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Charles Libove and David Nadien

Reflections on two spectacular violinists

By Eric Shumsky
Special to The Epoch Times
May 27, 2008

David Nadien. (Courtesy of www.shumskymusic.com)
David Nadien. (Courtesy of www.shumskymusic.com)

Two violin giants, Charles Libove and David Nadien, both living in Manhattan and both approaching 80 years old, are violinists who rival anyone on the scene today—they're even better.

Unfortunately, since music cannot be hung on the wall with million-dollar price tags, it is often taken for granted and valued in accord with the power of its marketing hype. Those rare, elegant musicians, then, who create auditory masterpieces are often rewarded with empty concert halls and a yawning public. But if the playing of the two aforementioned artists could be featured in a painting, the painting would be reserved for a most select wall at the Metropolitan Museum and entitled, "Great American Heroes Unsung."

Charles Libove and his wife Nina Lugovoy. (Courtesy of www.shumskymusic.com)

In the 1970s I first heard David Nadien, legendary among violinists, play a recital at a Manhattan mansion. I was immediately captivated with his incredible sound. He is a violinist of elegance and taste, influenced by those same greats who influenced my late father Oscar Shumsky a decade earlier—that influence spanned from 1862-1987 and included Kreisler, Heifetz, Elman, and the towering influence of Franco-Belgian Eugene Ysaye (1862-1931).

For many years David Nadien served as concertmaster with the New York Philharmonic. I remember vividly his Tschaikovsky Violin Concerto performance—a superb account, beautifully paced. His playing highlighted for me that which a violin is capable. He never abused the violin and yet seduced from its strings a sound so rich that I can recognize his playing anywhere—moreover, his playing inspires.

Charles Libove, a friend of Nadien, is an incredibly versatile musician. He played in his own string quartet and the Paganini Quartet as well. He served as concertmaster for the Columbia Broadcasting Orchestra featuring Glen Gould in a recording of the Bach Concerti. Mr. Libove and his extremely gifted wife, the wonderful pianist Nina Lugovoy, performed as a duo, playing the entire violin/piano repertoire in many major cities throughout the world. Most recently I heard a staggering account of a Dohnanyi sonata performed by Libove and his wife.

Charlie (as his friends affectionately know him) is one of the most wonderful violinists I have ever had the pleasure to hear and observe. His playing is so effortless. His bow arm is perfect and a model of economy. He is very humble, yet certainly he knows his worth.

Both Libove and Nadien worked with the Greek violin pedagogue, Dmitirous Dounis, who had an uncanny ability to spot problems (though likely neither had any) and solve them in a most efficient manner. Dounis loathed blind repetition, which contrary to what many think, can be so dangerous in art.

Nadien and Libove are cult figures to those who know them, but millions don't—that's a shame. As Americans stand in the supermarket lines, scanning headlines about rock stars and basketball moguls and all of their nonsensical and shameful antics, are they inspired? They judge by sexy pictures on record jackets, by green colored-hair, and by thrusting pelvises. Yet these players (Nadien and Libove) hardly even move a muscle and say more with one bow stroke than hundreds of pelvic thrusts and violent intentions.

When will we learn to look beyond the sensation to find the substance?

Contact www.shumskymusic.com for further information on these and other artists.

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