Posts Tagged ‘Johann Sebastian Bach’

Frankfurt Book Fair 2011, Part 1

The Frankfurt Book Fair 2011 took place October 12-16 and was more than usually full of events – conferences, workshops, forums, presentations, talks, and of course exhibition stands. Approximately 3200 events in five days, 7384 exhibitors from 106 countries… that isn’t something a single person can reasonably follow in any sense of the word. And I wasn’t even there for the full five days: so my impressions are just that, impressions from a very partial sample of this complex world. (If you want to know more, you can browse the Fair’s site, in English, in German, or, the site of the international online publishing newsletter; and you can still download also a free app for iPhone and Android with all the information about the Fair.)

Wandering around the aisles of the Halls, you can only feel that something is changing: e-books are not easy to show up, as the traditional printed books are, so you can see the usual long lines of paper covers, and the electronic books are more a topic of conversation than an actual object to be seen and appreciated. Something should change in the future, unless the all-digital turn will completely wipe out this kind of events. E-books of course are there, and you can find them; but for now they are less visible than the conventional books, that’s all.

Overview from outside

One of the aspects that struck me is linked to the organization: the growing number of specialized «islands», stands regrouping based on the subject area, in particular in the Halls of the German publishers: Tourism, Comics, Children Books, and this year also a Music island and an Audio books island, among the others. It seems to simplify your task, if you are specifically interested in one of this areas, but of course in these groups you can find only the specialized publishers (Schott, for example), and if you are not a little more adventurous, there is a clear risk of missing something, among the not-so-specialized publishers. And then, that’s true only of the German Halls (that are, anyway, a substantial fraction of the whole), and not of the other Halls, still arranged mostly by country. Anyway, this is an interesting aspect, that seems to point towards a growing specialization (or at least, to a growing awareness of it).

Cover of book on Bach hörenThe Music island wasn’t particularly attracting, for me at least: many scores, learning handbooks of any level and for any musical genre – from primary school to college level, from classical to pop, rock, folk, jazz. That’s not my field of expertise, so I can tell you only that the offer is really very rich, but I can tell nothing about the actual quality of those products.

In general, however, many are of course the new publications you can see in the stands: but the feeling is that the efforts are now mostly focused on fiction (and in particular on «category fiction» –  mistery or thrillers, historical novels, fantasy and so on) and general traee books; essays seem to be a shrinking fraction of the whole production – or maybe they are more quickly migrating to other formats. I have no hard data on which to ground a solid statement, but the feeling was very clear.

Cover of the book JohannespassionNot many titles struck me as interesting or really new. I will just mention a German publisher, Reclam, based in Stuttgart (, which publishes many low-price, small trim size books (most of them, traditionally with a simple, yellow cover – but that is changing, too). Reclam just published two «introductions to listening», dedicated to J. S. Bach in general and to his Johannes Passion: the authors are ichael Wersin (Bach hören, 176 pages), and Meinrad Walter (Johann Sebastian Bach. Johannespassion, 280 pages, with an interesting subtitle: «Eine musikalisch-theologische Einführung», a musical-theological introduction). Just published also a collection of Texts to musical Aesthetics (Texte zur Musikästhetik, edited by E. Böhm and F. von Ammon, 360 pages), spanning 2000 years, from Plato to Pierre Boulez.

Worth mentioning also, although in another field, a book published by a Swiss publisher, Christoph Merian Verlag ( : Kultur digital. Begriffe, Hintergründe, Beispiele, edited by Hedy Graber, Dominik Landwehr, Veronika Sellier (for Migros-Kulturprozent), peter Haber and Claudia Rosiny, with essays by Aleida Assmann, Peter Haber, Knut Hickethier, Verena Kuni, Georg Christoph Tholen and others (more info at in German).


Dami Kim at Limenmusic Studio

Today at Limenmusic’s Studio: the Korean violinist Dami Kim, top prize winner of 2010 53rd Premio Paganini Competition in Genoa!!!

Dami Kim, 22, from Korea, began studying the violin at age five. She entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2002 and studied with a violinist Aaron Rosand.
Kim held the Mark and Esther Kramer Fellowship as her merit-based full scholarship at Curtis. She graduated The Curtis Institute of Music in May 2007, and gained the Diploma. In May 2010, she gained the Bachelor’s Degree from New England Conservatory, where she won the Concerto Competition and performed with NEC Symphony Orchestra in 2009.
She is currently studying with a renowned violinist Miriam Fried, and pursuing the Master’s Degree at New England Conservatory as a full scholarship student since September 2010.
Read more

She records for Limenmusic Web Tv:

Johann Sebastian Bach – Sonata No 1 in G minor
Niccolò Paganini – Caprice No 4 (Maestoso)
Niccolò Paganini – Caprice No 5 (Agitato)
Niccolò Paganini – Caprice No 9 (Allegretto)
Niccolò Paganini – Caprice No 17 (Sostenuto, Andante)
Niccolò Paganini – Caprice No 18 (Corrente, Allegro)


September releases…

From September 26. 2011 you will find in all music stores and digital two new productions:

The first is the fifth volume of DUETS, a collection of CD+DVD dedicated to the meeting between contemporary music and jazz.
This time we talk about “voice” with two leading performers: Barbara Casini and Stelia Doz.
Barbara Casini, has devoted her life to the music, especially to the singing. Falls in love with Brazil, her second music homeland, she’s considered the most important performer of brasilian music in Italy. In this album she duets with one of the most appreciated and renowned guitarist, Riccardo Bianchi and Beppe Fornaroli, with whom she collaborated for several years.
They proposed unpublished tracks, able to charm the audience with the typical passionate and enveloping notes of Brazilian music.
At the end will be the beautiful voice of the soprano, Stelia Doz, accompanied by the pianist and musicologist, Guido Salvetti, to close this album, with a touching interpretation of “In Mittagstraum”, one of three lieder on George, written by the Italian composer Alessandro Solbiati, on lyrical by Stefan George.

