New Suzuki Violin Recordings

by Rick Lohmann

We are recommending that our Santa Fe Talent Education families listen to a a different set of recordings of our Suzuki violin music. We are no longer going to have our families buy the William Preucil Jr. recordings that are bundled with the Suzuki books published by Alfred Publishing Co, the ones that we all have bought in the past. In other words, do not buy the book and CD combination, buy the book alone, without the CD.
Last summer, Bill Preucil was in Santa Fe preparing for his role in the 2018 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, when it was revealed that he had a history of sexual abuse and harassment, especially with young female students. He was immediately relieved of his duties with the Festival, as well as of with his duties with the Grand Teton Festival later in the  summer. Within a few weeks, the same happened with his wintertime job with the Cleveland Institute of Music and his job as Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. In comparison, both Alfred Publishing and the Suzuki Association of the Americas were very slow to respond, and remain so. We understand the reasons.
While the SAA goes through the process of what to do about re-recording our wonderful repertoire, which could be a very long time, we at SFTE are asking you to buy, and listen, to “Takako Nishizaki plays Suzuki Evergreens”, on Naxos. There are four CD’s available, on Naxos as CD’s, on Spotify+++, as well as Amazon. It should be noted that the first of of the Nishizaki CD’s includes the first TWO of the books.

One  thing that I love about Nishizaki’s recordings is the inclusion of the original sources of Shinichi Suzuki’s versions. Parents need to listen closely to these recordings before turning them on for their children, not to screen them, but to encourage them to explore and enjoy the original source music from which Suzuki drew his inspiration. It may take a tiny bit of attention to create the repetition tracks that are really necessary for the internalization of new material.
Below, I give the Amazon link to the first volume (Books 1&2), though the recordings are available from countless other sources as well.

Here are some of my personal notes about the Volume 1 recording:
-Twinkle theme is too fast. (This is also true of the Preucil recording)
-May Song is repeated on the recording. (Played twice) We do not repeat May Song in our teaching or in our performances.
You will also notice these interesting additions:
-Minuet One, Two , and Three are not labeled as such: they are given their original titles, and recordings of the original pieces follow Ms. Nishizaki’s performances!
We find out that the original version of Minuet 1 is an excerpt of the seventh movement of the Overture in G Minor for harpsichord, BWV 822,  and we hear a recording by harpsichordist Robert Hill.
-Both the Minuet Two and Three are from the Clavierbuchlein for Anna Magdalena Bach, and the original versions, performed by Terence Dennis, follow the Suzuki versions.
-The Schumann “Happy Farmer” is followed by the original, Album fur die Jugend, op. 68, pt. 1, No. 10 “Happy Farmer”  for piano, performed by Rico Gulda.
-Chorus is followed by a brilliant version of the original “See, the conq’ring hero comes” by the Budapest Chorus and Hungarian State Orchestra- a real treat!
-Musette is labelled confusingly for the Suzuki family: it is labeled as the original, which is movement V; Gavotte II of the English Suite in G minor by Bach, which is what it really is. I find Takako Nishizaki’s version too picky and staccato. It is followed by the original piano version, played by Terence Dennis.
-Ms. Nishizaki’s Hunter’s Chorus is very well done, and the track of the original Hunters Chorus from “Der Freischutz” is brilliant!
-I love the suitably romantic tempo and style of her Brahms Waltz. Notice that the original piano version is a different key!
-Excellent performance of the Theme from Witches’ Dance by Paganini.
-Very graceful Gavotte from “Mignon”by Thomas and Lully Gavotte.
-The Beethoven Minuet in G and Boccherini are both well done. The original piano version of the Beethoven is good, as is the original Boccherini String Quintet Minuet movement.

