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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On cellos for the needy,
Schwarzkopf and replicating genius,
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice,

I had the pleasure of hearing the Luis Leguia cello 'live' recently ... yes, they've come to Pakistan too ... and I agree with your observations totally.

'Cellos for the needy' is not a bad idea. It's time we knocked some sense into the pricing of good quality musical instruments.

I am a recent convert ... to Music & Vision ... and love your page.

Mr Rafi, Pakistan

[PS: Totally heartbroken at the passing of Ms Schwarzkopf. However, she will live on in our hearts forever]

Dear Mr Rafi,

Thanks so much for writing, and for giving your opinion on the carbon-fibre cellos.

Yes, I was also very sad about Elizabeth Schwarzkopf. I don't know whether you have seen the BBC programme where she gives a masterclass to aspiring singers, but she was absolutely brilliant ... Not just the voice or the instructions (or the results!) but her wit and good humour and passionate encouragement.

I learned a lot, and that was without being a singer!!!!!!!!!!!


Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

Have you heard about this counterfeit Vivaldi, constructed by David Cope using a computer?

Edgar Petersen

Replicating genius

Dear Edgar,

No, but I completely and totally believe it. A great part of my last three years (after editing my husband and Jehoash Hirshberg's musicological masterpiece: The Italian Solo Concerto 1700-1760: Rhetorical Strategies and Style History (yours for an obscene amount of money, Boydell Press), I was contacted by another famous musicologist from Israel, Bella Brover-Lubovsky, to substantially edit HER (soon-to-be-published by IUP) masterpiece on Vivaldi (can't remember the working title, but it's another longie).

Hence you are addressing (by proxy, through their editor) two or three of the world's foremost Vivaldi experts, and it's news to me, anyway!!!!!!!!!!!

What isn't, as you'd expect, is the incredible complexity of Vivaldi's inspiration. Critical and exhaustive analysis of Vivaldi's oeuvre (yes, all of it, even the arias etc, chord progression by ruddy chord progression) reveals that, far from writing the same piece 1000 times, Vivaldi never even once repeated himself, and is seriously underrated in this regard. Our age has yet to discover the real Vivaldi, though it's bored to tears with Ye Four Seasons, ye A minor violin concerto and a handful of other works. The operas alone ... but don't get me started!!!!!!!!! The same thing, interestingly, occurred immediately after Vivaldi's death, when, except for a couple of earnest German bozos, he was almost completely forgotten, though his influence on other composers went on. And now, centuries later, he's still (mainly) undiscovered, the variety of his exuberant harmonic risk-taking (and the almost insanely risky experimentation with same) almost completely misunderstood ...

As for writing 'new' Vivaldi, well, it probably does sound a bit like Vivaldi, but no one (or computer programme) will ever be able to replicate genius.


Copyright © 8 September 2006 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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