Tag Archives: WASO

Henning plays the Sibelius with WASO

Wow!  My favourite violin concerto.  Henning, a young and talented violinist that I had the pleasure of seeing a masterclass of last week.  Good combination 🙂

Henning played it through effortlessly – letting his violin sing the passion that’s in the Sibelius, as well as hitting the technical work. 

I loved the attention he gave to the conductor and orchestra during the performance (and joining the string pizzicatos in the 3rd movement).  I was amazed at the way he hit the jumps to the high notes and fingered octaves in the first movement and arpeggios in the last movement with no problems.  But I was most surprised by the volume of sound Henning is able to produce from his violin.  I don’t think WASO played with a smaller orchestra for the concerto – it was the full thing.  But I heard Henning with no problems.  

How?  I’m guessing great bowing arm and wrist, full bow hair on the string, and playing next to the bridge but without scratchiness.  The only fault I can give was I wished there was a bit more space in between some of the phrases in the first movement – they nearly rushed into each other.  But the second movement was so soulful and well played it’s inspired me to get the notes back out and learn it.

The Perth audience applause was great, and Henning treated us to not one, but TWO encores!  The first encore was played by Henning leading the string section.  I believe this was “La Melancolie”, composed by Norwegian violinist Ole Bull (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ole_Bull), when Ole’s wife passed away.   Great to hear something not so passionate, and more subdued.   The second encore?  I don’t know – let me know if you know what it was – it was nearly sounding improvised at some bits.   I would have loved to have hear him play the Ysaye Ballade (like Vengerov and Vadim) but it was not to be.
Violin/piano score to La Melancolie here – https://urresearch.rochester.edu/institutionalPublicationPublicView.action?institutionalItemId=4056&versionNumber=1

Henning Kraggerud Masterclass

Our state orchestra, WASO, started an excellent program last year where they get visiting soloists to give a masterclass to local musicians.  

Last night, I quickly rushed from work, dropped Little Miss 10 home, then made my way to Hale School to see Henning Kraggerud give a violin masterclass.  He’s in town this weekend to play my favourite violin concerto, the Sibelius.

It seems that WASO, together with partners UWA, WAAPA and AUSTA, rounded up 4 lucky local violinists to play.

And what a great night it was!

We heard movements from the Prokofiev and Korngold violin concertos, a showy Smetena tune, and Ysaye’s extremely difficult Ballade.

And like Renaud Capucon’s masterclass, much of what Henning was trying to draw out from the players was moving from beyond notes to making music and story telling.   Is that the key ingredient that sets these elite apart from the rest?   There definitely was some “magic” that Henning was able to make when he made his violin sing.

It’s not just story telling and musical interpretation but amazing technical prowess too.  I was extremely excited when it was introduced that Shaun Lee-Chen was playing the Ysaye (and jealous! I wish I had the time and ability to learn and play this!)  Shaun played it really well – his technique is definitely very solid and intonation was really good.   I thought, what could he say to Shaun?

A lot apparently!  Henning knew the Ballade back to front, playing it with even more ease – unbelievable.  The interaction between them and going into details and “tricks” of the Ballade was purely brilliant, insightful and entertaining.  Reading his bio, no wonder he knows it so well – he has recorded all the Ysaye unaccompanied Violin Sonatas! 

And the volume and depth of sound that came from Henning and his violin – amazing.  I wonder if he really was playing on his Guarneri del Gesu last night.

WASO and sponsors (Apache Energy) – thanks for putting this on.  It definitely is a win-win – raising the profile and respect for WASO’s soloists as we get to see them work behind the scenes, but also improving and inspiring the music community in WA.

More info

WASO’s Masterclass program – http://www.waso.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=292

Henning’s Biography – http://www.imgartists.com/?page=artist&id=207

WASO concert this weekend – http://www.waso.com.au/EventDetail.aspx?ProductID=2485

Tim Minchin vs WASO at Kings Park

Ahhh..  this is one of the great things about Perth life.

A beautiful Summer (no wait, warm Autumn) evening, picnic, great food and drink, great company (my Wifey!) and watching a concert in the outdoors!  

Last weekend, Perth people had the pick of either Michael Buble at the Sandalford or Tim Minchin with WASO in Kings Park.  We opted for the Tim Minchin and weren’t disappointed! 

The lyrics were sometimes bitter and offensive but overall great story telling and social commentary on what our lives and culture has become.  Some of his songs are really clever and combined with his piano playing remind me of Ben Folds (ahh..  someone else I need to see live).  As the sole main man on stage all night, Tim definitely held his own with a confident stage presence. 

