Day By Day

Monday, November 02, 2009

Last night instead of watching the Pathetic Phillies succumb to to the New York team we journeyed up to Shriver Hall on the Hopkins campus to hear a concert by Midori Goto and Robert McDonald.

Midori is the latest in a long line of violin virtuoso prodigies. She started studying music at the age of two, gave her first public recital at the age of seven [playing Paganini]. At eleven she was enrolled in a program at Julliard. Her audition piece was "Chaccone" by Bach, one of the most difficult pieces for violin ever composed. A few months later she made her concert debut with the New York Philharmonic. What were you doing when you were eleven? One of her most famous performances came at Tanglewood when she was fourteen. Performing Bernstein's "Serenade" [with Bernstein himself conducting] she broke an e-string. Not missing a beat she borrowed a violin from the Concertmeister and when a second string broke, borrowed an instrument from his assistant and continued to play. Here's a recording of the crucial part of this performance.

What you don't see in the video is that at the end of the number, Bernstein knelt before her in sheer awe at her talent.

While not as famous as Midori, Robert McDonald is an extremely accomplished chamber performer and accompanist. He teaches at Julliard and has collaborated with Midori for decades.

Here is a performance they gave about two decades ago when Midori was only nineteen. They were a great team then, and are even better now.

The piece they perform on the video was the conclusion to last night's concert. It was not, however the high point. That was her performance of Bach's "Sonata for Solo Violin in G Minor". The fugue movement was long considered too difficult for anyone to play and Schubert even composed a piano accompaniment for it on the assumption that it would never be performed solo. Midori did it easily. Here's a clip of Henryk Szeryng attempting it. He gets through, but has to play it slowly. Midori played it at normal speed.