January 16, 2021

Sherlock Homes wanted to be a violinist … and Spanish

Sherlock Homes wanted to be a violinist ... and Spanish


The "Spanish Symphony" of Lalo offers a golden excuse for, in the small space of a few hundred words, to speak of Lalo himself, Sarasate, Spain, Tchaikovsky … and Sherlock Holmes.

Who in his childhood or early youth has not wanted to be a little older like Sherlock Holmes? Well, the truth is that Holmes himself did not like to be himself. Who really wanted to look was the greatest violinist of all time, Melitón Pablo de Sarasate y Navasqués, born in Pamplona, ​​Navarra, Spain. Because one thing is certain: compared to the preternatural sounds that Sarasate drew from his Guadagnini -although he had two Stradivarius, one of them was given to him by Isabel II, his favorite was a Guadagnini-, Holmes did not value his deductive capacity at all.

In "The League of the Redheads", the fourth of the Sherlock Holmes stories published in "The Strand" in 1981 (when Sarasate was still alive) and then compiled in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", the detective stops the investigation in its tracks and convinces Watson to leave his practice and his patients to accompany him to "listen to Sarasate in St. James's Hall." The first is the first.

Six years before the publication of the story, in February of 1875, one of the most famous successes of the Navarrese violinist's life had taken place: the premiere in Paris of the "Spanish Symphony" by the French composer (but descendant of Spaniards) Édouard Lalo, dedicated to Sarasate and composed thinking precisely of him (although, curiously, he has no passage to two strings of those who made the Spanish virtuoso famous). The work, although it is called "symphony" is actually a concert for violin in five movements of which the third, the intermezzo, it used to be omitted in the past. Just three years later, when Tchaikovsky was recovering from his marriage disaster resting Switzerland, his favorite student came from Berlin loaded with understanding and scores, including the "Symphonie espagnole" Lalo. It was this music that convinced him to interrupt the writing of a piano sonata and to start composing his violin concerto, Op. 35.

A hundred years ago, Spain was in fashion because, among other things, geniuses like Sarasate swarmed from Dresden to London and from Copenhagen to Turin, leaving the world open with jaws from Navarre and Basque zorcs. Motifs of the Spanish folklore will sound again this Wednesday in the National Auditorium, created by the Iberian people in the night of the centuries, passed through the sieve of the genius of a Frenchman with Spanish blood, interpreted by a London orchestra the London orchestra, the LSO- under the baton of a Santander (Jaime Martín) and with a German violinist (Christian Tetzlaff) playing a german violin.

On this last point one can not help but thank Ibermúsica for the happy opportunity to listen to Christian Tetzlaff in Madrid. People who have already decided to attend the concert must read this article written about the musician by Jeremy Eichler for "The New Yorker". And people who have not yet decided to go to the Auditorium on Wednesday will be sent to get an entry if they read it. Here is some information as a sample:

· Tetzlaff does not approve of "the stradivarius cliché" and therefore plays a modern violin made by Stefan-Peter Greiner, who models his instrument paying special attention to the frequency range in which the human voice moves: 2,000 – 4,000 hertz.

· In the nineties she explained her opinion about the violin concerto for Giorgi Ligeti in an interview and, shortly after, received a postcard with the following text: "I have read your interview and I feel very close to you. PERFECTLY, but also speaks of him with understanding and compassion For a live composer, the most beautiful thing is for an interpreter to understand him so well ". Signed: Giorgi Ligeti.

· Tetzlaff not only has the index of the right hand deformed to the right as many violinists but also suffers a very painful neurodermatitis in the fingertips of the left hand. He has static bicycles installed in his hotel rooms and practices exercising (especially cold climates) to alleviate the pain somewhat. Sometimes fingers are smeared with honey for this very purpose.

And one can not help but be intrigued to listen like this musician who cites paragraphs by Nietsche and who at 16 had read the complete work of Thomas Mann, an analytical, northern violinist who took his first steps on the international circuit with the plúmbeo concert for violin of Schönberg, with the delicious frivolities, the cheerful chiquillerías of the "Symphonie espagnole".

In a record store whose name I do not want to remember, I bought a Musidisc album that is 53 years old but still remains a kid with the work of Lalo played by David Oistrakh. What the great fat man does, already in his last maturity, in the final stages of walking and the initials of rondo, it is hardly describable, but it gets into the soul with enough authority and forever. The Russian (Ukrainian) plays on this record, and in that particular passage, one of the six stradivarius of the Soviets (the Marsick). He, like his entire generation, did believe in the "cliché stradivarius". Tetzlaff does not know but the bar is very high.

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