and I love it!
and I love it!
I just cut the studio recordings of Tatsuki's Paganini Caprices.... unbelievable playing...
I've also not seen a live recording of all 24 Caprices... many studio recordings, but live is an almost impossible feat to do well...
I'll be releasing the live concert tapes as well as a studio recording of the 24 Caprices...
The live has an emotion one cannot get in a studio recording...
pls notify me when ready...
It is impossible to convey to non-bowed stringed instrument players how exceptionally difficult it is to play these pieces, let alone the whole 24 of them. I haven't kept up with the official examination requirements for stringed instrument diplomas in my country since the mid 1980s, however back then, the highest formal qualification obtainable on the instrument (Licentiate Diploma) required than one (just one, mind you) Caprice be performed (obviously amongst an eclectic gamut of several other standard repertoire works from the romantic period - there were no actual technical exercises required at this level either, the reasoning being that they were required for the pre-qualifying exams such as the Associate Diploma and the inescapable fact that unless you live for your "boring" technical work and do it each and every day, you haven't the slightest hope of beginning to play any of these pieces to begin with).
I ceased my violin study back in the mid 1980s to get into the IT profession and annoyingly for me, I did not get that final Licentiate Diploma (in all sincerity, I doubt I would have been good enough in any case). I did think of going for it many years later when my main career was inevitable winding down but then realised I'd have to be buried in text books for a couple of years brushing up and studying all the musical theory again! I did make one home amateur recording of the 14th Caprice about 12 years ago though which I obviously kept myself for posterity, though as a mere amateur I am not going to pretend it is at the standard of a world class soloist. That said, I still think it puts me in a better position to understand the level of dedication, fanatical perfectionism and dogged determination needed to be successful at the sort of world class standard to achieve these feats, even though I obviously would never have had a hope of achieving the same for myself.
Anyone who can play one of these Caprices to a high performance standard is a highly accomplished musician to begin with. To master the lot of them to that same standard is a tremendous feat in human accomplishment that even most professional players can't truly claim to have managed. To do the whole lot - live - is just freakish. And I think you'd need to be slightly mad in the head to even contemplate it!
Wow – thank you so much for sharing your personal violin playing experiences with us!
You “hit the nail right on the head”, these are impossible pieces really written by Paganini to showcase himself & likely beyond the ability of most violinists, of that time, or anytime, to play….
There really are many ways to play any repertoire… with the Caprices, to just “play the notes” is already a feat, but to play them & weave a musical journey, which is beyond the technical, is a truly amazing accomplishment….
I will post the video on YouTube asap & I think you will all agree, this was a once in a lifetime, historic performance… (I wanted to have my recording engineer friend video this, but Tatsuki wanted it to be a “pure concert” …. I’m very glad I persuaded him to let me video it, albeit with a home camcorder…. Maybe this is more fitting to his spirit – a pure musician, no glamour or glitz…
It was magical to watch & hear this unfold live…. Somehow, everything was perfect that afternoon, his 1738 Del Gesu, with Oliv gut strings, responded as quickly as his bowing… the sound was soaring yet every whisper was heard…
For the audio crowd, I’m happy to say I have it on tape… with unbelievable sound..! because I put a pair of NOS vintage WE300b, (1956) into the microphone pre-amp… the sound from these shocked me… incredible natural resolution, with timbres resolved in all the high notes… I’ve never heard recorded violin sound like this…. So organic & right!
I also have a “studio recording” with slightly different resonance… more beautiful as he was facing the microphones more… he likens the live performance to the Caprices being 1 piece, with 24 small parts all woven into 1 piece with 1 underling thought. Whereas the “studio recording” is a beautiful recording of 24 short pieces strung together… interesting analogy…
So there is something here for everyone…. The musician & audiophile!
There are more interesting tidbits to come, from these 8 days with Tatsuki, after the video gets posted…
I am also very glad to see that Oliv gut strings are being used. I've mentioned elsewhere on these forums that you can compare the Pirastro wound gut strings (namely Eudoxa and Oliv) to modern synthetics as you can the very best analogue technology to modern digital. To me, the wound gut strings simply give more, though they also demand more - one of the reasons they are not as popular today as they were prior to the late 1970s. It is also interesting to note that of all the current players who opt to use the old-style strings, the vast majority of them are audio enthusiasts to one extent or another.
Too many violins, violas and cellos these days are strung with high tension synthetic strings and to be perfectly blunt, sonically speaking in my opinion it is like comparing a $1,000 turntable with a $200 cartridge to a $10,000 turntable setup with a $2,000 cartridge. The former is just "OK" but the latter - well setup, can be worth much more than the sum of it's parts and is a couple of classes ahead in reproduction. The advantages of the modern synthetics are obvious though - often cheaper to buy or at the very least certainly much cheaper over time, they hold their pitch better, are more durable and they require noticeably less right hand finesse because the tension is higher and the core more resilient and consistent - so they are far less likely to "crack" ("cracking" is when you completely kill the tone through too much bow pressure /speed and not at the right point between bridge and fingerboard for that speed and pressure). In other words, you can be relatively ham-fisted with the modern strings but there is no hiding whatsoever with the traditional ones.
