Letter: Playing second fiddle to Mahler's music

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your reviewer, Robert Cowan, taken by surprise at the London Symphony Orchestra's Mahler Festival concert last Sunday when the leader came on to the platform with two fiddles, should have peeped into the score beforehand. The composer requires the solos in the second movement of his Fourth Symphony to be played on a violin tuned up one tone (A, E, B, F- sharp).

This gives a more edgy and deliberately less charming quality to the music. Any attempt to re- tune by as much as this, in the short breathing space between movements, in a hot concert hall, could spell disaster] It does, however, add a new dimension to the term 'second fiddle'.

Yours faithfully,

BRIAN HAWKINS

Head of Strings

Royal College of Music

London, SW7

11 October

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