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Robert Niles

The Week in Reviews, Op. 58: Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Fumiaki Miura, Leonidas Kavakos in Concert

November 25, 2014 13:51

In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Photo courtesy the artist

Patricia Kopatchinskaja performed Mansurian's Second Violin Concerto and an early work by Mendelssohn with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

  • St. Paul Pioneer Press: "...she launched her tenure as a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra artistic partner by leading an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride of a concert, one that inspired three standing ovations and will doubtless be one of the year's most memorable concerts in any genre."
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Her playing was free and flowing, quite exhilarating in its airy exuberance and exquisite, delicate high notes."

Richard Tognetti performed Haydn's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

  • Gazette & Herald: "If ever a man played as if completely in love with his violin then it was Tognetti. Haydn’s Violin Concerto No 1 in C asks much of the soloist. Tognetti delivered with compound interest....The clarity, artistry and effervescence of his playing was consummate; one particular cadenza, with crystal clear, perfectly pitched high notes was spell-binding. And you could tell by the stillness before applause that it had washed into everyone’s soul: Unforgettable."

Fumiaki Miura performed Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Utah Symphony.

  • Salt Lake Tribune: "He met the concerto’s virtuosic demands with apparent ease, navigating extended passages of high harmonics with near-surgical precision and singing out beguiling melodies with a rich, full-bodied tone."

Leonidas Kavakos performed works by Brahms and Respighi in recital with pianist Yuja Wang.

  • The New York Times: "... despite alluring moments — like Ms. Wang’s tenderness in the autumnal themes — they didn’t seem like a cohesive team."

Ray Chen performed works by Mozart, Prokofiev, and Bach in recital with pianist Timothy Young.

  • Violinist.com: "With the audience's cheering and thunderous applause at the end, begging for more encores, I no longer felt like I was at a classical music concert. Everyone felt free to enjoy themselves, the music, his awkward humour and the incredible atmosphere at the end. It was thoroughly refreshing."

Anne-Sophie Mutter performed Previn's Violin Concerto No. 2 and the Bach Double with her Mutter Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall.

  • The New York Times: "This wasn’t a performance you could relax through. It demanded attention."

Gil Shaham performed Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony at Carnegie Hall.

  • The New York Times: "The violinist Gil Shaham always provides secure, thoughtful playing, and there was that aplenty in the latest round of his continuing traversal of 1930s concertos. But he and Mr. Thomas seemed determined to play everything as quietly and as prettily as possible, deliberately downplaying Prokofiev’s bite."

Simone Porter performed the Barber with the Fort Worth Symphony.

  • Theater Jones: "Porter played with a singer’s phrasing, taking time to breath between phrases. Her tempi were excellent and she (and Franco) made the most of Barber’s building and extended ritards that reach shattering resolutions."

Augustin Hadelich performed the Brahms with the North Carolina Symphony.

  • News & Observer: "Hadelich’s lean, silvery tone pulled the listener into the billowing phrases of the first movement, his high-lying notes achingly sweet, aided by his 1723 Stradivarius.... On the other hand, Hadelich didn’t stint on the technical fireworks when called for, especially in the fiery third movement."

Caroline Goulding performed the Mendelssohn with the Albany Symphony Orchestra.

  • Albany Times Union: "Caroline Goulding...played beautifully. She gave the first movement's cadenza a lovely push and pull of dynamics and tempo. Unfortunately, the piece started with the woodwinds out of tune."

Juliette Kang performed the Stravinsky with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • Philadelphia Inquirer: "The question of individualism always arises when the orchestra turns to its own ranks for a soloist, and Juliette Kang, first associate concertmaster, was sturdy enough in the Stravinsky Violin Concerto in D Major. Astringent and playful, the piece looks back on the baroque, an aspect Kang clearly understood, though as soloist she remained a notch beneath charismatic."

Vesa-Matti Leppanen performed the Mendelssohn with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, stepping in for Stefan Jackiw.

  • New Zealand Herald: "Concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppanen stepped in at two days' notice. Eleventh-hour pressures occasionally took their toll in virtuoso passages, but Leppanen, playing from memory, showed an individual and thoughtful response to the score. The nicest moment? The warm blend of soloist and colleagues in the first movement's second theme."

