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Strauss's 'Don Juan' viola part isn't supposed to sound like this, is it?

Ariane Todes discovers that sometimes it is acceptable to laugh at a viola player

Wednesday, 01 May 2013

Here at The Strad we love the viola – so much so that we've devoted our whole May issue to this most soulful and versatile of instruments.

But when someone showed me this video clip, I couldn't help laughing. A lot.

Such is the joy of the 'shred'. The profound reverence with which we treat the art of playing completely undermined and offended by ugly, ridiculous sounds that emanate where normally comes great beauty. It makes us feel giddily silly and stupidly childish. And yet at the same time it expresses something very important about art – we should never take it too seriously. 

You could even consider the mash-up a work of art in itself. After all, how much time goes into playing the viola quite so badly, but recording perfectly in synch with the original?

To prove that it's not just viola players that make us laugh in this context, here's Perlman on what sounds like a bad day. This may be even funnier, in fact, for the sheer joy on his face as he plays so 'badly'.

But if you want to be serious again and find out how 'Don Juan' should be played, here is Martin Stegner's original masterclass on the Strauss.

 

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