Ivry Gitlis (1922- )
Ivry Gitlis is an Israeli violin virtuoso. He has had a long and varied career performing with many of the world’s major orchestras (such as the London Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic.) Ivry also played with the Beatles in the Rock and Roll Circus film. He is also an actor and composer. He moved to the US in the 1950s. Since the 1960s he has lived in Paris, France. Ivry Gitlis style of playing is very different from violinists of today. He occasionally plays without vibrato, and he uses the bow to get different tonal colours out of the violin. Sometimes the playing is lush, at other times it has a frantic energy to it.
Here is a clip from 1962 of Ivry Gitlis and Georges Pludermacher playing Saint-Saens Rondo Capriccioso. He plays this piece unlike any other violinist I have heard. There is incredible energy and abandon in this performance.
For comparison, listen to this performance of Itzhak Perlman and the Sadler’s Wells Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. Perlman’s interpretation is quite a bit slower than Gitlis. Gitlis really goes for it. Enjoy
Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)
Henryk Wieniawski was a Polish violinist and composer. In 1843 (when he was only 8 years old) he was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire. Wieniawski was a violin virtuoso and toured quite extensively during his career. He composed several pieces for violin and piano that he often played in recitals when on tour. Wieniawski was a wonderful melodist, but his pieces are often very challenging to play and require a virtuoso technique. A violin competition was named after him. He is to the violin what Chopin is to the piano.
Here is a video clip of violinist Itzhak Perlman (accompanied on the piano by Janet Guggenheim) playing Wieniawski’s Etude Caprice Op. 18 No.4. This video clip was taken from a film of a tour Perlman did in Russia. As you will see in the video, this piece is extremely difficult to play. Perlman is such a master of his instrument that he makes it look easy.
Scott Joplin (c.1867/68 – 1917)
Scott Joplin was a black American pianist and composer. He is known today for the many piano rags that he composed. Pianists have recorded and performed his music during his lifetime and after his death continuing to the present day. Many people know about Scott Joplin’s music because of a few of his rags that have become famous. These pieces include the Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer, and Easy Winners.
In 1975 violinist Itzhak Perlman and jazz pianist and conductor Andre Previn decided to record a few of the well known rags by Scott Joplin that Perlman arranged for violin and piano. Here are a couple of selections from that recording entitled “Easy Winners.”