Category Archives: Broad Horizons

Bach Partita No. 3: IV. Minuets I & II

If you’re in need of some beauty in your life – and I think if we’re honest we could all use a little more of it – I would recommend taking a listen to Julia Fischer’s Bach for solo violin.  Here I have selected the Minuets from the 3rd Partita in E Major, which are short, simple, and light-hearted.  But her complete catalogue is available on Spotify or even on YouTube.

Every concert violinist worth their salt records the unaccompanied Bach Sonatas & Partitas at least once – often many times – in their career, so there is no lack of listening options out there.  However, Fischer’s displays a depth, character, warmth, and resonance unique to her and I think is noteworthy among the others.  When she plays, it truly feels like Bach is living through his music to this day!

The Art of the Fugue

Tonight in group class, the Performance Ensemble got to spend some time working on a fugue – a particular musical form in which a theme is stated in one voice and then restated in other voices, inverted (played upside down), performed in retrograde (backwards), and given any number of other treatments.  To better understand this, we listened to a bit of The Art of the Fugue, by J.S. Bach.

The Art of the Fugue is one of the very highest examples of musical genius and compositional mastery in all of the classical repertoire, and as such is something every aspiring musician should experience.  I’ve provided two recordings here – one which follows the musical score, and highlights the theme as it’s stated and restated throughout the piece; and the other of the legendary Glenn Gould performing the piece, which is nothing less than a wonder to behold.

Broad Horizons: Brahms Violin Concerto

Gil Shaham has been one of my favorite living concert violinists for nearly a decade.  I first discovered him when I was studying the Barber Violin Concerto and relied heavily on his recording to help me learn the piece.  Since then, I have loosely followed his career, performances, and recordings.  What I love so much about him, in addition to his supreme technical ability and expressive musicality, is that whether he is playing or talking about the violin he always seems relaxed and truly joyful about his work.  He loves playing the violin!

So, today I wanted to share a recording of Gil Shaham rehearsing the Brahms Violin Concerto with Orchestra de Paris.  His facial expressions alone are worth watching!


Broad Horizons: Telemann Viola Concerto in G Major

Several of our students are working feverishly to prepare movements of the Telemann Viola Concerto for their recitals coming up this Saturday.  With that in mind, I wanted to share a video of our good friend Rose Armbrust Griffin playing said concerto.  Rose is quite an accomplished viola performer and teacher, and this is a cool recording of her playing with students from Midwest Young Artists (Kirby’s father’s music school on the North Shore of Chicago).  Take a listen, particularly all you viola students out there!

Broad Horizons is a publication of West County Strings, intended for the edification of students and their parents in the St. Louis community and beyond. 

Broad Horizons: The Sibelius Violin Concerto

For many years, the Violin Concerto in D Minor, op. 47 by Jean Sibelius has been one of my favorite selections from the violin concerto repertoire to listen to, study, and play.  As the piece begins, the violin solo floats and dances above an eerie fog created by the strings in the orchestra, darting this way and that and increasing in beauty and intensity until the first cadenza.  Simply marvelous.

I have almost always listened to Perlman’s recording of the piece, however I was recently introduced to a recording by Maxim Vengerov, which I wanted to share with you now.  His technique admittedly perplexes me (I’ve never seen someone hold their violin quite like him, or play with their bow shoulder so high), but clearly it’s working for him as he produces perhaps the most beautiful tone I’ve ever heard on this concerto.

So, here’s the video.  It’s definitely worth a watch, and I hope it helps expand your musical horizons!

Broad Horizons is a publication of West County Strings, intended for the edification of students and their parents in the St. Louis community and beyond.