Daily thoughts/offcuts

Posted on September 16th, 2020 by

I will post here any of my responses to things on social media, which I think might be of small interest. I won’t include any information about those to whom I am responding, but maybe, some context!

16-09-2020: In response to someone posting about the baroque violin inveighing against ‘incorrect’ tuning, lack of vibrato, and string playing that sounded like ‘vinegar’:

I play ‘modern’, ‘baroque’, ‘classical’ violins, violas and bows. As I give so many concerts alone, I can pick whatever A I like. First off A-440 is a construct, and across Europe I will find modern pianos and orchestras playing up to A-445. A-442 is very common in London. I tend to use a low-ish A for ‘modern’ work. Playing early music I tend to go all over the shop – ironically, I tend to avoid 415 – my ear gravitates to 416 (and yes, I have been eviscerated in print for that). For certain composers, such as Tobias Hume, I have found that the violin tuned very very low, works really beautifully at say 390). Vibrato is never a given, in any musics, and as any cook will know, a full range of flavours is necessary in the kitchen – without vinegar, or its equivalent, we would be the poorer. If you line up the great colourists of the bow – I might choose Neveu, Savall, Kagan, Zukovsky, Krasner, Stuff Smith (just for now, with this cup of coffee) you will find every possible approach to colour, to flavour, and taste will be excited, charmed, infuriated and inflamed in every direction. And that is a good thing. If we all agreed, then it would be a poor world. Here’s Schumann, on hearing Paganini for the first time: ‘ ‘I expected him to begin with a tone as had never been heard before, but with how small, how thin a tone did he begin!’