Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
Swiss soloist Rachel Kolly d’Alba was having trouble at the top with her 1732 Stradivarius. So she took it back to the shop.
Are you sure that’s not Bree Van de Kamp from Desperate Housewives? Sure looks like! Sadly there isn’t much point to this video…
She is a beautiful and sensitive violinist with a vibrato that makes a listener melt. While the strad makes the sound beautiful, she makes the violin sound even better. Just like a soloist can adjust technical challenges or interpretive ideas, so too the luthier can raise the instrument’s level to meet all that the soloist demands of it. Among the cogniscenti, Rachel is considered one of the very best violinists. Her CD’s have been critical favorites and award winners. The violin only helps make that more evident.
I am glad that thousands of people read Norman’s blog including many in the professional classical scene. For some like Rachel Kolly d’Alba, she uses this blog for self promotion campaign. Great way to get attention [redacted]!!
Dear Johny, for you to know, I never sent anything to Mr. Lebrecht. He found this video himself. But now, you give me one reason to post something. Thank you!
This video has not been done by me, but by my violin maker for his own promotion. There is an other one here, about his own instruments that I find very poetic, with beautiful images: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Cmd161I88
Dear Hyzor, the purpose of these videos is to show that Mr. Philippe Girardin welcomes great violins in his atelier (that is not evident), and that he builds himself incredible instruments. He won several competitions for his own instruments (including best sound) and is recognized among violin makers. But he never “promoted” his work. What he does is truly remarkable, being passionate. He always sought answers, going as far as he could; with no arrogance, being very authentic. That’s why he is so good for the “adjustments” on string instruments, able to render their full potential. What I appreciate is the fact he has clear answers, not making his knowledge “a mystery”, contrariwise to many luthiers I know.
The sound of his own instruments can compete with great instruments from the past. And, f. ex. his varnishes, compared with those from famous instruments – look on his webpage – are breathtaking.
Happy to share these infos with the “thousands of people”…
If Kolly d’Alba is considered one of the very best violinists why I have never heard her name? There are Janine Jansen, Julia Fischer, Hilary Hahn, Lisa Batiashvili, Arabella Steinbacher, Sarah Chang who play in the major music capitals with the major orchestras, recitals, chamber music in major halls etc. But this one hasn’t made it there yet so what is the justification of “one of the very best violinists”?
In her own country Switzerland which is a small country, she has no engagements with Tonhalle Zurich, Winterthur, Basel, Bern, OSR, Lugano, St. Gallen….so would Swiss people know that she is one of the very best????
Barbara, Ive never heard of you either, but are you one of the best critics? Hardly. The names you mention might be popular, but do not necessarily mean they are the best. Grigory Sokolov is hardly a household name as a pianist, but is considered among the greatest alive. He doesnt play with many orchestras either because he doesnt want to. Neither does Rachel. Its seems your barometer for being great is being a violinist that has a big manager and plays only with big orchestras. If thats your standard, its no wonder classical music is in trouble, for you are exactly the kind of faux critic that celebrates the same names over and over again, even if they do not always merit such attention. Regarding attention, Rachel Kolly d’Alba is getting it from mostly every critic: She has won the 2012 ICMA award for best concerto, has had 5 stars in Diapason, Supersonic in Pizzicato, great reviews in Gramophone and IRR (and Ive read some of the other names you write who do not), has played with many great orchestras around the world, and, if I understand well, has more media in Switzerland than the rest of your list combined, including many Swiss critics who write she is the best Swiss soloist today. What I also understand is she is a very intelligent woman who chooses when she wants to play not because she is told by some manager to play, and takes care of her daughter as a priority over taking engagements. And who would want to play with half of those Swiss orchestras listed anyway? I think you have no right to come on this thread to character assassinate unless you are prepared to suffer the same consequence. To that end, I suggest you keep your uninformed and méchant comments to yourself.
And finally, Barbara, why dont you read one of the great critics about Rachel or better yet- Kremer’s famous letter to Verbier and maybe you will then finally understand what is great and what is popular. Rachel cares about music. And her violin. You seem to only care about the words you write….And they are poor ones.
Well, I cannot believe what I read, the unnecessarily mean words from Madame Ruggeri.and the superficial attitude of Monsieur Hyzor. I am a professional journalist in switzerland, and I believed this blog would offer some serious insight into the world of classical music, but I am surprised that so much unserious information is shared.
Having heard Ms. Kolly d’Alba on a number of times, and having heard all the great soloists perform over the last 40 years (including the list presented by Ruggeri), I can say that Ms. Kolly d’Alba has the artistic integrity, tecnical capacity and mature interpretative ability to indeed become one of the very best. The last time I heard a sound like hers was Ginette Neveu and that was a very long time ago. I dont believe Madame Ruggeri has any idea of what she is talking about. If she did, she would not expose herself to be so naïve about what makes a great artist. However, it appears, Ms: Kolly d’Alba herself gives us the real reason for this blog entry: the role the Luthier plays. That is something very fascinating, and I would like to know more. Are there books about this unique relationship between luthier and soloist? The instrument itself can have trememndous value based on what the luthier creates and makes, but the violinist is subject to the whimsy of such opinions as those of Madame Ruggeri. I for one find Christophe’s responses accurate. And I will go to the next concert by Ms. Kolly d’Alba, which I know is in Gstaad next month. Perhaps I will actually see Madame Ruggeri there and we can discuss her opinions more intelligently?
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
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