Elizabeth Wallfisch (Elizabeth Coates Hunt Wallfisch) is an Australian violinist, teacher, author, and conductor born (in Melbourne, Australia) on January 28, 1952. The greater part of her career has been spent outside of Australia. Together with Simon Standage, Fabio Biondi, Andrew Manze, Giuliano Carmignola, Rachel Podger, and Enrico Onofri, she is one of the better-known proponents of historical baroque performance practice, a movement which started in the mid-1970s. Nevertheless, besides playing on baroque (period) violins, Wallfisch also gives concerts on modern instruments. (The photo shows her holding a baroque violin.) One of her many recordings is the one featuring the rarely-heard Rosary Sonatas by Heinrich Biber. Another is the Opus 3 concertos (published in 1733) by Pietro Locatelli. Although she began studying piano at age 4, she did not begin violin lessons until age 10, a rather late age at which to start by traditional standards. I do not know who her first violin teachers were. At 18, she moved to Germany then proceeded to London where she studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Frederick Grinke. At about age 23, her professional career began in England with the London Mozart Players and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Up to about her mid-twenties, her education had been entirely founded on traditional modern performance techniques on modern violins. Her switch to baroque (historical) approaches took place almost by accident. Among the many ensembles she has led and performed with are the Hanover Band, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Les Musiciens Du Louvre, the Raglan Baroque Players, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tafelmusik, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, and the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. In 1989, she co-founded the Locatelli Trio. In 2008, she founded the Wallfisch Band, a baroque ensemble that allows for apprenticeships for young players alongside the core orchestra members – personnel changes are made on an on-going basis. Wallfisch has held teaching positions at the Royal Academy of Music (London), the Royal Conservatory at The Hague, and at the University of Melbourne. She has been concertmaster at the Carmel Bach Festival (California, U.S.) for over twenty years. Among the recording labels featuring her are Virgin Classics, Hyperion, and Chandos - they are easy to find on the internet. As far as I could determine, Wallfisch plays a violin by Petrus Paulus (Pietro Paolo) de Vitor (of Brescia) from about 1750. Here is one YouTube audio file of Wallfisch playing several Bach concertos. Here is a short video by the Wallfisch Band playing Telemann.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Sayaka Shoji is a Japanese violinist born (in Tokyo) on January 30, 1983. She gained considerable attention after winning the Paganini Violin Competition at age 16 (in 1999), the youngest competitor to ever do so and the first Japanese violinist to win the gold medal at that competition as well. Although she spent her very early childhood in Italy, she began her violin studies in Japan, at age 5. Among her first teachers (in Tokyo) were Kazuko Yatani and Reiko Kaminishi. At 15, she moved to Germany for further study. At 21, she graduated from the Advanced School for Music in Cologne where her main teacher was Zakhar Bron, although she also studied with Uto Ughi and Shlomo Mintz, among others. (Bron’s other famous pupils have been Maxim Vengerov, Daniel Hope, Mayuko Kamio, and Vadim Repin.) Needless to say, Shoji has performed with every major orchestra and most of the world’s illustrious conductors. Her first appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic was at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 2002, playing Bruch’s first concerto. Mariss Jansons was on the podium. She first appeared with the New York Philharmonic on October 7, 2004 playing the first Prokofiev concerto under the baton of the late Lorin Maazel. She was 21 years old. Her repertoire includes three works seldom heard in concert: the Schumann, the Mendelssohn (in d minor), and the Max Reger concertos. As far as I know, Shoji has already recorded the Reger concerto but not yet the Schumann or Mendelssohn’s first concerto. Typical reviews from informed, respected, and experienced music critics read as follows:”…virtuosity of the highest order, …infused with poetry, …passionate, free, with an emotional intensity that many violinists will never achieve.” Her spectacular rendition of the Brahms concerto can be seen and heard here. In my opinion, the only performance which rivals it is the Heifetz rendition, and that, for me, is saying a lot. Shoji mostly records for the Deutsche Grammophon label. Volume 4 of her recording of all (10) Beethoven violin sonatas will be released in 2015. Her violin is the Recamier Stradivarius from 1729. Shoji’s photo (used here, slightly modified) is courtesy of Nikolaj Lund, well-known European photographer of classical musicians and classical music subjects.