There is a lot to love about the city as well. Last night, a friend and I attended a Faculty Recital at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University (a hop skip and jump from where I work). I like violin. I LOVE PIANO. This was a recital for violin and piano.
Last year, I heard the famous violinist Joshua Bell when he played with the Houston Symphony on his 300-year-old Stradivarius called the Gibson ex Huberman, which was made in 1713 during what is known as Antonio Stradivari's "Golden Era." Bell played the solos in the movie Ladies in Lavender and The Red Violin. (Sidebar: The Red Violin follows the life of a violin built in Italy in 1681, known for its rich red color, to a present-day auction in Canada where its secret is revealed). It has been said of Bell, "He plays like a god." I could write more about Bell. He is 40'ish and boyishly handsome but…
Sergiu Luca, Professor of Violin at Shepherd, is a phenomenal, riveting master of his instrument. A native of Rumania, Mr. Luca made his debut at age nine with Israel's Haifa Symphony. In 1965, he made his U.S. debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to play with the New York Philharmonic for a special tribute to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
Another breathtaking aspect of the evening was the instruments played. The Mozart Sonatas were played on a Sanctus Seraphin violin, made in Venice in 1733, believed to be the only example from the great Italian violin-making era to have survived in an original, unaltered state. The 1810 piano was made in Vienna by Michael Rosenberger of The Netherlands, and is an early six-octave piano, belonging to the first group of pianos fitted with pedals (six) instead of the knee levers previously used. It was an exquisite burled walnut and had three delicate legs.
The French repertoire by Ravel, Debussy and Saint-Saens was played on a 1829 violin made in Vienna by Nicolaus Sawicki and is believed to have been made for and owned by Paganini, who'd entrusted his 1741 Del Gesu (known as "the Canon) to the great virtuoso for repair and restoration. The 1829 violin is identical to, and probably the first copy of the Del Gesu.
Some enchanted evening…I don't think I breathed for 2 hours and that hasn't happened since I say Phantom of the Opera. I wish you could have been there.