9 tips on playing the Ravel and Debussy quartets


Franck Chevalier, viola player of the Quatuor Diotima, gives advice on how to approach the most celebrated French additions to the quartet repertoire

Kai Bienert;

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Opinion: A teenage cellist on spreading the love for classical music


Megan Clarke, a 16-year-old cellist in the National Youth Orchestra, is on a mission to communicate her love of classical music to other young people

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‘If I want the bigger Sibelius symphonies in my life, the Bruckners and Mahlers, then I am going to have to learn to conduct’
Adventurous violinist Pekka Kuusisto talks to Andrew Mellor about his predilection for finding new challenges – including a recent shift to the conductor’s podium.

‘The presence of Calcium soap on the “Spagnoletti” indicates the use of a lubricant’
Giacomo Fiocco reports on a recent study of a trio of Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ instruments, examining everything from the varnish composition to the f-hole design.

‘I had never quite prepared for my musical performances in the way that I had for my sports matches.’
Taking inspiration from sports science, Berenice Beverley Zammit reports on how string players can physically prepare themselves for peak performance.

‘What appealed to me most was this viola’s soft quality. This was the sound through which I wanted to express myself’
Violist Hélène Clément tells Carlos María Solare about her latest recording of works by two accomplished viola players: Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten.

‘It is fascinating that the frog shares some of the distinctive features of the head.’
Richard Morency identifies some of Eugène Sartory’s. working methods through a detailed examination of one of his middle-period bows

‘I don’t know where I’d be without yoga. The better my body is working, the more efficient I can be’
Multifaceted violinist Elena Urioste talks with Toby Deller about everything from yoga to starting up her own festival.



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    Opinion: Playing by numbers


    In theory, it is possible for a student to gain their ABRSM Grade 8 having only learnt 24 pieces in their life. Davina Shum argues that such a quantified approach to learning is no way to become a rounded musician

  • Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

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    Opinion: The power of imagination


    To enhance a pupil’s learning, it is useful to build a list of words and catchphrases that conjure images relating to different techniques. Jeffrey Howard introduces his own ‘violin vocabulary’

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    Opinion: A New Deal for Early Music


    Covid-19 has highlighted the economic inequalities that divide musicians who perform on period instruments from the majority of today’s string players, says Andrew Mellor

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    Opinion: Reset, refresh, restore


    As teachers and pupils return to in-person lessons, cellist Naomi Yandell examines why it is more important than ever to re-examine students’ goals and priorities, and take nothing for granted

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    Why can't players get vibrato right?


    Vibrating need not compromise purity of tone if it's done tastefully, says Tully Potter, who takes to task those who overplay, misplay or completely disown it. From October 2009

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    Opinion: It takes three


    As the Sitkovetsky Trio celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, lead violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky looks back at the lessons he and his colleagues have learnt

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    Opinion: Live for the moment


    Classical musicians and audiences can learn from stand-up comedy shows, where there’s a naturalness and immediacy of interaction between performers and the crowd, writes Rita Fernandes

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    Opinion: To speak plainly


    Teaching a young student with Down’s syndrome has taught Jacqueline Vanasse the value of simple concepts and hands-on rewards

  • DudokQt


    Opinion: Playing the game


    In addition to technical mastery, musicians need to understand the ‘game rules’ of every performing tradition and musical culture, write Dudok Quartet Amsterdam musicians Judith van Driel and David Faber

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    Opinion: Dare to be different


    When selecting repertoire for that crucial audition it’s an advantage to avoid predictable choices, writes Julian Lloyd Webber, who suggests alternatives for cellists

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    Opinion: Across the decades


    Karen Gomyo revisits recordings by ‘golden age’ violinists, and explores why these performances are still so meaningful today

  • Hsin-Yun Huang


    Opinion: Relaxed body, focused mind


    The art of Chinese calligraphy has much to teach us about playing a stringed instrument, writes violist Hsin-Yun Huang

  • SoloComposers

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    Opinion: Solo exploring


    There is so much more to the unaccompanied violin repertoire than the works of Bach, Paganini and Ysaÿe, writes James Dickenson

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    Opinion: An integrated whole


    By divorcing technique from the music, we prevent the bow from becoming an extension of our right arm and hand, writes John Crawford

  • LvdH_Performing


    Opinion: Touching a nerve


    Although nervous energy can lead to inspired playing, it can also result in performance anxiety – unless we find ways to control it, writes cellist Laura van der Heijden

  • Debussy


    Opinion: A new light


    Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola and harp is just one of many works written for that combination, and is a prime example of how loosening fixed traditions can open new and exciting sound worlds, writes Toby Deller

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    Building an international profile for French violinists


    In comparison with its array of top-level cellists and string quartets, France’s violin soloists seem in general to attract less media attention globally. Charlotte Gardner investigates the causes

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    Opinion: Defining relevance


    Classical musicians can feel concerned about their lack of consequence in the ‘real’ world. But, as the pandemic has shown, the art form is needed now more than ever – and it’s up to performers to make the case, writes Andrew Mellor

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    Opinion: Original and the best?


    Scouring the archives for early drafts is fine in the name of research, but when it comes to performance, the composer’s revised version is usually the more satisfying option, writes Charlotte Gardner

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    Opinion: From the Heart


    In the Covid-19 crisis, musicians have begun to film their playing from home. Andrew Mellor asks whether these raw and sometimes less-than-pristine performances have killed off classical music’s ‘cult of perfection’

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    After Corona, pay inequality among musicians will be unsustainable


    The great disparity in wages between soloists and rank-and-file musicians has been highlighted by the Covid-19 crisis, writes Andrew Mellor

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