Salvatore Accardo: Masterclass in Cremona - Volume 1
With Lucia Luque and Laura Marzadori (violins)
Audio PCM 2.0: Colour: 16:9: Region 0: NTSC: Subtitles English, Japanese. Chinese, Korean
DYNAMIC DVD 33693 [72:00]
In these two roughly 36-minute master classes Salvatore Accardo is shown giving instruction to two young Italian fiddle players. The location is the Accademia Walter Stauffer in Cremona, and the practice room is by no means luxurious. One of the pleasures is to observe the green Venetian (or Cremonese) blinds, shut to keep out the sun, and the various stains on the walls. No wood panelled splendour here, and all the better for it, one feels. This is practical instruction, not playing for the camera.
Laura Marzadori goes through Beethoven’s Op.12 sonata in E flat major, or parts of it. Accardo, dressed casually in an open-necked blue shirt, balding now, listens intently without taking notes. But he recalls everything, and when they go back over the music, the analysis starts. Firstly, standing by her, he corrects her galloping triplets (put your subtitles on if you’re an Anglophone, or are Japanese, Chinese or Korean) and corrects her up and down bow decisions. He lengthens her chording, gets to grips with her rhythm. Then he begins an interesting conversation about ensemble problems, with Accardo advising the violinist to watch the right hand of the pianist at one structurally important and perilous point - the pianist in this case being the hard-working Maria Grazia Bellocchio. He even corrects the rushing pianist too. He confesses that Marzadori makes him nervous when she rushes toward the frog in one especially perilous bowing moment. Occasionally he explains by showing her on his violin how he’d prefer things were done, but these are collegiate meetings of musical minds, and he is not doctrinaire or dogmatic. Practical advice is dispensed and good musical sense, but there’s no question of blindly following. He prefers certain fingerings for reasons of expressiveness, and the use of a full bow. But he’s prepared to be befuddled at one or two points and the class is conducted in a relaxed, hard working but human way. At the end the pianist turns to him and says ‘I have an idea!’ Accardo pauses fractionally. ‘Ah, Dio’ he deadpans. A great way to end.
The avuncular but down to earth Accardo works on Lucia Luque’s Carmen Fantasy, once again with Maria Grazia Bellocchio. Here one finds more of a concentration on phrasing, articulation but again, tempo. He is very against rushing. He is clear that neither musician should ‘set each other off’ which one notices they are prone to do. The exchange over the pizzicato paragraph produces some interesting results: left or right hand pizzicati is the question? The answer concerns colour and articulation. ‘It changes everything’ Accardo says simply. Luque is the more extrovert of the two violinists, and the more unselfconscious, cracking a few good gags. She asks whether she can use a glissando at one point, admitting that she takes liberties sometimes. ‘It’s easier’ grins Accardo and the complicity between the two is delightful. He gets into more detail with her over phrasing (‘dolce’) and shows her how to stop going wrong when she plays harmonics; a simple but clearly effective solution - use the upper part of the bow and nowhere near the frog and not too much bow either.
These two classes last 72 minutes in total. They make for functional watching with nothing fancy to detain one from the music-making itself. That, in essence, is Accardo’s way too: direct, helpful, courteous, unflappable, practical, amused and amusing. Master class DVDs have a niche market and this one has no ancillary stuff, but for those who want to watch and learn from a great, unassuming musician, this one is succinctly efficient.
Functional watching with nothing fancy to detain one from the music-making itself.
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