Now, for Suzuki Violin Book 3, recorded as Volume 2 of “Suzuki Evergreens”, by Takako Nishizaki!
Track 1 is the Martini Gavotte, is clearly labelled, and well performed. There is no original music presented here.
Track 2 is the Minuet in Book 3, which is labeled “Clavierbuchlein fur Anna Magdalena Bach, Book 2, BWV Anh. 11(BWV3-132; Minuet in G major-minor BWV Anh. 114” There’s a mouthful: do you see why Suzuki shortened the title?
(BWV stands for Bach Werke Verzeichnis, or Catalog of Bach’s Work).
Tracks 3 and 4 are piano performances of the original two minuets that Suzuki pasted together, the minor and the major played by Janos Sebestyen.
Track 5 is our Gavotte in G minor, played by Nishizaki, though it is labeled the “Overture in G minor BWV 822:III Gavotte en Rondeau (Gavotte in Rondo form)”
Track 6 is the original harpsichord version, played by Robert Hill.I love it because of the wild embellishments Hill adds to the music in the repeats of the main theme, a tradition in Bach’s time. Students need to listen to this.
Track 7 is a gorgeous performance of our Humoresque! (No. 7 of Dvorak’s 8 Humoresques for Piano) Ahh, yes! It is labeled as Gb major, but it is not. It is in our Suzuki key of D major.
Track 8 is the piano version in the original key of Gb, a fact which your students, being Suzuki kids, will likely notice immediately, even if you don’t! Terence Dennis is the performer.
Track 9 is the Becker Gavotte, well done by Nishizaki, with no original version.
Track 10 is labeled as Overture (Suite) No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068 , but is Nishizaki’s tasteful performance of Suzuki’s arrangement. Gavotte in D major
Track 11 is the original movement III from the Orchestral Suite No. 3, done, as a few of the other orchestral recordings in this set are, by the Capella Istropolitana, conducted by Jaroslav Dvorak.
Track 12 is the Bach Bourree, given its original title, the Cello Suite in C major, Mvt. V. Our version is in G major. A BIG WARNING TO OUR STUDENTS HERE! THIS VERSION HAS AN Eb AS THE 4TH NOTE IN THE 2ND MEASURE AND AS THE LAST NOTE OF THE 4TH MEASURE OF BOURREE II. As good as this performance is, we will be asking you to take it out of your student’s listening sequence. Little things like this become important when a student is listening to a recording 10,000 times, which is what we want them to do!
Track 13 is the original version (with the original Ab in the cello version), done well, by Maria Kliegel. There are an infinity of fantastic recordings of these Six Bach cello suites available.

Takako Nishizaki Plays Suzuki Evergreens, Vol. 3 is Nishizaki’s recording of the music in our Violin Book 4. This is the point in the repertoire where either buying the CD’s outright or having a paid $9.99/month subscription to Spotify may be worth it to the Suzuki family. Spotify is free, with ads, but the listener cannot re-order tracks, pull tracks from a sequence, or create their own mp3/4, like they can from a CD or from a paid Spotify subscription.
I have mentioned that I love the original source material tracks that Nishizaki includes in her first two discs. Those continue, with orchestral versions of the Vivaldi and Bach Concerti in Books 4 & 5. I don’t want you to eliminate those from your students’ daily listening sequence. What you might want to take out are the Seitz Concerto movements that Nishizaki plays, but Suzuki did not include in his books:

Track 1
Track 2
Track 5

Next, take the two Lullabies, the Schubert, Track 7 & 8; and the Brahms, Track 9 & 10; and put them at the beginning, before Track 3.

So, if you’re slapping a Book 4 listening “tape” together, here’s your order:

Track 7
Track 8*
Track 9
Track 10**
Track 11
Track 3
Track 4***
Track 6
Track 12
Track 13
Track 14
Track 15
Track 16

*Brigid Steinberger, soprano, Ulrich Eisenlohr, piano- the original Schubert song.
**Mitsuko Shirai, Hartmut Höll, the original Brahms song
*** at the end of Track 4, there is transitional music into the beginning of the 2nd movement. Suzuki edited this music out. Do not be surprised.

I love Nishizaki’s heartfelt Seitz performances, particularly in the lyric sections. I also like that Track 15 is second violin alone of the Bach Double!

My review of CD 4- our Book 5- is coming soon. -RL

+++I, personally, use Spotify, because I already have a basic subscription. I also like Spotify because the artists get at least a tiny fraction of the fee. Tiny, yes, but it’s there. For YouTube, they get nothing. “Standard YouTube license” is baloney. The license is hardly ever, if ever, enforced.
These are online sources, other than Amazon, that Naxos, the publishers of the CD, recommend for the purchase of the disc. They are not available from Shar or Young Musicians. We do know that many of you want to buy things locally, and I have asked Julia at the Violin Shop to look for a wholesale provider for these CD’s. If any of you have any ides about another local retailer to ask, let me know -RL.

Barnes & Noble
Best Buy
cd universe
NaxosDirect US