Tim Finholt, Editor
Our Cello Chat Board has found a new home, after a few moves. EZ Board generously donated space in their system, and we are delighted with the features now available. Try it out!.
We are now archiving on a weekly basis the discussions on the Cello Chat board. As you all know, the Cello Chat board is an incredible resource, representing the collective wisdom of many in our membership. Now the words of wisdom will not be lost.
Our new "Instruments and Equipment Chat Board," hosted by Todd French, is a real hit! In only a month, we have had over 5,000 visitors. Of course there are those who prefer to have only a single chat board, but we can't please everybody (Do you remember when people were clamoring for two boards?). If you have questions about your instrument, if you are researching makers for your next instrument purchase, or if you just want to follow along in the discussion, please visit this new board.
I was immediately struck by the first Baroque church I encountered in Rome. Though the facade incorporated elements of Classical Greek and Roman architecture, with the usual columns and pediment, the structure was played with such that one's eyes are drawn towards smaller details instead to the overall look of the building. This was accomplished in many ways, particularly by violating the sacred plane of the facade by curving the face inward and outward in an undulating series of smaller scale column and pediment combinations, all interwoven with a wiggling frieze and further embellished with statues. Truls Mørk is on to something.
When one listens to Anner Bylsma and Pieter Wispelwey play Bach, one hears this same delight in the details. I guess the question becomes, "How much 'delight' is appropriate?"
I want however to bring to your attention a rather dark point in your interview with Nathaniel Rosen. In the discussion on expressive intonation, Mr. Rosen shows such ignorance of the basics of tonality that he borders on musical imbecility. I feel that it does a great disservice to your beautiful effort.
>> I am one of the many cellists who have been searching for The Perfect String for some time. I am an orchestral player, though my heart leans much more toward chamber music playing and my favorite cello sound is mellow and velvety. For years I tried to get this sound (on a French instrument, to boot) by using thick forte strings and seemed always to get a strident edginess. Then a friend introduced me to gut strings and the idea of less tension and I installed four gut strings, including a bare gut A. There was a big improvement in openness and richness, but I always struggled to keep them in tune at work and had a hard time getting them to speak consistently. My latest attempt in to use four Pirastro Permanent soloist strings. The openness is there, but I am concerned about the A being too harsh and bright. The friend who is into low tension once said that this type of string can be harsh under the ear, but luscious from a distance.
>> I read the technique tip about sitting. I have my own opinion about this. You should sit straight up on a flat chair or piano bench. You should sit on your sitting bones (which you can find by sitting on your hands and bending forwards and backwards) with your back straight. You should sit straight up with your breast-bone forwards and your lower back straight. If you sit this way you can play for hours. This is how I sit to avoid back injuries. This method comes from a therapy called "mensendieck" and is based on relaxation and the way you sit and move.
Sander van Berkel
>> The first time I heard Greenhouse was at the Juilliard. My brother Eugene Weintraub was a conducting student studying with Stoessel. At a student concert my brother was chosen to conduct the Brahms Double. The cellist was Greenhouse and the violinist (I believe) was Freddy Dvonch who became a conductor of Broadway musicals. My recollection of this event, at least sound-wise, is not very vivid as it happened many years ago. Maybe Juilliard has something about this in their archives. Another conductor who participated in this concert was Robert Lawrence, who went on to conduct French operas. I think the greatest thrill for the audience was the conducting debut of the African-American conductor Dean Dixon. He ended the program with a rousing rendition of a Scriabin opus.
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by Tim Finholt
TF: Your parents were musicians. Were they professionals?
TM: Yes. My father was a cellist and my mother was a pianist. My mother began teaching me the piano when I was seven years old, but it didn't work out because my progress did not keep up with her great ambition for me.
A few years later, my parents thought that I should try the violin. My father convinced the violinist in his string quartet to teach me. Unfortunately, the violinist was out of town so often that I sometimes had to wait six months between lessons. Finally my father decided that I should play the cello and that he would teach me himself.
I was happy to play the cello because it was a large instrument, admittedly not the most profound of reasons. I also felt a certain affinity for the cello since my father played so beautifully; I knew how it was supposed to sound. I decided to start my lessons with the first Bach cello suite and Brahms E minor Sonata, even though there was no way I could really play them. This turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be, but, because I loved these pieces so much, I was willing to work very hard on them.
My father didn't want to push me too hard in my cello studies. I always had to ask him to give me a lesson. He used to say, "Don't practice too much. If you do, you will become a musician." When he sensed that I was becoming too insistent about how to play a certain passage, he would eventually intervene and would help me find other ways of thinking about it. He didn't want me to take music so seriously.
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But one huge window opened at the workshop in the person of a teacher who was willing to take me into an intensive one-on-one series of lessons, starting with the basics. In several months time I reached a level wherein basic classical cello literature was within reach.
