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Violinist.com Interviews: Vol. 1

Our exclusive, one-on-one interviews with 27 of today's best-known violinists, including Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, David Garrett, Anne Akiko Meyers, Maxim Vengerov, and others.

Robert Niles

The Week in Reviews, Op. 28: Anne Akiko Meyers, Hilary Hahn, Regina Carter in concert

April 22, 2014 14:51

In an effort to promote the coverage of live music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Anne Akiko Meyers. Photo courtesy the artist

Anne Akiko Meyers performed the Bates with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

  • Chicago Tribune: "The music is cannily tailored to Meyers' musical personality, and it put to the test her ability to draw floods of sweet tone and shape the quasi-bluesy and jazzy riffs from her priceless fiddle. She passed the test splendidly."
  • Chicago Classical Review: "Meyers performed with a sweet tone, fitfully overdoing the vibrato, and made much out of the main lyrical theme that later morphs into full silver-screen luxuriance. She also brought daunting fire and intensity to the virtuosic closing section, which provided the requisite fireworks, garnering an instantaneous standing ovation by the audience."

Hilary Hahn performed in recital with pianist Cory Smythe in Albany, NY

  • Times Union: "Her sound is always solid, sometimes warm, though not particularly radiant. The descriptors that keep coming up are thoughtful and intelligent. Maybe those adjectives should apply more to interpretation than to sound, yet there's a smart integrity to each note she plays."

Augustin Hadelich performed Previn's "Tango, Song and Dance" with pianist Joyce Yang and guitarist Pablo Villegas

  • Washington Post: "Hadelich is a lovely, sunny soloist with a warmth and sparkle in his playing that translates to his stage persona. I can well understand his desire to explore different and perhaps more immediate ways of connecting with the audience. This performance wasn’t quite it, but it certainly offered some great music-making."

Regina Carter performed for the Symphony Center's jazz series in Chicago

  • Chicago Tribune: "Carter, however, remained the centerpiece of all of this, her violin giving voice to songs reflecting the convergence of cultures that built American music from the start. You could hear African-American chant, traditional Scottish and Irish melody and much more in this repertory, Carter slip-sliding around pitches and improvising on dance rhythms much as our forebears once did."

The Takács Quartet performed works by Bartok

  • Violinist.com: "The combination of these players and this repertoire made for what was probably my favorite quartet performance to date."

On the pop beat, Lettice Rowbotham is causing quite a stir on Simon Cowell's Britain's Got Talent show

  • UTV News: "Described by judge David Walliams as 'the poshest contestant we've ever had on the show,' Lettice wowed the panel by performing a medley of current tunes on her violin."
  • Hello! Daily News: "After her audition Simon Cowell said: 'Lettice, not only are you brilliant, you have a fantastic personality as well, you are one of the people I am going to remember coming away from this.'"
  • Metro: "The 24-year-old impressed the BGT judges on Saturday night’s show but it would seem she and Cowell may have crossed paths before now."

And on the book beat, Mayra Calvani reviewed Laurie Niles' The Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1

  • BlogCritics.org: "In one word, this book is: fascinating. If you love listening to violin music, or are a violinist yourself, you’ll relish the inside information into the lives of these incredibly talented soloists and their ups and downs as they travel the world and make personal sacrifices in order to play live concerts, sometimes as many as a hundred or more a year."

Archive link

The Week in Reviews, Op. 27: Julian Rachlin, Augustin Hadelich, Arabella Steinbacher in concert

April 15, 2014 15:46

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Julian Rachlin performed the Stravinsky on the same program as the London Philharmonic premiered Górecki’s Symphony No. 4

  • The Financial Times: "Anybody hoping for a repeat of the Third Symphony’s numinous halo of sound is in for a rude awakening."
  • The Guardian "Those who know and love Górecki's Third Symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, may find the posthumous Fourth a tougher nut to crack." and "Charged by the soloist with tension and energy, (Stravinsky's Violin Concerto) provided the evening's most memorable music-making."

Augustin Hadelich

Augustin Hadelich performed the Mendelssohn with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

  • Cincinnati Enquirer: "In a field of many rising stars, Hadelich stands out, not only for his stunning technique, but also for his refreshing individuality."

Gil Shaham performed the Korngold with the National Symphony Orchestra

  • Washington Post: "Shaham has a way of making everything sound delightful; I have a weakness for his meltingly sweet tone, which sounds like a throwback to the 1930s."
  • Communities Digital News: "Sunny violin soloist Gil Shaham gave the concerto a light and lively reading, although he seemed slightly troubled on occasion by something going on with his instrument Thursday evening, particularly in the opening movement."

