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There's a great profile by Jeremy Eichler in this week's New Yorker of German violinist Christian Tetzlaff, whom I have mentioned in several posts here.
IMO, Tetzlaff is an antidote to the epidemic of young "babe" violinists and pianists (or their male equivalents) so often discussed here. When I actually listen to the babes rather than just look at them, many have great technique but are ultimately uninteresting (sorry, Chris!). Eichler distinguishes Tetzlaff from what I think of as the "Perlman school" of beautiful playing. And as great as Itzhak Perlman is, maybe his style has been too influential.
Eichler's article is an interesting read, and he discusses three 20th century violin concertos well worth knowing if you don't already: those of Berg, Schoenberg and Ligeti.
A bit unfair to Perlman, perhaps? Sure, he's not my favorite, but he's certainly more of a musician than he seems to be given credit for in the article. Not to mention the tonal variety we get in babe violinists such as Ibragimova or Batiashvili. I just don't agree with that characterization of other violinists.
I do approve of Tetzlaff's use of a modern violin - I haven't noticed it's given him a greater range of tone (as Eichler seems to imply), but OTOH, I haven't noticed that he suffers in comparison to other violinists in his tonal range either. Of course, the babes all have their Strads.
The whole article strikes me as just a bit of an attempt to pigeonhole and generalize in not always warranted ways. It seems to have an underlay of flattery for the type of listener/reader who likes to think of himself/herself as more discerning than average (i.e., the thinking listener who can hear beyond the Big Tone). I don't buy it.
One last thing: it's not as if babe violinists don't play the three concertos discussed in the article. Let's see, I have (or had) Hilary's recording of the Schoenberg, Steinbacher has a recording of the Berg (and I've also got an off-the-air performance of this with J-Fi), and Christina Åstrand has a recording of the Ligeti. OK, I admit maybe it's stretching things just a bit to call the latter a babe (EDIT: I of course mean Åstrand, not Ligeti!), but you get the idea! ;-)
I agree that Eichler's article has an undercurrent of the suggestion that it's hip, sophisticated and fashionable to like Tetzlaff, making it read at times a bit like a promotional piece for the literati, though you have to admit, even that aspect of it is well written. And I have always been a Tetzlaff fan, and don't need convincing from him.
I think you read too much into his reference to Perlman, which I don't think was meant to be disrespectful. I think all he meant is that Perlman (like other such iconic figures) is often too slavishly imitated, and I agree with that. Though maybe also there is the idea that it's hip to regard Perlman as passe, and I disagree with that.
And I think there is no question that the "babes" are often at their best in modern repertoire. Hilary Hahn certainly is.
Or maybe even two if you count Isabelle Faust as a babe. Do you know it?
Having grown up with the genial performance of the Mendelssohn by the combined Janacek and Smetana Quartets on a Westminster LP, I was somewhat shocked to hear this Tetzlaff-led performance. It just seemed so aggressive (and the higher than usual level of the recording just added to this impression). Over time, I've gotten used to it and even admire its high voltage and overt virtuosity - to the point now where I would highly recommend it. Not to mention: the Enescu Octet is worthwhile and interesting in itself.
I might get that one. I suspect you wouldn't have been shocked by its aggressiveness if you were accustomed to the Heifetz Primrose Piatigorsky et al. Mendelssohn Octet.
The Enescu Octet is often paired on recordings with his Dixtet for winds, which is also worthwhile.
And obviously, attractive women can be great musicians, my aside to you in my first post was a bit tongue in cheek.
"The whole article strikes me as just a bit of an attempt to pigeonhole and generalize in not always warranted ways. It seems to have an underlay of flattery for the type of listener/reader who likes to think of himself/herself as more discerning than average (i.e., the thinking listener who can hear beyond the Big Tone). I don't buy it."
You said it better than I could. It kind of reminds me of the mind set that anything that is popular is a sell out.
The few times I heard Christian Tetzlaff play, I was not impressed...... There is a clip on YouTube of him performing the Brahms Violin Concerto with Herbert Blomstedt and the NHK Symphony (link), a performance I call "choppy"....... (Although in fairness, the Brahms Violin Concerto is rarely performed well.)
The ultimate "anti-babe" violinist right now IMO is Joseph Lendvay. I think he's the best violinist as of right now.
Jeremy Eichler is the Boston Globe's classical music critic, succeeding the great Michael Steinberg and the almost-as-fine Richard Dyer. In the New Yorker he now competes with Boston/Harvard-educated Alex Ross, who's nearly unbeatable, one might have thought.
For what it's worth, I agree with Tetzlaff.
Anthony Tommasini of the NY Times is, alas, a New Yawka, but even he got his doctorate in music from Boston University. And he went to Yale, which is at least in New England. ;)
Jeremy Eichler is a very good writer and I'm glad to see his work in the New Yorker. He seems to be better than Alex Ross. I wouldn't put him on Andrew Porter's level, but Porter's just a Brit who doesn't come from Boston, so never mind him.
I completely disagree with it. I think it infers a false dichotomy. But there are definitely several schools of art that seem to think that way.
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