I spent part of the afternoon yesterday experiencing the power and endless, hypnotic rhythm of waves crashing on the beach. I was killing time between a morning rehearsal and an outdoor evening performance with the Virginia Symphony on the Virginia Beach boardwalk.
Watching the waves, I was reminded of Edwin Grasse’s slightly obscure violin showpiece, Wellenspiel (Waves at Play), written in 1914. Grasse (1884-1954) was an American violinist, organist and composer. Joshua Bell included this piece on his 1990 CD, Presenting Joshua Bell.
Waves at Play may not be the most profound piece ever written, but it’s still a lot of fun, especially in the hands of Jascha Heifetz. This old recording shows off Heifetz’s perfect sense of musical timing and effortless left hand technique. Listen to the way he takes time to sing through all of the notes leading into rests: