Friday, 27 February 2004

Watched the Monsaingeon video "Art of the Violin" (at Steve's house in Kentucky). Interesting and well worth watching. Montsaingeon's bias towards Menuhin and against Heifetz shows. Perlman proves to be a more interesting commentator than he is violinist. Pity there wasn't more on Kreisler. Milstein had a big chunk, but I thought the Brahms concerto excerpt showed him on autopilot again. The Oistrakh excerpts were better than expected; in fact, he came out of it well. And it was interesting to watch Kogan playing; as Hilary Hahn remarked, he looked so awkward and uncomfortable while playing. I didn't think too much of Ida Haendel's contribution. Thanks to Dave Gomberg for the loan of the videocassette.

Friday, 20 February 2004

This blog has been a little neglected of late. Trying times. However, much to my surprise, I have very much enjoyed a CD (from de Haas) of Vaclav Snitil (violin) and Josef Hala (piano) playing violin & piano pieces by Ferdinand Laub, Frantisek Ondricek, Otakar Sevcik, Jan Kubelik, Jaroslav Kocian, and Vasa Prihoda. An all-Czech treat! Found another similar CD on the web by the same duo, and will get it. Snitil is an efficient violinist, rather than a charismatic one. But it is nice to hear short pieces that aren't yet another Liebesleid, Banjo & Fiddle or Humoresque ! And good to hear efficient, Czech-style fiddling rather than something luscious and long-drawn-out from the heirs of the Russian school of violin playing. Snitil and his music will be regulars on my turntable. A very serendipitous addition to my collection.

Sunday, 8 February 2004

Well, finally I have heard the famous 1950s recordings of Emil Telmanyi playing the Bach unaccompanied suites and sonatas with the Vega “Bach Bow”. Copies of Testament transfers kindly sent by Dave Gomberg.

I had put off listening for some time; a Hungarian with a funny bow playing Bach in the 1950s did not somehow appeal. However, when it came down to it, I enjoyed the performances very much. There are pluses and minuses to the Vega Bow. On one hand, much of the harmonised writing with double stops is quite entrancing, and many of the chords sound distinctly enhanced. However, some of the fugal writing sounds strained (but this may also be the results of the inevitable strain on almost all violinists when playing the fugues). And the richochet passages in the Chaconne just do not come off as played by Telmanyi. Still, much comes off very well indeed, and there is an old world charm to Telmanyi’s playing that is a welcome respite from hot-shot young violinists striving to make their marks. An admirable two hours of enjoyable music making.

Finished the weekend with von Karajan’s 1950s Philharmonia recordings of Sibelius’s sixth symphony, plus Debussy’s La Mer. These two recordings have now been giving me much enjoyment for 48 years! Though not normally a lover of von Karajan’s music making, I make an exception for many of his 1950s recordings with the Philharmonia when he was more concerned with clarity and first class orchestral playing and less with smooth effects.