifetz in his late 60s playing the Chaconne from the Bach Partita No. 2 in D Minor.  Even late in life, his playing is simply impeccable.  He is able to get so much tone out of each sixteenth note.

Enjoy!

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q-Zqz7mNjQ]

 

Monday YouTube Fix: Time for Three

Andrew Hitz

Time for Three is one of the most original and unique sounding chamber ensembles playing today and I am very lucky to call them dear friends.  They are an inspiration to many of us for both their musical and entrepreneurial contributions to the field of music. Leonard Cohen is one of the greatest American songwriters to ever live.  This is a hauntingly beautiful rendition of his iconic 'Hallelujah.' When the music breathes, it breathes in perfect unison.  If you close your eyes and get lost in the music it is easy to forget that this is not one person making these sounds - it is that together.

Watching their communication is a master class on chamber music.  When people say there's no money in music I point to Time for Three.  Create a program that's this unique, this good, and approached with the same entrepreneurial spirit and you will make money every time.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_SZp_L3q4c&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Monday YouTube Fix: Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Mark O'Connor & Edgar Meyer

Andrew Hitz

I guess this clip is predictably awesome.  I don't care what these four musicians are playing, if they are playing together it is going to be special.  Even 'Hush Little Baby'! As people who are at the absolute top of their profession, all four of these guys are used to being the center of musical attention.  Yet in this clip, each one is both contributing and not even remotely over-stepping their role within the ensemble.  This is unheralded yet imperative quality in any musician.

This is such a simple version of an incredibly simple tune yet there is something very special about it.  Oh to have been in the audience for this performance.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GczSTQ2nv94]