David Russell performed works by Brandenburg at the Faculty & Friends Concert at the University of North Carolina Charlotte

  • CVNC: "…we achieved lift-off when violinist David Russell strode onto the stage as DeMio's partner in the B minor Sonata for violin and harpsichord."

Vadim Repin Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra, and without a conductor, as Valery Gergiev was stuck in New York

  • Siberian Times: "'If our Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra was not the highest possible artistic level, I would have never have taken that risk.' Repin hailed the concert as a 'musical feat'."

Arabella Steinbacher performed the Dvorak with the Philharmonia Orchestra

  • The Guardian: "...the most substantial piece of this enjoyably idiomatic evening was Dvorák's deceptively imposing but essentially affable and liltingly rhapsodic violin concerto, which Arabella Steinbacher delivered with sweeping, if occasionally steely, charm and some irresistibly incisive phrasing, especially in the coruscating swirl of the finale."

Jin Suk Yu performed the Sibelius with the New World Symphony

  • South Florida Classical Review: "Soloist Jin Suk Yu showed himself a considerable virtuoso. From the icy, lonely opening through the burly fast passages on the violin’s lowest string, it was clear he had a real feel for Sibelius’ strange Nordic world, as well as the technique to express it."

Bella Hristova performed the Beethoven with the Des Moines Symphony

  • Des Moines Register: "Bella Hristova…conjured a clear sound and thoughtful phrasing from her 359-year-old instrument."

Kristin Lee performed the Fung with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

  • The Pioneer Press: "It's a wild ride of a piece, and Lee was astounding throughout, coaxing all sorts of unexpected sounds from her violin as the music careened from high and haunting to rapid and raucous to shimmering to angry."

Michael Ludwig performed the Korngold with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

  • The Buffalo News: "He didn’t merely play this concerto – he just about danced it."

Christian Tetzlaff performed the Dvorak with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

  • Chicago Tribune: "But a soloist who believes wholeheartedly in its merits can bring it off convincingly, and that's what the brilliant German virtuoso did on Thursday."

Renaud Capuçon performed the Schumann with the London Philharmonic

  • The Guardian: "…it is tempting to hear the concerto as an embodiment of Schumann's mental decline when he wrote the piece in 1853. Capuçon's way of playing it – clipped and precise yet seemingly locked within his own world – enhanced this view, but (conductor) Saraste's unwillingness to grip the orchestral structure made for a more diffuse rendering than this problematic piece deserves."

James Ehnes performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra

  • Philadelphia Inquirer: "Ehnes, sometimes a reserved player, gave the third movement a little less passion than it deserves. But he has the gift of subtlety. And charisma. In the first movement, his lovely lower register achieved great presence even without volume."

Calin Ovidiu Lupanu performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

  • Charlotte Observer: "Soloist Calin Ovidiu Lupanu, the CSO’s concertmaster, set the tone in the concerto from the start: tenderness and beauty, no matter how aggressive the music became."

Isabelle Faust performed the Berg with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in a tribute to the late conductor Claudio Abbado

  • The Guardian: "Never flamboyant, keenly uncompromising, she was a favourite performer of Abbado's, and little wonder."

Simone Porter performed the Barber with the Albany Symphony

  • Albany Times-Union: "The piece gave Porter a chance to showcase her technique – from long soaring lines to double stops, to frenetic fast passages in the last movement."

Archive link

The Week in Reviews, Op. 26: Stefan Jackiw, Nicolas Kendall, Leila Josefowicz in concert

April 8, 2014 10:47

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Stefan Jackiw performed the Mendelssohn with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The performance demonstrated the violinist's virtuosity, as well as his ability to forgo it for the sake of stirring lyricism."
  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Violinist Stefan Jackiw quickly established Friday night why he has been a sought-after soloist since he was 12."

Nicholas Kendall
Nicolas Kendall

Nicolas Kendall performed Brubeck's "Spontaneous Combustion" with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra

  • Cape Cod Times: "The emotional showpiece of the…concert was certainly (Chris) Brubeck's "Spontaneous Combustion," a jam-session violin concerto written for firebrand fiddler Nicolas Kendall."

Aisslinn Nosky and Christina Day Martinson performed the Bach Double with the Handel and Haydn Society

  • Boston Globe: "Nosky and violinist Christina Day Martinson took up the solo parts with vigor and ample technique but not always a palpably shared or complementary interpretive vision."
  • Boston Classical Review: "The constant intertwining of lines in the string orchestra and between the two soloists on Friday was a puzzle to the listener’s ear and the night’s severest test of playing together without a conductor."
  • Portland Press Herald: "Every voice was so clearly stated that one could follow Bach’s polyphonic structure perfectly, wondering at the same time about the mind of a man who could improvise a five-part fugue for Frederick the Great after traveling all day in a post-chaise."

