Absolutely on violin music, 3

But I now come to the (perhaps) most interesting part of these three blogs. As our last performances we played first the Intermezzo from the so-called FAE (Frei aber einsam) sonata, composed by Dietrich, Schumann and Brahms for their friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim:
“In Erwartung der Ankunft des verehrten und geliebten Freundes Joseph Joachim schrieben diese Sonate R.S., J.B., A.D.”, see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-A-E_Sonata
The part composed by Brahms is the most famous part of this sonata.

On youtube one can hear very different interpretations of this Intermezzo by Schumann. If I try Google for it, I get on top of the list Itzhak Perlman’s friend:

Neville Schaefer has a completely different view on it and thinks this is much too fast. At the other extreme is indeed the performance of Nana Jashvili, who takes an very slow tempo (her performance of the Intermezzo starts at about 10:50):

An intermediate position is taken by Isabelle Faust (one of my favourite violinists) and Alexander Melnikov:


Here is a version played by the violinist Niek Baar (who won the Dutch national violin competition “Oskar Back” 2018) and the pianist Ben Kim:

Here is the version of Neville Schaefer and myself:

Note that the violin has notes with “bellies”, where the tone becomes louder first and softer near the end. This is actually in my “Urtext” version, but I don’t for example hear it in Zukerman’s interpretation. This is an effect one can make with the bow on a violin, it can’t be made on a piano. Also note the rather different types of vibrato used by the violin players and the totally different character of the interpretations.

The last piece we played in Hasselt was: Pièce en forme de Habanera, a composition of Maurice Ravel. That we should play this was actually a suggestion of my violin coach Saskia Viersen (http://www.veranomusical.net/saskia-viersen-violin-2/) and I am very happy to have been made aware of this interesting piece in this way.

Ravel has the tempo (and mood) indication “Presque lent et avec indolence”.
As usual, I started listening to a very old recording for it by Ginette Neveu:

Note the very intense vibrato that can also be heard in Thibaud’s playing. The composition is originally an exercise for the voice, but it has been transcribed for many instruments; here is a very nice performance on the clarinet:

Note that the two glissandi at the end for the violin are played here on the clarinet by using scales.

I learned a lot from a performance by Gwendolyn Masin, where the piano is replaced by her own ensemble:

This is a performance I also like very much. Note the nice smile of Gwendolyn to her ensemble at the end. Here is the version of Neville Schaefer and myself:

For violinists: Gwendolyn Masin divides the triplet at the end into two notes on the A string and a note on the D string, from which she can slide back on the D string. A very good idea! I followed this (implicit) suggestion! The violin starts with three notes which have as basis an F, followed by an echo with the same figure. I play the first three on the E string and the second three (the echo) on the A string. Gwendolyn Masin plays this whole passage on one bow, which is also an interesting idea (but I don’t do it). One also has lots of choices in using open strings and flageolets or just avoiding this. In this version I choose the open strings and the flageolets, but one should not be dogmatic about these matters, I think. If one uses the flageolet, one should use (I think) the open string in the passage before which is a kind of reflection (“mirror reflection”) of this passage. And in this way there are many other interesting choices one can make, but I will stop here for now…

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