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Was he strict with you? 'Yes, very -- much more than with any other pupils, where he was usually very polite with all his instructions -- joking, with a lot of charm so as not to insult them. But I was his son and should not care about that.'

Was there any friendly rivalry with other players, like Pikaisen and Klimov? 'Oh, yes, but they are not rivals, they are my most talented colleagues!'

The Royal Albert Hall début came in about 1953. 'One year before my father's, and I played the Beethoven and Khachaturian Concertos. Although Khachaturian dedicated his work to Father, and he recorded it several times with the composer conducting, it was my first recording for British Columbia (EMI) with Sir Eugene Goossens conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.'

But your playing was different -- much freer and more rhapsodic, in contrast to his classical nobility. 'I cannot answer that, because usually one paper would write that he was more classical and I more romantic, and another said the reverse. It is a very complicated question, but development started late when I became really devoted to the violin in 1945. While I was playing Lipinski, my fellow pupils had started performing Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Beethoven, so I began at such enormous speed that within four years I took the Budapest prize, and the Wieniawski a few years later.'

'To compensate for the delay, from the first I had to acquire a big technique by the time I was twenty, later adding repertoire and flexibility of sound colours. Perhaps at eighteen I played better technically than I do now -- my live competition performance of "Hymn to the Sun" from The Golden Cockerel by Rimsky-Korsakov was not so bad! Ernst Studies and Wieniawski Concerto No 2 came very easily, then I started playing a lot of sonatas -- the complete Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.

'I became more mature, always planning to build the phrases and improve articulation to find a perfection in music-making. But I never thought of becoming similar to father -- I never wanted to copy.

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Copyright © 9 February 2003 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK


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