Andrew Sords performed Bruch's Scottish Fantasy with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.

  • Windsor Star: "His control and beautiful tone suited every bar of the Bruch work from the adagio of the Prelude to the frenzied, familiar Finale."

Alexander Sitkovetsky performed the Sibelius with the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra.

  • On the Wight: "Mr Sitkovetsky played deliciously fast and passionately, his fingers flying, and he was obviously deeply entranced by the music itself."

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 57: The Atlanta Symphony is Back!

November 19, 2014 08:26

In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

David Coucheron Robert Spano
Atlanta Symphony concertmaster David Coucheron and conductor Robert Spano

David Coucheron performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the orchestra's first concert back after its board locked it out.

  • Atlanta Journal Constitution: "There was a joyful reunion of audience and performer Thursday night as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra played its long-delayed first concert of the new season to an ecstatic sold-out crowd...The challenges of the evening seemed to bring out the best in the performers, including Coucheron."
  • ArtsATL: "The audience exploded wildly into a thunderous standing ovation for the musicians as the orchestra took the stage together, then kicked off the concert with “The Star Spangled Banner,” the long-standing tradition of opening-night performances. The capacity audience boldly joined in singing what seemed not only the National Anthem, but also a fervent statement by the people assembled in support of the ASO musicians and their return to Symphony Hall....Coucheron’s sound is not exceptionally large but is a sweetly focused one that suits Mozart’s concerto well. He was tasteful and introspective with the cadenzas, choosing to play those by Joseph Joachim, which had sufficient elements of velocity but left Coucheron much room for thoughtful playing."

Augustin Hadelich performed the Mendelssohn with the Seattle Symphony.

  • Seattle Times: "Eloquent and unforced, Hadelich’s violin lines were shaped by a technique as fine as anything you’ll hear on today’s concert stages."

Hilary Hahn performed the Beethoven with the Luxembourg Philharmonic after a four-month injury absence from performing.

  • Mittelbayerische: the review (in German) praises her elegance, bow arm and musical poetry.

Nicola Benedetti performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

  • The Scotsman: "From Benedetti, there was a delicious stillness and introspection in the opening Nocturne; demonic brilliance in the Scherzo; deep, penetrating conviction of the focal Passacaglia and electrifying bravado in the burlesque finale. Peter Oundjian’s RSNO went all the way with her."
  • The Courier: "Thursday night’s performance of Shostakovich’s first violin concerto surpassed anything I’ve heard her perform before – and that takes some doing!"

Tasmin Little performed the Korngold with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

  • Straight.com: "British violinist Tasmin Little scored a respectable triple with the VSO, but failed to bring home the run."

Jennifer Koh performed the Sibelius with the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

  • Waco Tribune-Herald: "Koh, the evening’s guest artist, showed a stunning sense of line in her performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto, seamlessly connecting a singing tone, double-stop play that at times felt like two musical voices and an intensity that had her shaking her head and stamping her foot."

Renaud Capucon performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Straits Times: "Capucon's more sparing use of vibrato and a novel, almost avant garde cadenza made it memorable."

Joshua Bell performed the Glazunov with the New York Philharmonic.

  • The New York Times: "Joshua Bell, usually a charismatic performer with an effortless technique and sweet tone, seemed less at ease than usual both technically and musically."
  • ConcertoNet: "...this is the kind of music in which Joshua Bell excels. Starting off after a half-measure from the orchestra, Mr. Bell–almost as youthful looking as the conductor–gave an almost nonchalant opening, eschewing whatever “Russian-ness” Glazunov half-heartedly inserted. Once he came to the cadenza, at the end of these two joined movements, he was in his element. Some fiddlers get their thrills by making a cadenza like this seem difficult. Joshua Bell tossed it off, like he was playing scales."

Simone Lamsma performed Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

  • The Pioneer Press: "Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma delivered an involving interpretation of Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the SPCO, lending it haunting lyricism and folksy fury, but also finding an oasis of calm at its center."

Lu Siqing performed the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto with the National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra.

  • Montreal Gazette: "The work is a bit predictable and it extravagantly repeats its famous theme, but violinist Lu Siqing livened it with an intelligent and unexaggerated performance. His cool tone survived a blistering Paganini encore, (Sonata in A) but he retained some old school poise even through that catalogue of virtuoso tricks."

