Exclusive: I recorded the Beethoven concerto with a broken index finger

Exclusive: I recorded the Beethoven concerto with a broken index finger

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norman lebrecht

May 29, 2021

The exceptional Russian violinist Alena Baeva was due to record the Beethoven concerto in France.

When the date came round last October, she was six months pregnant.

Then she slipped and fell in Paris on a wet pavement, breaking the index finger of her right hand.

That’s when the spirit of Stalingrad kicked in.

Alena tells slippedisc.com:

‘My index finger on the right hand was diagnosed as broken. It had to be kept fixed and immobilized. I tried to practice like that but it was very painful.

‘Some days before recording I got a second opinion that it was a contusion and I should urgently work with physiotherapist despite the pain, otherwise the finger will lose mobility. It was quite a journey into finding myself being able to play again (and for an audience!) after three weeks of silence and fear, to enjoy precious music-making, and manage the pain after exercises.

‘So this Beethoven recording actually saved my finger!’

And she has a little girl.

Comments

  • Ricardo says:

    Respect!

  • Brent J says:

    Where can we listen?

  • Novagerio says:

    At least it was the bow hand…

  • Herbie G says:

    I see. This brings to mind the story of Bert Trautmann, the Manchester City goalie who, during the 1956 Cup Final, broke his neck but played on until the end, at which City won 3-1.

    Is this performance a winner too? I damn well hope that it won’t get a top rating, excelling recordings by Grumiaux, Szeryng, Neveu et al. If it does, there will be a load of hitherto unknown young violinists rushing to break their index fingers too in order to better her performance. Why stop at that? How about a broken wrist, arm or back? Or, of course, a broken neck, a la Trautmann?

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I admire her determination. My own bow grip was called “ham fisted” by a prior teacher, so the fine balance of a true professional is hardly the point for me, but even a slight blister or burn on a right hand finger is so distracting as to make concentration on the task at hand a big challenge. And the Beethoven Concerto is no ordinary task at hand.

  • henry williams says:

    it proves the the life of a professional
    musician is not easy.

  • Nijinsky says:

    I find this quite typical with doctors. Had she not gotten a second opinion her career could have been over. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-bruise#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
    And it looks like standard knowledge that it could be one or the other, and without care for proper treatment, this regarding someone who NEEDS to use their fingers.

    There was a Dutch violinist who needed surgery (Herman Krebbers) because he had a fall, but there wasn’t ONE doctor in the country that would do it in time, because of the nonsense regarding insurance. Neither the insurance industry nor the medical establishment, were they in working condition, would cause such problems.

    I could go on and on, fortunately, I’ve had healing where it’s not supposed to happen, from what would be called miracles, but that’s no different than music isn’t entertainment. It’s how one looks at life and what one is given.

  • Whingers unite says:

    yes and so what!

    Hubermann – wrist and two fingers of his left hand were broken

    Perlmann had polio

    Cziffra was assigned to a work crew building a stone staircase, and the heavy stones took a toll on his body. His hands and fingers swelled up daily, and in order to avoid this, Cziffra bound his wrists tightly with leather straps.
    As a consequence of his torture in the camp and the work he was obliged to do, his wrist tendons were stretched out of shape permanently.

    Django Reinhardt lost the use of 2 fingers after a fire.

    By age seven, Ray Charles was blind

    Stevie Wonder born premature, was rushed into an incubator.
    An excess of oxygen caused him to lose his sight.

    Ian Dury was stricken with polio, and it left him with a shrunken arm and a hobbled gait.

    Tony Lommi of Black Sabbath At 17, lost the tips of the middle and ring fingers on his right hand in an accident at a sheet metal factory.
    Though he considered quitting music, Iommi came up with the clever solution of making caps for his damaged fingers, which he did by melting plastic bottle tops, then covering them with leather.

    try that and stop moaning!
    Millenials are always whinging then getting publicity for it.

  • Piatigorsky had a tale of breaking his thumb the day of a performance:

    “… By the time of the concert the thumb of my right hand, swollen and red, was barely capable of holding the bow. Yet I played. Desperately I tried not to let the bow fall out of my hand. I held it in my fist and so brought the first movement of the Dvorak Concerto to a conclusion.

    “We began the adagio. The pain was intolerable, and before the beautiful movement ended I couldn’t hold back the tears running down my face. It took an unusually long time to proceed to the finale. No wonder! After such a touching performance many were crying with me. It was a “triumph,” and echoes of it reached my ears long after the doctor took off the cast from my thumb.”

  • Edgar Self says:

    Yes, the great violinist Bronislaw Hubermann broke hois left wrist and two fingers of his left hand in 1938 in an airplane crash in Sumatra but resumed his career after painful therapy. That same year he founded the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, forerunner of the Israel Philharmonic, with refugee Jewish musicians.

  • henry williams says:

    klemperer had a stroke but was still a
    great conductor.

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