I was pleased to discover Alisa Weilerstein illustrating one point lessons in her master classes with students from the Rudolfinium in Czech Republic. It’s really cool to see how much of a change can happen in even a few minutes of concentrated work.
For our first outside listening post of 2017, here are some good wishes in the form of Haydn C major concerto, 1st movement. Brendan Goh (you might remember him from here) plays this piece in an uncomplicated and straight-ahead manner, with an open and sweet sound. I hope the new year is just as simple and lovely for all of you.
I didn’t know about Laura Mvula until NPR Music introduced me to her–seems to be a recurring theme. The cello is not the star here, but nonetheless plays a simple and beautiful supporting role on these original ballads.
The Berlin Philharmonic is regarded as one of the world’s top orchestras, so it comes as no surprise that they would also possess a cello section of incredible talent and depth. The fact that the section has become its own critically-acclaimed ensemble is really quite unique. As for this combo of Faure’s Pavane sung by 12 cellos…pure gorgeousness. (Now if only they would release their arrangements).
On September 7 2015, Yo-Yo Ma delivered a performance of all 6 Bach Suites to an audience of 5,000 at the BBC Proms–no breaks, no intermission, nobody else on the program. You can hear the entire performance here, see it here, here, here, here & here, and read about it here.
As if performing 2+ hours of music weren’t enough of a feat of focus and stamina, he offered up this encore at the end. Awesome.
Besides possessing a totally enviable alliterative name, Mischa Maisky has an approach to Bach that makes me think of the creation of a Zen rock garden. His bow arm floats with absolute calm, his gestures are calculated yet still natural and visually appealing; everything is done with mindfulness, precision, and economy of motion. Like Bylsma and Gutman, he gives some cheeky nods to Baroque improvisation, while also incorporating romantic Rostropovich-like vibrato and straight-ahead time feels (he was a student of Rostropovich, after all). I’m sure Mischa’s rich and reverberant tone is helped by the surrounding acoustics, but let’s give credit where credit is due: the dude can ring with the best of them.
I was not familiar with Natalia Gutman until I saw this video, but I really enjoy the purity of her phrasing, the simplicity of her tone, and how she moves about the fingerboard with such a sense of assuredness. You’ll notice that she uses an endpin, but prefers a Baroque bow hold like Anner Bylsma. If we put all these Bach interpretations on a spectrum, in my mind she would fall between those of Anner and Mstislav Rostropovich: a more judicious use of vibrato than Rostropovich, somewhat faster tempi than Bylsma, and a sound that is, well, Gutman.