Friday, November 05, 2004

Fiddle glut

If you pronounce this title with a Danish accent, it sounds like an interesting pre-Christmas drink... But in the past 10 days or so I've been able to hear Leonidas Kavakos, Julian Rachlin and Nikolaj Znaider and, as a self-confessed violin fetishist, I'm feeling most pleasantly punch-drunk already. I got to sleep last night by counting fiddlers and got to 16 (or was it 17), any of whom I'd be more than willing to travel to the Barbican to hear and many of whom, to my astonishment, are under 40.

Here are a few of them, in no order whatsover: Kavakos, Rachlin and Znaider, as above; Hilary Hahn, Josh Bell, Lisa Batiashvili, Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin, Sarah Chang, Renaud Capucon, Thomas Zehetmair, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Viktoria Mullova, Andrew Manze, Gil Shaham, Tasmin Little, Philippe Graffin, Janine Jansen, Daniel Hope, Leila Josefowicz, Alina Ibragimova. And possibly Nigel Kennedy. That's 22, without even trying, and I'm sure I've missed a few. It's a sobering thought to realise that Mutter, Mullova and Kennedy are in the upper age-range in such company.

What happened? How come there's such a fabulous forest springing up now? Is it the influence of powerful teachers like Zakhar Bron, the Menuhin School and the late Dorothy Delay? Did the bright young things find inspiration in figures such as Zukerman and Perlman, or seeing the success of youthful stars like Nige or Mutter with whom they could identify? I'd like to look into this. About 20 years ago there was a similar glut among brilliant cellists, who in many cases had been inspired by seeing Jacqueline du Pre when they were very small; and also flautists, who adored James Galway.

To the fifty-somethings Zukerman and Perlman, we can now add Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Pierre Amoyal, Augustin Dumay and, omygod, Gidon Kremer...

Counting fiddlers is a good way to induce sleep at times of world stress and fierce argument here in Sheen. There is depression over America; and I went to the London Symphony Orchestra last night only to spot none other than the leader of the London Philharmonic sitting in the driving seat beaming up at Rostropovich and Znaider, while the LPO had had to get a guest leader in. None of this makes for a quiet life.