Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tasmin Little

Tasmin Little is an English violinist born on May 13, 1965 (Perlman was 19 years old.) She is known for her violin-music project known as “The Naked Violin.” Little studied in London with Pauline Scott at the Yehudi Menuhin School and at the Guildhall School of Music though she studied in Canada as well. Her debut came in 1988 with the Halle Orchestra. She has been concertizing around the world since then but has only recorded a small portion of the standard repertoire. Still missing from her discography are the concertos of Bach, Mozart, Paganini, Beethoven, Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps, Saint Saenz, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky. Little has had the distinction of appearing at the popular BBC Proms (London) concerts fifteen times. She plays a 1757 Guadagnini and the 1708 Regent Stradivarius.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Louis Kaufman

Louis Kaufman was an American violinist born on May 10, 1905 (Heifetz was four years old.) He was probably the most recorded violinist of all time, though Heifetz and Ricci can claim the same thing. He played for the soundtracks on as many as 500 movies and also made 125 recordings on 30 different labels. It has been said that his tone was similar to Heifetz’. Kaufman began to study at Juilliard with Franz Kneisel at age 13. His solo debut took place at Town Hall in 1928 and was very successful. He played viola in the Musical Art Quartet for seven years (1926-1933.) Among his chamber music colleagues were Jascha Heifetz, Pablo Casals, Mischa Elman, Fritz Kreisler, and Efrem Zimbalist. His 1947 recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons brought Vivaldi’s music to the general public’s attention, though violinist Olga Rudge (Ezra Pound’s mistress) is given credit for rediscovering Vivaldi in Italy, just as Mendelssohn is credited with rediscovering Bach’s music. (Alfredo Campoli is credited with the first recording of the Four Seasons - in 1939 from a radio broadcast - and Bernardo Molinari with the second - in 1942.) A YouTube post of Kaufman playing the third concerto of Camille Saint Saens is available here.  If Heifetz had recorded the Saint Saens concerto, it might have sounded something like that.  Kaufman also championed the works of many contemporary composers, Francis Poulenc and Darius Milhaud among them.  Even while he worked for the movie studios, he concertized around the world.  Among the hundreds of movie soundtracks his violin is heard in are Casablanca, The Grapes of Wrath, Cleopatra, and Gone With The Wind. Kaufman was also the first to record Samuel Barber’s violin concerto. His autobiography, published in 2003, is titled A Fiddler’s Tale. Kaufman died on February 9, 1994, at age 88.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Las Cruces Symphony

We play the last subscription concert of the season tonight and repeat it tomorrow afternoon. The orchestra will sound well - it almost always does. The program includes the Pines of Rome, The Moldau, and the Rococo Variations for cello. Our soloist is the new Principal Cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra - Mark Kosower. The concerts are sold out and the only way anyone can get a ticket is if someone who has one turns it in if they aren't using it. Obviously, I can't review the concert objectively since I'm playing in the orchestra. And, you can't witness it via the internet since we don't have a set up like the Berlin Philharmonic has - the popular Digital Concert Hall. Maestro Lonnie Klein will be conducting and take my word, he will do a great job with the orchestra and the players will do very well.