Notes and Editorial Reviews
SALVATORE ACCARDO: MASTERCLASS IN CREMONA, VOL. 2
Salvatore Accardo (vn)
DYNAMIC 33737 (DVD: 79:14)
The second in Dynamic’s series of masterclasses in Cremona features violinist Salvatore Accardo teaching what appears to be a lesson to Fabrizio Falasca on the first three movements of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata and a masterclass with Francesca Dego on the composer’s “Kreutzer” Sonata. Once again, the DVD offers stereo 48K LCPM and a choice of subtitles in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean (does this selection of languages
make obvious the market for which Dynamic intends this training tool?).
The lesson (at least, that’s what it appears to be) begins
in medias res
, with coaching in the first movement. Accardo examines Falasca’s playing in fine detail, stopping after what may seem to listeners to be every few measures. Many of his remarks, directed as in the first DVD of the series, to rhythmic detail, have the effect of sharpening the performance’s resolution and intensifying its effect. If listeners haven’t already heard the need for his suggestions, they will nonetheless seem to have been inevitable after he’s made them. He also tunes up many technical details, including articulation, bowings, and dynamics (in the accompaniment as well as in the solo part). This kind of meticulous mincing seems at least as interesting and as useful as his more general remarks in the second part, devoted to Pablo Sarasate’s
, of the first DVD. Falasca draws a thick, rich, and highly expressive tone from what appears to be a very modern violin with chipped spirit varnish. The recorded sound seems very similar to that in the first volume, miked close up in a room that makes the violins sound somewhat abrasive.
In the second movement, Accardo sheds light on the optimum articulation in the accompaniment figures, when the violin takes them, by reference to the wind parts in Beethoven’s symphonies. Unfortunately, sometimes he makes technical points with his back turned toward the camera and obscuring Falasca’s hands, so it’s impossible to see what he’s criticizing or suggesting. The scherzo poses coordination problems (as does even the first movement), and Falasca tends to lose control when he plays more loudly, so he begins by walking on eggs—and Accardo admonishes him not to do so. He suggests practicing in front of a mirror. As Accardo remarks, things that look easy can be the most difficult.
Roughly the second half of the program consists of a masterclass (the other students’ heads, including Falasca’s, can be seen on occasion dotting the surrounding wall) with Francesca Dego in the first movement of the “Kreutzer” Sonata. Compared to the more darkly expressive Falasca, Dego possesses almost ostentatiously quick reflexes and whips the bow from the violin dramatically at the ends of phrases. Still, her mannerisms seem truly violinistic, arising from the physical requirements each passage imposes, rather than merely theatrical and unrelated to what she’s doing with her two hands. As in the second portion of the first DVD, in this one both Accardo and his student exhibit plentiful unforced good humor. Dego has obviously worked on the movement with Accardo: She refers to “every time.” But even in this more general kind of class (Dego plays the entire movement through before Accardo speaks), there’s lots of very specific, pointed, advice after she’s finished. In this, for the first time, a listener could easily lose the general thread in such a maze of particulars.
Maria Grazia Bellocchio, whom listeners might remember from the first DVD, accompanies Falasca, while Francesca Leonardi, who makes remarks suggesting that she’s worked as a vocal coach, accompanies Dego. (Although Accardo’s obviously the dominant figure, it might have been interesting to have brief biographies of the class participants—here and in the first and future volumes, which I hope will appear nearly forever). Perhaps because of the inherent interest of these two monumental sonatas, perhaps because of the lyrical and dramatic playing of them by the two students, and because of Accardo’s illuminating remarks, this second installment may be greeted even more warmly by general listeners than the first volume; but however that may be, violinists should treasure it. Strongly recommended across the board.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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