The Olivs are a "tougher" wound gut and I used them on the G string only (as a lot of players did back in my day), saving the Eudoxa for the A and often an American Kaplan wound gut for the D (as they were more durable than the Eudoxa D which really did not last long if you had acidic skin acid (duh) like I did. The Olivs need more effort to produce a tone than the Eudoxa but you can push them harder as well. They are a better option for a soloist as they produce more complex overtones, more volume and more carrying power.
Tatsuki arguably makes his job more challenging with the Del Gesu as they are usually more difficult (or perhaps challenging is a better word) to elicit the very best from them compared to the easier to play early and latter period Strads (not the long model though) and Amatis - that is especially the case if the instrument has the original rib thickness (or close to it) as those fiddles had really deep ribs and pretty thick plates - so they could (and do) sound absolutely fantastic but you had to be up giving them what they need to begin with. I prefer the sound of a Del Gesu over all other instruments but unfortunately there are not many of them around, they are worth an absolute tonne of money and not many artists have the use of them.
My only regret with all of this is that alas I do not have an open reel setup although it is my favourite of all formats and I follow open reel and tape forums avidly. Perhaps one day in the future you might consider pressing some of these releases on vinyl pressed by Quality Record Pressings! The good thing about recording any musical performance is that it is never too late to release something, no matter how long ago it was recorded.
Here's the video of Tatsuki's concert of the 24 Caprices of Nicolo Paganini....
It was an amazing concert.... everything was perfect that afternoon... his fiddle just soared......it was electrifying...
Tatsuki became Paganini that afternoon....
fantastic and he looks totally unaffected by the complexity?
This is a nice live performance of the whole set - something very rarely attempted. Many players won't even play one live, let alone the whole lot. You can tell that Tatsuki warms up into the set as it goes along so that by the time he is up to the 5th he is at full throttle with the engine temps all in the green zone! It is interesting to note that in the first Caprice Paganini's original bowing directives (sympathetically reproduced in the very-long standing International Music Ivan Galamian edition with a notoriously blood-red coloured cover as an ominous warning of what lies within the pages) required an even more advanced technique than is used by all players that I know of - at least in the last four decades or so, with the rare exception being Itzhak Perlman (who of course was a Galamian pupil himself). The reason being is that these works are hard enough as it is and to manage them with the original intended bowings puts it into the realm of the near-impossible. Paganini never wrote these so that players on every street corner could enjoy them. He wrote them because he knew it would demonstrate his vast technical superiority over everyone else.
In that first Caprice the descending thirds are actually notated as ricochet bowing - not spiccato. With the ricochet bowing, the whole descending scale would be played with a staccato effect with the bow bouncing off the strings between each chord, but crucially the bow is only pulled in the down-bow direction when doing so. The bow thus bounces on and off the string in the one direction as opposed to what everyone does these days which is to alternate between up and down bow for each chord (spiccato). But you will have a lot of trouble finding any videos of anyone doing the ricochet. I could not find any at all which to me says how difficult Paganini really wanted these pieces to be. I think he honestly wanted them to be so difficult that no one apart from himself could ever get up in front of an audience and pull them off the way he annotated them.
But in the 5th Caprice, the semi-quavers are also notated by Paganini himself to be played with the first three of each group of four as ricochet and the fourth one a single "recovery" up-bow! That is incredibly difficult since there is only a limited part of the bow that is amenable to ricochet in the first place (tending to be the around the middle upwards) yet you only have one single note (played at an extremely fast tempo) to get that bow back up to that point form the next group of 4! So as if it were not hard enough as it is, you get one quarter the amount of time you had for the ricochet to get the bow back to where it was!
And I am happy to report that in this performance Tatsuki bites the bullet and does it the hard way as described above. It is virtually impossible to do this as cleanly as the "cheater's" way out which is to employ sautille bowing (well even that is actually extremely difficult as well since you are playing very fast with string crossings).
It you want to compare the two ways of doing it - watch Tatsuki play the 5th then look at Antal Zalai's video here:
you will see that Zalai choses a more moderate tempo and in combination with the sautille it sounds cleaner but it is significantly less dramatic. But it is the performer's choice - elect to be faithful to the original edition like Tasuki does where it is inevitably going to sound a bit more grungy yet spectacular versus the "safe" and "clean" sautille approach that almost everyone uses except the really great players.
Another interesting thing to observe in this performance is the spontaneous loss of bow-hair after the 14th Caprice. This is not Tatsuki's "fault" - this Caprice is a bow and bow-hair killer as you are asking the bow and bow hair to accomplish something that almost defies physics - playing 4 strings at once with a modern bow on a curved bridge. It needs a massive amount of practice to do this cleanly and when I finally learned that piece my bow had probably lost about 10% of it's hair! It think it is quite funny watching him pull the broken bits out actually since I think every player who has ever played this can relate to it!
One other interesting note: Paganini apparently had pretty large hands but even hand size is just one attribute needed to navigate these pieces. The stretches required are insane on a full-sized instrument, especially playing in tenths. My teacher was a Galamian pupil and she mentioned to me once that she got tenosynovitis when she was made to learn them! She had pretty tiny hands - I don't think it was fair to be honest. It was like making the women compete with the men in the Olympic Basketball!!