Sally Thomas

The violin teacher shares her favourite tracks

February 12, 2012

Paganini 24 Caprices
James Ehnes

These caprices are so difficult that students forget each one has its own personality. Ehnes transcends the technical challenges, turning each caprice into a character piece, full of humour, drama and even melodrama. In Ehnes’s second recording of the work, released in 2009, he plays the 1715 ‘Marsick’ Stradivari. His ability to colour and control the sound is enhanced by this instrument, and his maturity shows in his approach to timing and tempo.

Rossini Heroines
Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Orchestra e coro del Teatro La Fenice/Ion Marin

I am captivated by Bartoli’s thrilling voice on this album, particularly her performances of the arias from Zelmira and Regina d’Inghilterra. Her technical facility is phenomenal and sends chills up my spine. I always ask my students to listen to this recording to encourage them to develop the same kind of fluid vocal technique, articulation, colour and drama in their playing. Any violinist would be envious of Bartoli’s wonderful integration of technique and expression.

Schubert Fantasie for piano duet D940
Vitya Vronsky, Victor Babin

My teacher Ivan Galamian played this recording to me on several occasions. The soulful playing of both Vronsky and Babin is so vocal and tender that one cannot fail to be moved. The sound is beautifully balanced and the pianists’ interpretation is poetic and lyrical.

Con Amore
Kyung Wha Chung, Phillip Moll (piano)

Kyung Wha’s playing is fresh and spontaneous on this album of short pieces. There is a timeless elegance and tenderness in her approach to rubato in transitions and phrase endings. Her effortless technique brings out the playful character of Elgar’s La Capriceuse, Wieniawski’s Caprice in A minor and Kreisler’s Dancing Doll. Overall she colours the sound beautifully with imaginative fingerings and variety of articulation. There is a precious, moving quality to this recording.

Schubert String Quintet in C major D956
Hollywood Quartet

This was the first music by Schubert I’d ever heard and I’ve been in love with his works ever since. So much has been written about this quintet, such as the suggestion that there’s an underlying theme of death, but I’ve never believed that – I think Schubert was always very upfront about his meanings.

Violin pedagogue Sally Thomas is teaching at Meadowmount School of Music, which runs at Westport, NY, US until 9 August

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