And it was awesome to see Shaun Tan’s “The Lost Thing” being shown on the screen during interval.  At first I didn’t know why, but Wifey informs me it’s because Tim did the narration for it – unfortunately, something that couldn’t be heard at interval – will definitely have to seek this out later.

But the whole concert going experience just reminded me of what a nanny state WA, or Australia has become.

Check out this sign on the way in – warning you of foul language ahead!!!  I wonder if any of those older richer VIPs or people who were there as WASO only fans got offended at all 🙂  I didn’t see anyone walk out though, which is a good sign!

And this sign made me LOL – do we really need to be told how to arrange our picnic rug?

More here:  http://www.timminchin.com/

Masterclass with Renaud Capucon

Renaud Capucon (image from EMI Classics website)

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to attend a masterclass by young violinist Renaud Capucon.

I’ve participated in a few masterclasses in the past and I remember being extremely nervous.  It’s a wonderful and rare opportunity to get feedback from a world class professional solo violinist, but I remember the challenge of trying to break my mould and fixed ways to try what the masterclass teacher is asking.  I was keen to go this to hear Renaud’s approach to music and the violin.

So at this masterclass, four violinists ranging in age from 14 to mid twenties played for Renaud, organised by UWA, ECU, AUSTA and WASO.

The violinists all played well.  Renaud, dress smart casual in a jacket and jeans, was animated and friendly. In fact, quite good looking according to some female audience members 🙂    A lot of his teaching style reminded me of Maxim Vengerov’s masterclasses, and my ex-teacher Paul Eder – trying to capture the essence and personification of music interpretation through the use of imagery.  

And that was the main thing I took away from the masterclass – most of his comments centered around how to move to the next level – in my mind, from “playing music” to “making music”.  After all, music should be an expression of the soul.  Sure, notes and technique are important, like the foundations to build a sturdy building.  But it’s not real “music” until you put your heart into it.

If it’s a Mozart violin concerto, the phrases should sing like different people singing a conversation.

If it’s a showy virtuosic piece, it shouldn’t be played like a study of technical work, but blow your socks off.

Sure, trying to get the violinists to try different ways of playing by describing images to them, or making them move in certain ways, is good and the violin students that night were able to adapt in varying degrees. 

But for me, the best parts of the evening was when Renaud took out his violin (I’m guessing he had his Guarneri del Gesu there!) and showed how he would play it.

And that…



I thought the violinist who played the Mozart A major concerto played with great detail and care.  But when Renaud played the opening phrase, it was sublime – the tone so warm, the phrasing and control perfect – one big soaring singing line.   That’s the difference…

Suddenly nearly 2 and a half hours it was all over.  I was definitely impressed with the little of Renaud’s playing I heard and his approach to music and Mozart in particular, and inspired to go home and pick up the violin again! 

In fact, it’s probably time to start thinking of the next big work to learn.  I’m feeling in the mood for some Carmen at the moment!

More info:

Renaud Capucon’s biography here:  http://www.emiclassics.com/artistbiography.php?aid=102 and http://www.intermusica.co.uk/capucon

Great interview with Renaud Capucon by Aart van der Wal – http://www.musicweb-international.com/Sandh/2010/Jan-Jun10/Renaud_Capucon.htm

This weekend’s WASO concert featuring Renaud playing the Korngold Violin Concerto and Ravel’s Tzigane – http://www.waso.com.au/EventDetail.aspx?ProductID=2431

Rebecca White playing the Carmen Fantasy with the FCO this weekend – http://members.iinet.net.au/~hug1/fco/

Beethoven Violin Concerto with Kyoko Takezawa

When I was young (and still living at home obviously!), my Dad used to take me to violin concerts.  I think I didn’t know any better at the time, but we did see some great concerts.  I do remember actually sitting on the Perth Concert Hall stage watching Yehudi Menuhin play!

Last night, I had another date with my Dad.  We went to see WASO, primarily to see, really listen, to the Beethoven Violin Concerto.  The soloist last night was Kyoko Takezawa.  I must admit, I hadn’t heard of her before, but her resume is quite impressive.

And so she came on stage, quite small, but polite and smiley.  WASO started with a reduced orchestra, maybe too reduced as I was missing that really warm string section sound.  When Kyoko started playing, you could see the emotion she was drilling into her violin.  From where we were sitting, very crystal clear playing and spot on intonation, and even though she played really well, it wasn’t doing anything for me yet.

And then the cadenza for for the First Movement came.  And suddenly there was magic.  I was totally captivated, hanging off every note.  And I think the whole of the packed Perth Concert Hall was too.  It was like we were all hypnotised, mesmorised by her solo violin, singing out the multiple rising voice lines.   The end of the cadenza was most beautiful, and I think she must have inspired or lifted wASO up a notch because they came to the party too.