It is my impression that many cello teachers favor the young, gifted player in the hopes of discovering the next virtuoso as well as for other reasons. It was refreshing to find a teacher who simply so loves what he does that his door is open to anyone willing to seriously pursue the instrument in a thorough and persistent fashion.
My cello teacher, Adam Gonzalez, is in youthful early middle age and lives in a lovely quiet home in Silver Spring, Maryland. My first recommendation concerning his teaching skills came from staff at Robinson Violin Shop in Albuquerque who referred to him as a gifted teacher. And after an hour with him at the string workshop I knew that I wanted the kind of quality time and information that he spontaneously gives his students.
Unique to his resources is the locale in which he lives and the fact that the lower level of his lovely home is set up as a private living space for his students. It is an ideal setup for an intensive pursuit of the cello, combined with all that the Washington, D.C., area has to offer on a cultural and historical level. Close to the Metro, all of D.C. is in easy reach.
My several months there were an adventure to talk about for years to come, and the cello has finally been secured a place in my later years after its close encounter with abandonment at the hands of discouragement. News from home (Silver City NM) indicates that an orchestra is being organized, so the timing of this adventure could not be more opportune.
by Tracie Price
This paper will examine the genesis and composition, as well as provide an analysis of the style, form and content, of one of Ernest Bloch's greatest masterworks, Schelomo. It will include a discussion of what elements constitute the characteristics of Bloch's Jewish Cycle and how these characteristics are manifested in the work.
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by "The Omnipotent Critic"
(The following does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Internet Cello Society or its representatives. It is the opinion of an individual ICS member.)
7243 5 45282 2 4
Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 125
Cello Concerto, Op. 66
Truls Mørk, cello
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Järvi, conductor
Total time: 72:02
This unique pairing of works is a must have CD for any cellist. For those of you who only read reviews to find out if you should buy a CD, then read no further. Buy it!! The cellist, orchestra, conductor, engineering, producing, sound, editing· all superb.
(Click here for the complete transcript)
The Elgar Society has created a rather detailed site devoted to the Elgar Cello Concerto. Included in this site is a movement by movement analysis of the concerto, the story behind its creation, a discussion of Jacqueline du Pré, and a guide to upcoming performances.
**Please notify Tim Finholt at email@example.com of interesting websites that you would like to nominate for this recognition in the future. Websites will be selected based on their content, cello relevance, creativity and presentation style!
Whether his interpretation was "correct" or "overly Romanticized" or whatever labels people place upon it was the least important thing in that concert. What was important was that this phenomenal musician was sharing what he has discovered in this music after a lifetime of studying it.
>>My one experience with the great William Pleeth was at the Piatigorsky Cello Seminar in Los Angeles in the early 80's. In his master class I played the Schumann "Fantasy Pieces". He stood in the back of the room, his endpin out all the way, and played standing up. He produced a great tone!! Over the course of 40 or so minutes, he had me playing far beyond what I thought I could do. He was all about phrasing, a beautiful big rich tone, and demanded that every note have a purpose. It was a fantastic and permanent experience. May he rest in Peace.
>>Regarding Brinton Smith's Feuermann Thesis: Thanks to Mr. Smith for the fascinating dissertation on Feuermann. I have so far only read the comparison of recordings chapter and my mind was drawn to a few issues which are not central to this dissertation but I thought might be worth some discussion.
First, I was a little bit surprised by the relative tempi of Piatigorsky's recording. In her book, "The Great Cellists", Margaret Campbell refers to Piatigorsky as something like the last of the great romantics. Based on his tempi, however, I thought it might be appropriate to refer to him as "the first slow guy", or something like that. Regardless of whether modern (slower) tempi are better or worse than those of Feuermann, it would seem that Piatigorsky was way ahead of his time in this regard. Perhaps one can judge from this that he was more influential than Fournier and Starker as teachers.
Secondly, despite his obvious attempts to remain unbiased (stressed in numerous declarations of objectivity) I felt that Mr. Smith's writing style tended to favor the approach of Feuermann rather than recognizing the strengths of the other famous recordings. Of course, it is a dissertation about Feuermann so, fair enough. But the question in my mind was why would Rostropovich (and the others) play that slower? Why would they use 'inconsistent' vibrato? It occurred to me that this might have more to do with current aesthetic trends in singing than ignorance of cello technique. Most notably, the recordings of Fisher-Dieskau emphasise forward motion and consistent tone within phrases and note to note, less than some older recordings. In my ignorant younger days, I thought these recordings were incoherent and inconsistent, but more and more I realize that these features result from a far deeper understanding of the music than other singers.
