Notes and Editorial Reviews
SALVATORE ACCARDO: MASTERCLASS IN CREMONA, VOL. 1 • Salvatore Accardo (vn) • DYNAMIC 33693 (DVD: 71:41)
The first volume of what will apparently be a series of presentations by violinist Salvatore Accardo in the Accademia Walter Stauffer, Cremona, includes two “masterclasses” or, perhaps, lessons. In the first of these, Accardo guides Laura Marzadori (accompanied by Maria Grazia Bellocchio) through the first movement and finale of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 3. What’s the difference between a lesson and a masterclass? In this case, there’s no
audience (except for the camera) and therefore no other students to carry away lessons from the proceedings. Creating the impression of a “masterclass,” however, Accardo sits through the whole first movement of the sonata before finally interjecting himself. The camera crew focuses on him for some of this time, perhaps considering his occasional nods of the head more interesting than anything the violinist or pianist might be doing. Then he checks spots (Ruggiero Ricci would comment every few measures, but eventually allow a student the opportunity to get through the whole movement, while Isaac Stern might stop a student after a few phrases, give some advice, probably more effective for his presence than for its wisdom, then, after showing that the student has been transformed by the suggestion, call for another student). Accardo’s observations might be too technical (concerning bowings) for non-violinists and his terminology unfamiliar, but at the same time too loose for violinists (he seems—or, at least, his translator seems—to refer to every off-the-string bowing as sautillé). Nevertheless, there’s general musical advice, as well; and he addresses Marzadori’s pervasive secco. He also continually traces connections between bowing techniques and dynamics, and insists on rhythmic steadiness (one of Ricci’s obsessions). Marzadori and Bellocchio have been miked close up, and the room’s ambiance makes the violin sound very abrasive, indeed—even tubby and, in the lower registers, unresponsive. That leaves an overwhelming impression of brittleness; but Accardo doesn’t seem to feel the need to address this weakness. Rather, he continually remarks that what she’s doing sounds “excellent,” “beautiful,” “very good,” and so forth—leaving the question of whether an audience might feel so generous. In the third movement, Accardo interrupts almost at once. But, despite the lack of continuity this causes, she brings the movement to a powerful conclusion in the close’s fugato; and she seems to have required no advice to find her way in it.
Masterclasses can serve to impart general advice, specific advice that’s useful for all auditors, or just specific advice for the performer (more in the manner of a lesson). While much of the first section may seem to fall into the third category, non-violinists may still find it interesting to follow.
In the second section, Accardo works with Lucia Luque, a violinist with a bubbly personality—musical as well as non-musical—on Pablo Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy. Once again, as in the Beethoven sonata, the ambiance makes all the violins (including Accardo’s) sound abrasive and tonally rough-hewn. As in the third movement of Beethoven’s sonata, discussion begins almost at once, with comments on sharpening rhythmic articulation, which results in enhanced Spanish flavor. Some of the discussion takes a purely musical form, with teacher and student tossing a phrase back and forth. Paradoxically, the more intimately he interacts with the violinist, the more deeply his teaching can influence listeners. His suggestion for employing more rhythmic fingerings in scale-wise passages should be illuminating for violinists and make sense to non-violinists as well. Overall, the effervescent Luque plays with heavy bow pressure, producing a gargantuan tone very different from Sarasate’s as we can hear it in primitive recordings from 1904 (there’s an earlier one of Zigeunerweisen from 1898). Accardo catches her moving her head rhythmically, which disturbs the evenness of her bowing—a valuable lesson for her (and perhaps others), which she might have been able to draw from watching herself in a mirror or videotape. This lesson cuts off mid-stream.
The opening of the program shows Accardo warming up, with out-of-tune passagework that doesn’t serve his reputation well. (For what it’s worth, he’s now 71 years old.) The disc offers 48K stereo LCPM sound and subtitles in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Whatever it might be, lesson or masterclass, or anything else, it’s intensely interesting and should provide an enjoyable and instructive hour for almost everybody. Strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Audio: PCM 2.0
Format: NTSC 16:9
Duration: 72 minutes
Region: 0 (All)
Subtitles: English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean Read less
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