The audience applauded after the First Movement, but she deserved it.  Magic.

That’s one of the reasons why I love classical music.  When the feelings and emotions are poured out by the soloist, and connected directly with audience.  It’s more than just “listening” to music, or your eardrums picking up vibrating air particles.  Sometimes a connection is made, dare I say, at the soul level that can move you to tears.

It’s put me in a quandry now – she’s inspired me.  Should I return to the Beethoven Violin Concerto?  It’s one I started learning towards the “last” years of my violin days in my youth, but never finished.  But I know from when I tackled it, it “seems” easy to play – mostly scales and arpeggios (except the candenza!).  But it’s SO very hard to play it beautifully and maturely, to sing the legato lines.

The rest of the program featured the full, really full WA Symphony Orchestra.  There’s something wonderful about getting that many good musicians together and really playing it out – the SOUND of a full symphony orchestra is uplifting!

If you can’t make it to the Perth Concert Hall tonight, iiNet will be streaming the WASO concert live here – http://media.iinet.net.au/index.cgi?id=waso, at 7.30PM Perth Time (GMT+8).

Symphony one night, Guns’n’Roses the next..

Well the other weekend, I had a major contrast of musical experiences!!

Saturday night, brought my Dad along to see Tamsin Little play the Elgar with the WASO.  As usual, we were cheap skates and sat in the choir stalls.  Don’t know why, but previously I had always sat on the left side of the stage, directly behind the soloist.  This time, we tried the far right side of the stage so we could basically look down the fingerboard of the violin.  Much better position… but still, the sound isn’t that great from behind..

Anyways, she was good I guess!  Fat tone, a few off notes…  I think I just don’t like the concerto.. especially the 3rd movement.. what was Elgar thinking with all that strumming stuff.. he must’ve been on drugs..  that whole section could be chopped out and the concerto would be better!

It was good to see Margie leading.. John must be busy somewhere I guess.  Also good to see Semra leading the 2nds!!  kewll..   Anyway, we left at interval.

But what was even better was Guns’n’Roses!!  On Sunday, Chris and I made our way to the Burswood Dome to join the other huge crowd of people..  really assorted people actually – we were thinking that the original fans would be our age or older (30-40s) and there were people round that age..  but there were groups of young high school kids too.  Anyway, it was a LONG concert!  Angry Anderson had his near hour set, Sebastian Bach (ex Skid Row) did an over hour set, and then Gunners didn’t come on until 11.15ish!!  But they played till 1.15ish!!

It was excellent!!  Pity that Axl (and Dizzy) are the only original members left, but still, to hear him and the band play all my old favourites from the past albums was kewl…   Axl is getting a bit older, and luckily he didn’t wear his white bikeshorts!!  a few downers..  no Slash!!  maybe Velvet Revolver will come to Perth one day..  also, we were seated pretty high up –  I would’ve loved to be in the mosh pit, especially during Paradise City when all the confetti was coming down and all.. what a great rock experience that would be!!  the other downer was some silly guy 2 rows in front of us who was  pissing off and antagonising  everyone  around him during the Sebastian Bach set..  luckily he pissed off when Gunners came on.

Oh well, that was a concert to remember..  that filled my rock appetite for a while.. I read that Black Sabbath is coming.. hmm..   when will Dream Theater come????

oh.. and i gotta get a Les Paul..  Gibson preferably, but Epi will do too

Vadim Repin plays Sibelius!

Well, on Saturday night, had 2 tickets to go see WASO’s concert.  I had to go because Vadim Repin was the soloist, playing the Sibelius violin concerto – my favourite!  Su decided it wasn’t her cup of tea, so Dad came along instead.

It was amazing! Vadim is one of the best violinists to come round Perth’s way and he executed the concerto with much ease and great technical ability.  WASO seemed to be lagging behind a bit in the first movement, and Vadim seemed to fly maybe too quickly through some of the runs, but it was amazing to see live.  I think I still prefer Vengerov’s version though.

Then after 3 curtain calls, Vadim came out and played Ysaye’s Sonata No. 3 as an encore, just like Vengerov on his DVD.  I would have liked it to have even more emotion/flair but again it was technically amazing, especially to play the Ysaye after the Sibelius concerto!  I wish I could play either just by itself.

Oh well, it’s inspired me again.  I’ve lined up another lesson on Thursday with Margie.  Have only practised twice since the last lesson (4 weeks ago!?!?) but I think I need to book a lesson in to force myself to practise.  Hopefully will finish the rest of the 1st movement of the Wieniawski 2nd, then move on to the next movements.