Without venturing to say that Feuermann did not understand Dvorak, could I perhaps suggest that some "inconsistencies" in later performances might be intended? Of course there are no words to Dvorak, so we can never be so sure of the exact meaning of each and every note, but that doesn't mean we should all play each note in the same way. The strength of Fisher-Dieskau over other singers is partly due to his much wider range of phrase shape. Perhaps the world's cello technique is not up to the level of his vocal technique so no one can do the same thing so convincingly... yet. But perhaps there are people trying.
I am sure many people will also be happy to notice that Schiff's recording is in the faster tempo bracket. Considering he is one of the more important teachers at the moment, perhaps he is encouraging his students to play more like Feuermann.
Brinton Smith replies: You are of course right about my personal preference for Feuermann. But while my own views are strong, and do sometimes inevitably influence the writing, I tried to present first mainly verifiable facts about the recordings, leaving my interpretation for the conclusion. Others may use these facts to draw different conclusions, as you have, but that is fine with me. I just wanted to lay down the groundwork so that we can have a accurate discussion of fact as a starting point.
A lot of the 'inconsistencies' of Rostropovich, Ma, etc. are indeed intended, I believe. The point is perhaps that these performers have chosen a much more 'small detail' oriented approach, which is the trend in all sides of musical interpretation these days. The differences between Rostropovich and Ma vs. Feuermann and Casals could be found in comparing most modern conductors to Toscanini, modern violinists to Heifetz, modern pianists to Horowitz, modern singers to Caruso etc. (Broad generalizations, but you know what I mean, I hope...)
The question for each of us is, 'Is this the direction we want?' And we may not all come to the same conclusion. To whatever extent the work that I did may be useful to anyone else in making his or her own decisions, I'm happy to provide it. Thanks for the interest.
>>I recently bought a set of Eudoxa and put them on my cello. So far, no problem. I like the sound very much and I'm getting used to tuning them quite precisely only with the pegs. OK, I know that gut strings go out of tune easily, but how much? In my case, they lose one semi-tone to one tone in 15 minutes, which makes the whole thing impossible to play on. Though, once again, they work very fine on my cello once tuned. I've checked the pegs and the tailpiece and everything seems to be OK with them: the pegs don't slip.
Do new gut strings need a settling in period, where they would experience a kind of initial stretch, assuming that they show a more stable behavior after that?
Mike replies: Yes, they do. When I put my Pirastro Gold Labels on, I was disappointed too. They too kept stretching and sounded dull and dead. However, after a week or so, they opened up to a really rich, warm sound. I can't imagine having anything else down there (G and C). Have fun with them!
Todd replies: I experienced a "settling in" period of at least a few days when I used a Eudoxa Olive G string for many years. Also, whenever I was on stage, it would undoubtedly change tone approximately a 1/4 step, either sharp or flat. They will eventually be slightly more stable, but never anywhere near as stable as steel and chrome-steel core strings. If you think these gut core strings are bad, try keeping 5 pure gut strings in tune on a 5-string violoncello piccolo! I have to tune after nearly each piece!
1. New book on Rostropovich
A new book has been published on Mstislav Rostropovich, called "Rostrospektive," by Dr. Alexander Ivashkn and Dr. Josef Oehrlein. Two extended essays are complimented by more than 70 plates that record the most important stages of his career. This book is being sold through The Strad, and perhaps other sources. The book costs about $30.
2. New Cello Handbook
A new book, "Handbook for Cello Students: Music Theory and Other Facts" has been published by Phyllis Luckman. This book is an excellent resource for pre-college students and adult amateurs, and is more like an encyclopedia of cello and music fundamentals. It offers information of all sorts, ranging from the rudiments of music notation, pitch theory, basic cello technique, music theory, and musical structures. For more information, write to CelloHandbook@support.net. The book costs $33 plus tax and shipping:
3. New Cello Concerto
Cellist and composer Ethan Winer has written a very enjoyable romantic cello concerto. His goal was to write a musically satisfying piece that does not require a world class technique. Congratulations, Mr. Winer! http://www.ethanwiner.com/cello.html
4. Steven Isserlis' "Cello World"
Faber Music http://www.fabermusic.co.uk/sales.htm is the publisher of Steven Isserlis's recently published "Cello World." The book is a collection of Steven's encores -- a mixture of original works and arrangements from his repertoire. All of the pieces in the book are recorded by Isserlis with Thomas Ads (piano) on the BMG recording "Cello World" 09026 68928 2.
5. Looking for former Lazlo Varga students and colleagues
In preparation for an upcoming celebration of Lazlo Varga's 75th birthday, Barbara Hedlund is trying to find his former students and colleagues. A cello ensemble tribute concert will be held at the Moore's School of Music at the University of Houston sometime this year. If you are interested, please send an e-mail to VCELLO1@aol.com.
