Archive for March, 2007

Bay Area, California

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

This last week, I have spent a very memorable, enjoyable week in California’s Bay Area, playing with the Diablo Symphony and Maestra Joyce Johnson-Hamilton.  It was an entirely pleasant week, as I stayed with my “West Coast family”, Nora and Ron.  Their hospitality, warm personalities, and love for good food and culture have made every stay with them (I believe this is the third?) delightful.  The concerts were wonderful as well–I felt that the orchestra and I grew closer over the course of the week, and Maestra was extremely easy to work with.  The Scottish Fantasy went well, followed by Salut D’Amour as an encore, and I hope we can collaborate again.

Nonmusically speaking, it was a productive week as well!  :)  The restaurants and shopping are to die for–we simply don’t have this caliber of food in the Midwest.  We went down to the Golden Gate Bridge, and viewed the San Francisco skyline (quite impressive) from the Marin Headlands.  Interestingly enough, we were meandering through San Francisco when we came across Nancy Pilosi’s house (Speaker of the House, for those living under a rock), with many protestors camped outside (with cheap takeout Chinese, I might add).  I picked up some gifts for friends, and went on an afternoon walk in the 85-degree weather, exploring the suburbs.  Sunday-Friday had ideal weather, with the first blossoms blooming, not a cloud in the sky, and seasonal depression nonexistent.  In addition, I visited my favorite salon anywhere–La Moda, in Walnut Creek, with the characterful Saundra (a Romanian woman who has just recently been declared cancer-free after a harrowing time).  Only my third time that she has worked her magic on me, Saundra is always a highlight of a California trip.  Finally, after my last concert with the Symphony and a dinner hosted by Nora and Ron, my manager and I went for desserts/drinks with a record producer friend, and proceeded to laugh and share stories late into the night.  It was a wonderful conclusion to a memorable week!  Now, returning to the snowbelt and freezing temperatures will be quite a shock!  Brahms Concerto in Bowling Green, Ohio…see you there!  :)

Outstanding Recordings That Everyone Should Have :)

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

This blog is dedicated to several recordings that have inspired, challenged, and moved me, and may include genres other than classical  :)

Anne-Sophie Mutter;  Kurt Masur;  New York Philharmonic

Brahms Violin Concerto

By far my most listened-to recording since 1997, Frau Mutter gets it exactly right in her sense of timing, drama, projection, and emotional involvement.

Julia Fischer

J.S. Bach “Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo”

My good friend Julia recorded these monumental works at 21, and in a world of imitative, unresearched performances, this confidently recorded CD remains faithful to Bach’s manuscript while taking the listener on a cohesive journey through Bach’s solo works.

David Oistrakh;  Lev Oborin

Beethoven Sonatas for Piano and Violin

Oistrakh recorded these works without pretense or ego, and the simplicity combined with impassioned musicianship warrant many listening sessions.

Linda Eder

“Broadway:  My Way”

The extraordinary Broadway powerhouse Linda Eder delivers a CD of ballads, and her balls-to-the-wall projection is astonishing.  Such vocal command in this genre I’ve never heard.

Jacqueline DuPre;  Daniel Barenboim;  Philadelphia Orchestra

Elgar Cello Concerto

This recording, made after DuPre had been diagnosed with MS, is a testament to her immortality as a cellist.  Made live in Philadelphia with her husband, this was one of her rare concerts after learning of the disease, and fully encapsules the size and scope of the Elgar cello concerto to a tee.  Warning:  a  potentially tear-jerking performance.

Anne-Sophie Mutter;  Herbert von Karajan;  Berlin Philharmonic

Beethoven Violin Concerto

This recording, made when Mutter was 17, is simply a marvel.  She fully appears to understand Beethoven’s writing, the violin’s accompanying arpeggiations under the orchestra, and though the tempi are on the slow side, the work takes on a certain majesty and reverence that most recordings miss.

Martha Argerich

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in d minor

With her technical prowess, stunning musicianship, and fully committed playing…enough said!

Christoph von Dohnanyi;  Cleveland Orchestra

Beethoven Symphonies No. 5 and 7

The Cleveland Orchestra under Maestro Dohnanyi was quite simply the cleanest orchestra on the planet.  Lines emerge with a lucidity and directness that I have never heard since.  Immaculate strings, memorable winds, and outstanding chemistry characterize this recording.


Climbing Everest, violin-wise…

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

This month marks the first month that I play Brahms Violin Concerto with orchestra.  I am approaching the dates with many mixed emotions–trepidation, excitement, and everything in between.  After reading about the creation of the piece to what was happening in Brahms’ life at the time, I feel as though I have accumulated a greater knowledge of the background, but still something was missing.  In playing for Midori Goto, she always spoke about channeling life experiences and internal passion through every note–this brings us to a different subject entirely!  How do life experiences affect the performance?  Is someone who experienced tragedy and hardship as a child going to approach the masterworks differently?  Only a pyschologist can answer that.  Channeling experiences from my 21 years is something I have been striving for recently–and it works differently in works such as Brahms and Beethoven versus Bruch and Vieuxtemps.  In working through the concerto with the conductor, I cemented ideas, became more confident in my approach, and it certainly furthered my understanding of how the violin lines fit in with the orchestra.  Comparable to the Beethoven concerto, the Brahms designates the violin as accompanimental for much of the work, and that sense of chamber music and intertwining with the orchestra is exhilarating!

What’s left to do??  Practice!

This month marks the first month that I play Brahms Violin Concerto with orchestra.  I am approaching the dates with many mixed emotions–trepidation, excitement, and everything in between.  After reading about the creation of the piece to what was happening in Brahms’ life at the time, I feel as though I have accumulated a greater knowledge of the background, but still something was missing.  In playing for Midori Goto, she always spoke about channeling life experiences and internal passion through every note–this brings us to a different subject entirely!  How do life experiences affect the performance?  Is someone who experienced tragedy and hardship as a child going to approach the masterworks differently?  Only a pyschologist can answer that.  Channeling experiences from my 21 years is something I have been striving for recently–and it works differently in works such as Brahms and Beethoven versus Bruch and Vieuxtemps.  In working through the concerto with the conductor, I cemented ideas, became more confident in my approach, and it certainly furthered my understanding of how the violin lines fit in with the orchestra.  Comparable to the Beethoven concerto, the Brahms designates the violin as accompanimental for much of the work, and that sense of chamber music and intertwining with the orchestra is exhilarating!

What’s left to do??  Practice!