Leila Josefowicz performed the Adams with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Josefowicz played with a spot-on blend of fire and control, delivering even the most jaw-dropping technical passages with complete command."

Kristian Winther performed the Rautavaara with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: "Kristian Winther gave a fine account fronting Rautavaara's Violin Concerto, an excellent display piece through a juxtaposition of bravura and cantabile passages, with the performer's own cadenza interpolated."
  • Limelight Magazine: "His Violin Concerto featured Australian soloist Kristian Winther, whose energy and ferocity was well utilised in this performance."

Christian Tetzlaff performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

  • St. Louis Post Dispatch: "Tetzlaff was phenomenal, performing in a manner that had to be seen as well as heard in order to be believed. His technique is astonishing, as is his stamina, in a work that runs three-quarters of an hour and keeps its soloist hopping for most of that time."

Mikhail Ovrutsky performed the Korngold with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

  • The New Zealand Herald: "Ovrutsky was an agile and musicianly player. He clearly enjoyed the runaway romp of Korngold's Finale but too often a more lustrous tone would have given this luscious music the glow it needs."

Isabelle Faust performed the Berg with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra

  • Herald Scotland: "The steely and sinewy soundscape of the opening set the scene for this well honed yet vital performance. (Conductor Andris) Nelsons made a great job of balancing the orchestral forces with this eloquent soloist."

Archive link

The Week in Reviews, Op. 25: Christian Tetzlaff, Leila Josefowicz, Midori in concert

April 1, 2014 10:28

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Christian Tetzlaff performed Joachim's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

  • The New York Times: "Mr. Tetzlaff proved charismatic, imbuing his part with a burnished sound and soulful allure and deftly navigating the whirlwind passagework of the “Gypsy” finale."
  • New York Classical Review: "After landing flat on the second note of his entrance, the German violinist showed intensity of tone and musical sensitivity in his opening phrases. From there, everything was downhill."

Yevgeny Kutik performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra

  • The Republican: "Kutik’s account of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto explored thrilling extremes of character and intensity, laying bare the composer’s soul at its most romantic and private one moment, at its most ironic and extroverted the next."

Midori performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Leila Josefowicz performed the the British premiere of the Salonen with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

  • The Guardian: "Josefowicz's captivating performance came as no surprise. More surprising was the orchestra, who seem reinvigorated by the appointment of Salonen's Finnish compatriot Sakari Oramo as their principal conductor."
  • BBC Music Magazine: "It’s a tour de force, of sorts, and Josefowicz an exceptional advocate, but there’s a fundamental lack of distinctive material which prevents it from taking wing."

Kyoko Takezawa performed the Tchaikovsky with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in Bangkok

  • Bangkok Post: "There was a charming, lyrical, almost hushed quality to her playing."

Avigail Bushakevitz performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Independent Online: "There was a charming, lyrical, almost hushed quality to her playing."Her tone, phrasing and dynamics were first class, and she showed the skills of a true virtuoso in the concerto’s joyous rapid passages."

Kam Ning performed the Mendelssohn with Project Strings

  • The Straits Times: "Directing the ensemble and playing from memory, the younger Kam played with impeccable clarity and a focused sound, characterised by wit and humor."

Guy Braunstein performed the Tchaikovsky with the Columbus Symphony

  • The Columbus Dispatch: "In the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, soloist Guy Braunstein, formerly concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, brought an effortless fluidity to Tchaikovsky’s never-ending melodies and sailed through technical passages, including an electrifying performance of the cadenza."

Alina Pogostkina performed the Brahms with the West Australia Symphony Orchestra

  • The West Australian: "Alina Pogostkina, in a strapless blue/grey concert gown, poured a wealth of meaning into Brahms' much-loved Violin Concerto even though, at times, tonal balance between soloist and orchestra was less than consistently satisfying."

Janine Jansen performed the Britten with the Philadelphia Orchestra

  • Philadelphia Inquirer: "Jansen is (the Britten Violin Concerto's) best advocate, her big tone and sinewy turns extracting incisive emotions from a score that consciously (and quite successfully) avoids cliche."

Goeun Shin performed the Sibelius with the Topanga Symphony

  • Topanga Messenger: "She saved her best for the audience and delivered beautifully on the presentation of a love for the violin that was possessed by the composer, performer and the audience, and heard by all listeners in the international language of music."
James Ehnes

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Canadian violinist James Ehnes won two 2014 Juno Awards Saturday, including Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Classical for his recording Prokofiev: Complete Works for Violin and Classical Album of the Year: Soloist with Large Ensemble for his recording Britten & Shostakovich: Violin Concerti. With these awards, he has now won nine Juno Awards. Congratulations!

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