6. Cellos Tango in Paris
Cellists from all over the world gathered in Beauvais May 1-10 for the Seventh "Rencontres d'Ensembles de Violoncelles." The French festival presents concerts, recitals, and masterclasses featuring the cello. This year tango was an important element with visiting cellists from Buenos Aires.
Mark Votapek has been appointed associate principal cellist of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, effective September 1999.
8. RNCM Festival Delayed
The seventh RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival will take place May 2-6, 2001, not in 2000 as previously planned. Organizers deferred the date largely because of the World Cello Congress, taking place in Baltimore, USA, in May 2000, and the large number musical events planned for the millenium.
18-year-old cellist Julie Albers, a student of Richard Aaron, won the Grand Prize in the XIII Concours International de Jeunes Concertistes, held in Douai, France.
Danjulo Ishizaka (Germany), a student of Boris Pergamenschikow, won first prize in Poland's Witold Lutoslawski International Cello Competition. Second prize was won by Dominik Polonski (Poland) and third prize went to Noll Park (Korea).
The 1999 Sphinx Competition for African-American and Latino string players, held in Michian, USA, was won by 22-year-old cellist Tahira Whittington, a student of Joel Krosnick. Thirteen-year-old cellist Samuel Johnson, a student of Ben Gish, was the junior winner.
10. Shafran Memorial Fund
British cellist Steven Isserlis has launched a memorial fund to raise money for a gravestone for Russian cellist, Daniil Shafran, who died in 1997. The estimated cost is $4,000. Contributions (preferably in sterling) should be made payable to "The Daniil Shafran Memorial Fund," and sent to:
"The Daniil Shafran Memorial Fund"
Barclays Bank, PO Box 961, 128 Moorgate, London EC2M 6SX, UK.
Bank Account No: 70035645, sort code 20.32.00
c/o Harrison Parrot Ltd.
11. World Cello Congress Composition Contest
The World Cello Congress III will be awarding a $5,000 prize in its International Composer's Competition. The winning composition will be played by a cello ensemble of more than 200 players on June 3, 2000, at the conclusion of the Congress. Compositions must be received by November 1, 1999. See http://www.towson.edu/~breazeal/cello.htm for more information.
12. Starker Celebration
Indiana University School of Music and the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center cordially invite all cellists to participate in a gala event September 14, 1999 honoring Janos Starker on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The celebration's main events will include a concert featuring Janos Starker, William Preucil, Jr., Gary Hoffman, Maria Kliegel, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and Mstislav Rostropovich conducting the Indiana University Philharmonic Orchestra. A mass cello-ensemble will crown the festivities and every one is encouraged to participate.
Executive Vice President Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center
Indiana University School of Music
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Office: (812) 855-6644
Fax: (812) 855-4936
Starker Cello Class
The Indiana University School of Music will be presenting the Janos Starker Cello Class from July 15 - 18, 1999. This class is open to professional cellists, established ensembles, students, teachers, and advanced amateurs. Chamber groups (more than two players) will receive a tuition discount. Pianists (for duos) do not have to register or pay tuition. The class covers all periods for cello and ensembles with cello. Auditors are welcome in the class. Practice facilities will be available for performers. Qualified pre-college cellists will be accepted; however, dormitory housing is not available for participants under 21. Pre-college participants should be accompanied by a parent or special arrangements should be made for housing and general welfare. For more information contact: Office of Special Programs, Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington, IN 47405. Phone: 812-855-1814 Fax: 812-855-9847 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshops at Summer Keys
The Cello Workshop at SummerKeys opened its doors in 1995, utilizing the same basic precept as the original piano program: an intensive practice/study vacation for busy adults (who rarely have this kind of time to devote to their instrument during the rest of the year) in a breathtakingly beautiful setting, with half of each day available for sightseeing. August 23 - 27; August 30 - September 3, 1999 http://www.nemaine.com/summerkeys/cello.htm
And in 2000:
World Cello Congress III
Baltimore, Maryland May 28 - June 4, 2000. 53 events, including concerts, recitals, masterclasses, seminars, and exhibitions. Publicity is out now, and you can join their mailing list by writing to World Cello Congress III, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21252-0001. http://www.towson.edu/~breazeal/cello.htm
For those who really like to plan ahead:
Manchester International Cello Festival
Please note that the Manchester (U.K.) International Cello Festival scheduled for May 2000 has been postponed. New dates: 2-6 May 2001.
Leonard Rose International Cello Competition and Festival
College Park, Maryland July 19-28, 2001. http://www.inform.umd.edu/rossboroughfestival/rose
** If you know of any other cello events happening around the world,
please send word to Roberta Rominger,email@example.com **
2. Cellist Jonas Tauber's website
3. Vancouver Cello Club
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