celloblog

Celloblog2019-10-30T15:51:31+00:00

How to Find the Right Instrument: The Pitfalls of Cello Shopping

Whether you have the means to buy a modern (starting at € 25.000), an old Italian (starting at something like € 250.000 and up into the sky) or a nice elderly French, German or English (somewhere in between) instrument, you can drive yourself crazy in finding “the right one". Amateurs, students, and professional players face similar problems.   First we hardly ever get to try all the available instruments at the same time. We have to travel to see/try them in different acoustics under different circumstances. This makes it almost impossible to compare them as we rely entirely on our memory, which is awfully subjective and selective. On top of that every space has its own feel and sound, and most players (including the writer) feel different even with their [...]

By |November 27th, 2019|Categories: Featured, Performance|Tags: , , , |

Straight vs. Angled Bowing: A Visual Experiment

This past summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to study at the Bowdoin International Music Festival. One of the pieces that I brought to the festival was the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3. The main goal I had for the piece was to sound less “choppy” and play with a smoother legato sound. After trying everything I could think of to solve the problem on my own, I brought the issue to my teacher, Paul Katz, who like a skilled doctor immediately saw what the problem was and fixed it! The problem turned out to be that rather than keeping my bow straight, i.e., perpendicular to the strings, I bowed in a semicircle. As soon as I started to bow in a straight line, I was able to [...]

By |September 11th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, Teaching|Tags: , , , , , |

Not Enough

The long drive from Aspen gave me a chance to refine a bit what I said to my students there to end our last class: I have been almost as lucky as you can be in this business. I've had countless disappointments of course- some deserved, some not. That is the nature of the business. But I have a good job, a happy reputation, a balance between solo, chamber, orchestral playing and teaching, the good fortune to be friends and colleagues with some of the musicians I admire most in the world, and the respect of some of the peers that I care the most about. I've had the chance to travel, play concerts, enjoy the camaraderie and live some of the enviable life. I haven't had everything, but I've [...]

By |September 4th, 2019|Categories: Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , |

Remembering Anner Bylsma

I play early music on period instruments because of the great Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma, who passed away on July 25 at the age of 85.  When I was 14 I entered the classical music section of a Tower Records store where Bylsma’s recent release of arrangements of music for unaccompanied flute and violin by J.S. Bach, performed on his son’s 7/8ths-sized cello tuned like a violin, was being played.  I didn’t pay much attention to it until Bylsma hit the final note of the prelude to the E major Partita, BWV 1006. It ended a driven but, as I realized much later, subtly nuanced and very “spoken” performance. It seemed the energy stored by what had preceded the note was fully released by it: powerfully, beautifully, emphatically, and most [...]

By |August 28th, 2019|Categories: Performance|Tags: , , , |

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 34 – Feuillard No. 36 – Variations #39-42)

  This will be the final Blog in this series on using the Feuilliard "Daily Exercises" to teach bow technique.   Variations #39 and #40:         Variations #39 and #40 address chords over four strings. For #39 we have to use the full bow with the bottom two notes as grace notes. That means that they are played before the beat, with the top two notes on the beat. If playing with a piano, the pianist would probably play on the downbeat with the top of the chords. The string crossing is not too difficult at the frog, but playing the grace notes at the tip and then getting the main notes to sound strong is harder at the tip. I addressed two other important issues with [...]