Also in violin news:

Congratulations to Danielle Belen, who was named one of three recipients of the 4th annual Sphinx Medals of Excellence, awarded to artists of color who demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and great potential for leadership. (Other recipients were soprano Janai Brugger and flutist Demarre McGill.) Each will receive Medals of Excellence and a $50,000 Artist Grant at a luncheon in Washington, D.C. on March 18, 2015. Danielle, winner of the 2008 Sphinx Competition, recently became Professor of Violin at the University of Michigan. She also Artistic Director and founder of Center Stage Strings summer camp and festival.

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

2 replies

The Week in Reviews, Op. 56: Andrew Sords, Midori, Maxim Vengerov in Concert

November 11, 2014 21:37

In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Midori performed the Schumann with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Orlando Sentinel: "Midori also was a kinetic force, leaning at odd angles as she executed the quicksilver arpeggios in Schumann's Concerto. Although diminutive, she played powerfully enough to lift the passages over the orchestra's imposing presence, especially in the first movement. Midori's flawless technique was more apparent in the second movement, with its tender melody accompanied by a more subdued backdrop of strings. As the piece reached its finale, Midori had another chance to shine as she unleashed yet more gleeful showers of notes."

Andrew Sords
Andrew Sords. Photo courtesy the artist

Andrew Sords performed the Sibelius with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra

  • Chattanooga Times Free Press: "Jean Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47” has the potential to be a barnburner, and Andrew Sords did not disappoint....The first movement contains ardent and melancholy themes, interspersed with plenty of cadenza-like passages for the soloist to display his prowess. And Sords did, ripping off countless glittering passages, strewn with multiple stops. And when Sibelius finally managed to produce a hummable melody, Sords responded with a rich and full tone, especially in his low register...Tchaikovsky-like melody filled the second movement as the soloist soared and sang...The finale is a frenzied dance movement that annotator Donald Tovey called a “polonaise for polar bears.” It was a breath-taking romp, demanding nothing less than a bravura performance from the highly animated soloist who twisted and turned, weaved and bobbed as he cajoled sounds from his instrument and fellow players."

Maxim Vengerov performed the Tchaikovsky with the St Petersburg Philharmonic.

  • The Guardian: " At its best, it was a poised affair that didn’t always fully probe the work’s emotional resonances, and the relationship between Vengerov and the orchestra seemed, on occasion, to be in less than perfect accord."

Gil Shaham performed Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony.

  • Examiner.com: "Shaham has set for himself a major project in documenting performances of violin concertos composed during the 1930s....Shaham clearly has great affection for this decade, and he has backed up his enthusiasm with both technical and scholarly insights. Those insights were just as evident in last night’s approach to Opus 63, providing the concerto with a right and proper place between the 'temporal extremes' of the full program."

Sarah Chang performed the Sibelius with the Madison Symphony Orchestra

  • Madison Magazine: "...the erstwhile prodigy now longtime dominating artist is welcome anytime. Put the Sibelius Violin Concerto in front of her, and it’s time to consider installing seat belts at Overture Center."

Baiba Skride performed Gubaidulina's “Offertorium” with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

  • Boston Globe: "The young Latvian violinist Baiba Skride took up the fiercely difficult solo line. She in fact plays the work on Kremer’s violin, on loan to her, but she finds her own way with it, placing fearless technique at the service of a streamlined sincerity. At key moments she favored a fast narrow vibrato that felt tailored to the music’s particular expressive goals, its anatomy of an embattled rapture."

Nikolaj Znaider performed the Beethoven with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

  • Boston Globe: "Znaider plays with dazzling technique and a robust tone that manages to sing in every register. He handled the filigree of the concerto’s first movement with near-perfect precision, with only a few slips marring an otherwise exceptional performance."

Jennifer Koh performed the Salonen with the Seattle Symphony

  • Seattle Times: "Guest soloist Jennifer Koh played the violin solo in Salonen’s concerto from 2009 — a role of extreme energy. The violin rarely stops throughout the work’s four movements, and for much of that Koh was playing very fast. It’s a showpiece work, requiring enormous technical skill, dexterity, and alertness in order not to lose a place in these torrents of notes."

Alexandra Soumm performed the Sibelius with the London Philharmonic.

