Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
October 1, 2018

For most of us who are non-violinists, the habit of being a non-violinist is something that seldom barrels its way to the forefront of our consciousness. We view our non-violinist condition with the same fundamental ennui – punctuated by the occasional twinge of regret – that we feel about being non-lottery-winners, about being non-supermodels, or about lacking the ability to waggle our ears. Being a purely negative state of mind, the condition scarcely counts as a state of mind at all.

Then someone like Ilya Gringolts arrives. Whereupon, all at once, the non-violinist condition metamorphoses from a trivial minus into an active cause for heartfelt gratitude. Because nine violinists out of 10, if confronted with Gringolts’ brilliant mastery of his instrument, would feel envious almost to the point of nausea.

It should surprise no-one that various other string-players have spoken with awe of Gringolts’ talents. So must Fritz Kreisler have felt when, on hearing the young Jascha Heifetz, he told an assembly of fellow master-fiddlers: “Gentlemen, we might as well break our violins over our knees.” Or, to quote the only slightly exaggerated PR copy that accompanied the late keyboard pyrotechnician Raymond Lewenthal on...

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