Joshua Bell’s Toughest Challenge

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I don’t really know much about music, but Mike Mechanic’s interview with violin superstar Joshua Bell was pretty interesting. For example:

MJ: What’s the most technically difficult piece you’ve ever performed?

JB: It’s not always what seems hard. The Beethoven violin concerto is technically maybe the hardest because it’s so exposed. The Tchaikovsky is more technically difficult; it’s got more acrobatics, yet you can get away with more.

MJ: What do you mean, exposed?

JB: If you mess up the tiniest little thing in the Beethoven concerto, or the phrasing isn’t just exactly perfectly executed—Beethoven brings out the worst in the best violinist. You almost never hear a satisfying performance, because it doesn’t play itself. The Tchaikovsky is technically bombastic, but it kind of plays itself.

Interesting! And although I know all about million-dollar Stradivariuses, I’d never heard of Tourte bows. They go for a hundred grand, and just like the Strads, no one can make their equal anymore. Also interesting!

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