Technique: Itzhak Rashkovsky on Sostenuto

Itzhak Rashkovsky

The violinist shares his thoughts on sostenuto and how to sing on the violin

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In my teaching experience I have come to view sostenuto as a key focal point, meriting a lot of detailed attention. Sostenuto is often considered to be the ability to hold notes for a long time (son filé). However, I apply it more widely, to include the ability to listen and to follow every note from the beginning to the end (whether the note is long or short, separate or legato), and to connect it to other notes mirroring the human voice as closely as possible. Sostenuto applies mostly to music of the Romantic period (it is completely different from Baroque bowing) and there is no doubt that it is the greatest gift that God gave to string players. Without an understanding of sostenuto we interfere with nature and break the musical line by playing bowings rather than phrases, with a discernible diminuendo on the down bow and a crescendo on the up bow…

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