Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto no. 3 - 1st movement
Alex Goldberg (violin) with Dina Vainshtein (piano)
“Always think bigger than yourself”
— Benjamin Zander
So you’re a great player. Amazing for fifteen years old. I love the fact you have Milstein’s name. A recording of this piece is unbelievable heard as is. Beautiful, really. But you play very, very beautifully. All I would ask you to do is to give up your inhibitions.
Naturally, you have inhibitions. For one thing, you’re a boy. You’re fifteen. Secondly, you come from New England, and that’s just the start of it. This music is without inhibition. When a composer writes Appassionata over his music, you know that he means something out of the ordinary because all music is passionate. Right, why did he say Appassionata? So this is an invitation to tremendous freedom of timing, freedom of the bow, freedom of the sound, freedom of your body, freedom of expression should we try that, and you have an amazing thing happen because the composer has given you four bars of the introduction.
Mendelssohn concerto, you just get boom, and you meet it. Bump up, you know. He gives you four bars, and it’s a long, long time because nothing happens in those four bars, so what’s going to happen when you come in. So, let’s see. No, no, that’s only two of them. That’s more like it. Oh boy. Oh, free as you can be toward here or try that. Let’s see how long it really is. Right and one two, one two, one. Oh my god, here it comes. The fifteen-year-old New England kid’s suddenly got transformed into a devil. Into a gypsy. That’s gypsy music; that’s where it comes from.
And isn’t it amazing that he has four bars? I mean, the built-up expectation. And nothing happens—complete silence. Just do one of them that’s not a pass, or not a pass you notice, when you’re free.
The real freedom in this format. Just one bar, and then you’ll come in. There’s one other thing. When you get the long note, don’t let it die. Almost crescendo through it: one bar, freeze, accent accent accent accent accent accent accent accent accent accent accent. Right, every note has an accent. That’s amazing. He doesn’t trust the player at all.
They do what it is. Good now we’re coming, we’re coming, we’re coming, we’re coming. We’re leaving New England far behind. Here we go. Here we go. Can you play with that? Would you see with glasses? Would you see without your glasses? Yeah, you already see a little. Yeah, take them off and see what you can. Close your eyes, that’s all.
Here we go, one bar. Yes. And little flaws. You know, you think they’re applauding you, but they’re not actually applauding you; they’re applauding themselves because they suddenly realize, my God, I could do that too.
Not on the violin, but in my life. I could actually stop being that boring thing that I am. I could. And do something incredible and think some fantastic thoughts and fall in love again. You know all of that. I could do that. That’s what music does. “Thank you for opening up my life,” that’s what they’re saying. It’s great. And you’re just beginning to find out about it, and they say, “Wow. That was great. Go on, go on, go on, go on. let’s see what happens next.”
When you practice at home, when you play, play the music right. Find the shape. Find the direction. Which is more? The first one or the second? Do the first one as much as you can, and then do the second one more. No, you’re practicing again. When you didn’t practice, when you played it, this guy’s face lit up. Right, so your job is still to light up his face. Not difficult. It is very easy to light up because he’s Israeli. So, he knows he has the emotion. It’s very close to his heart.
Now, you’re going to open up his heart. Here we go. Oh, that’s not what it does. Okay, please show me what he does. And the advantage of that is it includes the audience because then they have something to say. You created a relationship. And they’re great.
Always think bigger than yourself. Yourself is great, but it’s not enough. Include the whole world. Alright, one more time. Oh, I think that that needs a little bit of time. Do you remember I was talking with the trio just now about needing time? Wherever you see an opportunity to take time, take it. So that’s one. Just do the line in there that you know.
This is our ideal listener because he’s ready. He’s ready to be touched, to be moved, to be instructed, to be emboldened, to be loved. Right he’s just sitting there waiting and that we wished everybody in life was like that. Please, when you grow up, be like that. Be available. And then our job is to fill that heart with what the music has to offer.
And he’ll respond just like that actually; everybody will. Some people express it less than he does, but everybody feels. That was great. I love the time you took. So beautiful, and he’s ready to be touched. That was great. You were doing fantastic. It’s good.
It could be a little better right there. Right, so do it again. What you need is a tiny little bit more bow for the elbow. Yeah, it’s great. It’s great. The violin is an amazing instrument because most instruments, when you get low, get softer. The violin gets louder. Isn’t that great? So when you get down here, you can really tear the sound out of the instrument. Do it one more time, and see whether you can melt his heart once more. Unfortunately, this bowing doesn’t work very well unless you use a very little bow on that note, so you have plenty for that. Do it once again, the same thing, and make those notes melodic. Don’t play self-check exercises.
Oh, that was beautiful. There’s a lady in the third row she went like that she was so happy with that note. Thank you for being available. This time apassionata. The last time espressivo, you know the difference between passion and expressive rights. They do from there, but this is very interesting as she says, “Dolce espressivo.” That’s two moods as the procedure is full of emotion. She’s full of sweetness. Tenderness and love come in very handy later on in life.
Okay, here we go, with you; you make a crescendo here. I beg to differ. I think this is beautiful the way he wrote it. You did that exquisitely. Beautiful, beautiful, how doth she see motion? Now we saw a transformation in this room in the last half-hour from a young boy, a young New England guy, into a man. An artist. A communicator. A lover. Somebody who has the capacity to pull people out of their normal life into something very special. To remind them of all that’s available in life, and that’s a great gift. It’s a huge gift. It’s a gift you have, a gift you give, and you can make a great life out of that gift.
I’m really happy to meet you and to know you’re there and that you can do that and I invite you always to play from there, never from the fingers. Use the violin in your technique but use it to communicate with people, and you did that just then.
There was a woman in the back row who was stunned by your playing just now. Absolutely stunned. She went wow right after. That’s what we’re after. We’re after that reaction, and you did it just now, and you probably will never go back. Now, this is one of those transformational moments in your life.
Very exciting. Keep in touch.