  • The Guardian: "That had its moments, especially the opening, with the beautifully shaded solo playing perfectly cushioned by the LPO strings, but as the work went on, Soumm seemed to be trying too hard to make her performance intense and wrought."

Itamar Zorman performed works by Bach, Hindemith, Brahms and Schnittke, in recital with pianist Kwan Yi

  • Classicalite: "Israeli violinist Itamar Zorman, named just this week a nominee for the first annual Warner Music Prize, made his Carnegie Hall debut last night with a wide-ranging program of music by Bach, Hindemith, Brahms and Schnittke at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall."

In other news this week, the Atlanta Symphony has reached an agreement with its musicians and ended its lockout.

  • Daily Mail: "The management and musicians' union on Saturday approved the new labor deal after prolonged negotiations brokered by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a US government agency. Under the new agreement, musicians won a six percent pay increase over the next four years, but agreed to pay higher premiums for their health insurance....Under the compromise, the orchestra would employ 77 musicians but reach 88 by the end of the four-year contract."

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

1 reply

The Week in Reviews, Op. 55: Nicola Benedetti, Benjamin Schmid, James Ehnes in Concert

November 4, 2014 13:13

In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Nicola Benedetti performed Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "...the Scottish violinist offered a lustrous, full-bodied sound that highlighted its lyrical qualities, and she used vibrato to shape and forward phrases to great effect. I did love her sensitive encore, an arrangement of 'Auld Lang Syne.'"
  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Benedetti's performance was the most impressive of her work at Heinz Hall. She soared when the tessitura was atmospheric, and also drew wonderfully vibrant tone from her lower strings. Most winning of all was the keen focus she brought to the music's unfolding."

Benjamin Schmid
Benjamin Schmid. Photo courtesy the artist

Benjamin Schmid performed Prokofiev's Concerto No. 1 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

  • Cincinnati Enquirer: "Schmid tossed off its extreme demands without breaking a sweat. He barely moved as he phrased the long, arching theme of the opening bars with a delicate, sweet tone. One of the highlights of the first movement was a section of high glissandos in the violin, played against an ethereal backdrop of harp, flutes and violins. It was a moment of extraordinary atmosphere."

James Ehnes performed works by Tartini, Kreisler and Bach, in recital with pianist Andrew Armstrong.

  • TheaterJones: "One thing was immediately noticeable within a few measures of this first work on the program: Ehnes’ singing, penetrating tone, which was full of warmth."

Midori performed the Schumann with the National Symphony Orchestra.

  • Washington Post: "Midori certainly didn’t do a lot to sell the piece; indeed, she gave an impression of ambivalence."

Gil Shaham performed the Mendelssohn with the New Jersey Symphony.

  • Broadway World Reviews: "...the Mendelssohn was the first recording of Shaham's long and storied career and to his immense credit, nearly thirty years later, he still manages to bring a freshness and vitality to his performance of the work."

Frank Peter Zimmermann performed the Sibelius with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

  • Boston Classical Review: "His playing of the work Thursday night was remarkable for its technical aplomb and a distant, but palpable, tonal warmth."
  • Boston Globe: "Many violinists break up the lengthy first-movement cadenza with dramatic pauses; not so Zimmermann, who seemed to see the whole thing one long, ghostly arc."

Augustin Hadelich performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

  • NUVO: "Hadelich played its three movements (using his own cadenzas) beautifully, and with a mastery unsurpassed by any other live performance I've heard."

Miriam Fried performed works by Mozart, Brahms and Janácek in recital with her son, pianist Jonathan Biss.

  • Richmond Times-Dispatch: "...the meat of the evening was Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major. Beginning with the tight bud of a trill, the sonata unfurled into a sweeping and satisfying four movements: serious work buoyed by a sense of play."

Joshua Bell performed works works by Schubert, Grieg and Prokofiev, with pianist Alessio Bax, in South Florida this week.

  • South Florida Classical Review: "Bell’s warm, graceful and effortless performance was the payoff of a technique honed on the concertos of Tchaikovsky and Sibelius."

Benjamin Baker performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Bury Free Press: "He makes the violin sing and it’s hard to imagine how, at just 24, he can improve in technique or interpretation."

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

1 reply

Previous entries: October 2014


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