Yvonne Lam

Monday, 14 October 2013

The US violinist tells us what she is listening to at the moment

Kreisler's rubato is as natural as the cadence and timing of a conversation between two old friends.

Kathleen Battle
‘Agnus Dei’ from Mozart’s ‘Coronation’ Mass (Karajan/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)

My aunt has an extensive record collection that I enjoy listening to whenever I visit her, and this 1985 LaserDisc is one of my favourites. Battle in her prime had a voice like spun gold. I’ve learnt so much about sound production and phrasing from singers, and her voice is an example of the cantabile sound I try to emulate on the violin.

Stephane Grappelli
Peanut Vendor

If I had heard Grappelli earlier in life, I would probably have been a jazz violinist. I’ve watched videos of his playing and I just can’t figure out how he works his magic. His impeccable timing, artful slides and superb bow technique give him an inimitable elegance along with an air of easy cool.

Sufjan Stevens
All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!

Stevens makes sophisticated music under the guise of indie folk pop. This song is in 5/8, and its lilting, repetitious quality is reminiscent of minimalist music. It’s hard not to be impressed by his versatility and wide range of style.

David Oistrakh
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Kondrashin/USSR Symphony Orchestra)

This is the first recording of the Beethoven that I ever heard, aged 7 or 8. My parents switched on our car radio during the last movement, and I wouldn’t let them turn it off until it had finished. Oistrakh’s sound remains one of my favourite of all violinists, and I particularly admire his musical sincerity and warm-heartedness.  

Fritz Kreisler
Liebesfreud from Kreisler Plays Kreisler

No one plays Kreisler like Kreisler. Every shift and slide seems spontaneous, yet after hearing him play you can’t imagine it any other way. He has an incredible vocal quality to his playing, and his rubato is as natural as the cadence and timing of a conversation between two old friends.

Originally published in The Strad, January 2011. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.

Photo: Lisa Marie Mazzucco

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