For more info about the album, please click here.

The second production  is the new CD of the Italian accordionist Corrado Rojac.
First Italian earning an accordion Diploma at a State Conservatorio, Corrado Rojac is considered one of the most important italian accordionists. In addiction to an intense soloist and chamber activity, this eclectic artist is engaged to the development of contemporary accordion’s literature, working with many composers and offering first performances of many pieces.
In this CD, he takes the listener into a suggestive journey to the discovery of the accordion, proposing tracks linked by a common thread: the musical topos of the variation.
The album opens with some of Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685-1750) Partitas on “O Gott du frommer Gott”, originally written for the organ, and ends with a fundamental piece of the German accordion repertoire, Hans Brehme‘s Paganiniana, touching leading authors, like: Ettore Pozzoli, Anatoli Kusjakov and Gianluca Verlingieri.

For more info about the album, please click here.


In praise of the viola

By Virginio Sala

The viola is an interesting instrument, whose role unfortunately is often misunderstood by the layman (and for some time in the past also among the musicians) – partly because of its (sort of) intermediate position between the violin and the cello  in the bowed instruments family. But the great composers, of the past and of our time, has always been well aware of its meaning. It suffices to remember that Johann Sebastian Bach liked to play the viola in ensemble music: his deep concerns for the architectural building of music led him unerringly to this instrument, «as from this central location he could best observe the unfolding of the whole work», as Karl Geiringer observed.

We recently had a few occasions to hear a wonderful instrument, the «viola Maggini» played by Danilo Rossi, and to appreciate the enchanting qualities of the viola, when skillfully mastered by a great musician. The «viola Maggini» takes her name from Giovanni Paolo Maggini (1580-1632), who created it: it is, then, a four centuries old instrument, that at the end of the nineteenth century was owned by Count Antonio Freschi Cucanea di Cordovado (Padova), a musical instruments collector but also a musician, pupil of a well-known violin player, Antonio Bazzini. His nephew, Nicoletta Freschi in Piccolomini, gave the viola to Dino Asciolla (1920-1994), one of the most important performers of the twentieth century, as a soloist and as a member of many ensambles (among them, the unforgotten «Quartetto italiano») and dedicated teacher in many public institutions, in italy and abroad. Valeria Mariconda Asciolla then gave the instrument to Danilo Rossi, according to the will of her husband.

Danilo has a strong and affectionate relationship with this viola, whose beauty, as a craftsmanship’s masterwork and as a musical instruments, is still growing every year. You cannot play the viola as if it were a bigger violin – emphasizes Rossi: this instrument has its own personality and has to be played according to its own technique, in particular for the mastering of the bow. In 1752 Johann Joachim Quantz stated that «the viola was of little consequence in music and that its players lacked ability» – from there stems the bias against the viola, at best considered as a second choice for untalented violinists (but don’t forget: Paganini was also a great viola player: for him Berlioz wrote his Harold in Italy). From the instruments’ maker point of view, it is also a difficult object to build, and that can at least partly explain its unfortunate record, against the long and successful history of the violin; it certainly explains why there were many different designs, with different body lengths (the classical from 37,5 to 39,5 cm, or 14,75 to 15,25 in; more recently from 40 to 43 cm, 15,75 to 17 in).

A handful of great players battled, in the twentieth century, and were able to conquer again a central position for the viola: Roger Primrose and Lionel Tertis, Piero Farulli, Dino Asciolla, Bruno Giuranna, Yuri Bashmet reevaluated and further developed the specific technique of the instrument, and brought it again to the foreground, supported by many composers, who greatly expanded and improved the repertoire.

Back to the Baroque Era and to the early great violin-makers, a quote from Karl Geiringer Instruments in the History of Western Music:

Italy, which had first developed the modern forms of the stringed instruments, remained their center of production. In consequence of an unbroken workshop tradition, and favored by a lively demand – especially from France – certain towns of Italy and the neighboring Tirol achieved supremacy in this field. Although stringed instruments of every type were made, the main object of the master-craftsmen was the improvement and refinement of the «queen of instrument», the violin, The first important center of violin-making was Brescia; its oldes eminent master was Gasparo da Salò (1540-1609). The very few examples of his work that have come down to us are still somewhat old-fashioned in detail, but they none the less show the typical shape, which was later to become the norm. Gasparo’s pupil was Giovanni Paolo Maggini, in whose person the Brescia school reached its zenith. Following at first in the footsteps of his master, he eventually made his own richly ornamented model, notable for its low ribs and lightly waisted middle bout. Maggini’s instruments are distinguished by a mild, yet sonorous tone-quality.

The same general observations can be made for their violas: unfortunately, very few instruments of the Brescia’s school remain today, but they are witnesses of the high quality of the production of those workshops, decades before the leadership in this field moved from Brescia to Cremona and to the celebrated families of the Amatis and Stradivaris.

November 18 at the Teatro alla Scala we will have a chance to appreciate the viola Maggini and the powerful technique (but also the musical depth of interpretation) of its owner, Danilo Rossi, performing with Stefano Bezziccheri the two Brahms’s Sonatas for viola and piano. But if you cannot come to Milan for that occasion, don’t miss the new CD/DVD of the duo, where it will be possible to listen to that wonderful instrument and see it in the foreground. On the DVD there is also an interesting interview I made to Rossi and Bezzicheri; another one, with Danilo Rossi, will be soon on air on’s Channel 1, where Rossi describes at length his relationship with the great viola players and with his instrument.