Monday, March 4, 2019

Talking to Vera Vaidman about her upcoming Tel Aviv concerts of J.S.Bach's unaccompanied works for violin and 'cello

Photo: Davide Iadiccio
On March 4th 2019, I spoke to violinist/violist Vera Vaidman in Tel Aviv. Born in St. Petersburg and in Israel since 1973, Ms. Vaidman’s international career as a recitalist, soloist and chamber musician has taken her to Europe and the USA. She teaches chamber music at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, Tel Aviv University and violin and viola at the Har Nof Conservatory, Jerusalem. Ms. Vaidman is about to embark on a series of concerts four weeks in succession in Tel Aviv, in which she will perform all the unaccompanied solo violin works of J.S.Bach and the ‘cello suites on viola.

PH: Ms. Vaidman, playing all these works in close succession seems like a mammoth undertaking.

Vera Vaidman: Actually, I do not know of anyone else who has done this on both instruments. I played Bach's complete works for solo bowed instruments in the Bargemusic concert series in Brooklyn, New York in March 2018 (Bach’s birthday month).. The concerts received ardent reviews. I have been playing the violin works all my life and have also recorded them. Performing them again is an opportunity to revisit the works and delve deeper into the music.

PH: And the ‘Cello Suites on viola?

VV: Actually, I only started playing the viola ten years ago...quite by chance. Three pupils of mine were performing Dvořák’s Terzetto for 2 violins and viola Op.74. The violist was unable to play and I stepped in at the last minute and took her part. Playing Bach on the viola has helped me to understand the violin works better.

PH: How would you guide the listener attending the concert series?

VV: The repertoire is much broader than what one imagines it to be. Bach intended the listener to “hear” the accompaniments in his inner ear. The audience should listen out for the works’ inner voices and “hidden” polyphony. These works, going well beyond anything that had been written in that genre, were revolutionary in Bach’s time and, in fact, they remain so today!

PH: will you be playing them by heart?

VV: Yes, and with all the repeats. In New York, I had to give up on repeats due to constraints of time, but will not omit them in Tel Aviv.

PH: What is your approach to playing Baroque music?

VV: I do not come from a background of playing on period instruments. I will be playing on aluminium-wound gut strings but with Baroque bows and will engage in some vibrato - not the kind suited to Romantic music, but for timbral warmth...not to be producing a sterile sound. I suppose you could call it music on the modern violin/viola but in the spirit of Baroque.

PH: Vera Vaidman, many thanks for your taking the time to share this information and your thoughts.

Friday March 8th at 11:00
Sonata 1001, Partita 1002 (violin), Suite 1012 (viola)
Friday March 15th at 11:00
Suite 1007 (viola), Sonata 1003, Partita 1004 (violin)
Friday March 22nd at 11:00
Suite 1008, Suite 1009 (viola), Suite 1005 (violin)
Friday March 29th at 11:30
Suite 1011, Suite 1010 (viola), Partita 1006 (violin)
The concerts will take place at the Israel Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv.