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Robert Niles

The Week in Reviews, Op. 66: Nikolaij Znaider, Isabelle Faust, Simone Lamsma in Concert

January 20, 2015 14:56

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.

Nikolaij Znaider performed the Sibelius with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which also gave the U.S. premiere of Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 4.

  • Violinist.com: "In Znaider's hands it was pure and beautiful, unhurried in its virtuosity, with dizzying runs going by in one sweep and the dramatic tension sustained throughout."
  • New York Times: "Between the (Tansman and Górecki) came Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, Nikolaj Znaider’s impassioned, aristocratic mastery burning like a blue inferno, an ice field set alight."
  • Los Angeles Times: "Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider played with a polish that seemed barely human. He produces a sound thick and luscious as cream. He let each movement flow as though a single uninterrupted thought."
  • Orange County Register: "This was a commanding interpretation, rich-toned and square-jawed, the phrases chiseled and boldly accented. A case could be made for Znaider to lighten up, but I wouldn’t make it because he put the music over in his own decisive way. Boreyko and the orchestra supported heartily. The musicians work well with him.”

Nikolaij Znaider
Nikolaij Znaider

Simone Lamsma performed works by Mendelssohn and Brahms, in concert at Northwestern University’s Winter Chamber Music Festival.

  • Chicago Classical Review: "Here was a classic example of Mendelssohn creating a sonic universe from seemingly simple material, and the performance benefited from Lamsma’s intelligent highlighting of important harmonic junctures."

Marc Bouchkov performed the Sibelius with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

  • Edmonton Journal: "(The orchestra's failings were) a pity, as the playing of soloist Marc Bouchkov, who won the Montréal International Music Competition in 2013, was very fine. He is wonderfully secure in the upper range, and his playing of the opening of the slow movement was gorgeous. I look forward to hearing him again."

Isabelle Faust performed the Mendelssohn with the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

  • The New York Times: "Ms. Faust’s silky modesty often felt excessively reticent. She toned down not just the explosively intense passages, which seemed like a good way of curbing the self-indulgence into which this work can fall, but also the sweetness of the Andante, which passed unobtrusively."

Pavel Milyukov performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • The Jerusalem Post: "Milyukov conveyed all these contrasting moods and events with utmost sensitivity, intensity, breathtaking virtuosic skill and force of expression."

Steven Copes performed the Mendelssohn with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

  • Pioneer Press: "Copes showed off his ample digital dexterity on a fiery first-movement cadenza and brought out all of the Andante's soulful balladry. And the finale was suitably raucous, the choir of woodwinds matching Copes for puckish charm."

Itzhak Perlman performed Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 and conducted Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”) with the Seattle Symphony.

  • Seattle Times: "Perlman’s sure sense of the symphony’s architecture and its dramatic possibilities were even more interesting to hear than the solo violin that has made him a superstar. The attentive orchestra played brilliantly for him, with several distinguished woodwind solos."

Henning Kraggerud performed Shostakovich’s Second Violin Concerto with the Hallé Orchestra.

  • The Telegraph: "The Hallé had an intrepid and insightful soloist in Norwegian Henning Kraggerud – more self-effacing than he needed to be, perhaps, but better that than using the music as a vehicle for an ego trip. He made the grimly determined culminatory cadenza as gripping and controlled as its shorter, more enigmatic counterparts earlier on."

Stefan Jackiw performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

  • Press & Guide: "Jackiw has a gorgeous tone and dazzling technique."

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

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 65: Yevgeny Kutik, James Ehnes, Caroline Goulding in Concert

January 13, 2015 13:52

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.

Yevgeny Kutik performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

  • The Boston Musical Intelligencer: "...right away, when the notes of the opening G-minor melody issued forth as reflectively reminiscing, Kutik distanced himself from his generation of outspoken and aggressive violinists. This, in itself, is remarkable. Such simplicity reappeared in the first theme of the Andante assai with Kutik’s unfettered singing on the violin, a language of dignity and humility."
  • The Arts Fuse: "Best of all, he clearly has an affinity for this music and for Prokofiev’s mercurial style. Kutik’s playing throughout was never hesitant, always questing. In his hands, the first movement sounded almost improvisational, withdrawing in quieter passages only to burst out with sudden, fresh gestures: like flights of ideas that are surely rational yet also seem spur-of-the-moment. The middle movement sang sweetly. And the finale danced vigorously, even if the ensemble work over its closing pages, with their complex metrical shifts, was sometimes tentative."

James Ehnes performed the Mendelssohn with the New World Symphony.

  • South Florida Classical Review: "Of Ehnes’ virtuosity, there was no question, and he played without a trace of effort to disturb the smooth surface. But beyond that he brought an early Romantic sensibility to the performance, playing in an expressive but compact manner that brought out the concerto’s youthful vulnerability and high spirits....Rarely will an encore eclipse the main event, but Ehnes’ performance of the Allegro assai from Bach’s Sonata No. 3 for solo violin came close."

Caroline Goulding performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

  • Nashville Scene: "In Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, Debus and his soloist, violinist Caroline Goulding, gave a performance that was almost too intimate for my tastes. Goulding played with minimum vibrato, creating a sound that was luminous but small."

Nicolas Dautricourt performed the Mendelssohn with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

  • Detroit Free Press: "Where the opening movement can find violinists slipping into taffy-pull phrasing and over emoting, Dautricourt instead played with a lithe elegance, forward momentum and structural clarity, as if Mendelssohn's inspired melodies needed no special pleading."

Valeriy Sokolov performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Seattle Symphony.

  • Seattle Times: "...he gave a fine performance that featured an incisive, robust tone and a strong, steady bow, as well as a few intonation problems. "

Augustin Hadelich performed the Tchaikovsky with the Pacific Symphony.

  • Orange County Register: "...he gave us long-breathed phrases in beautiful tone, balanced, poised, and confident. He seemed to let the music speak for itself, but there was a deep but subtle shaping going on, as if he were holding the music in his hand as if it were a bird, firmly, but not too firmly."

Marc Bouchkov performed the Sibelius with the Regina Symphony Orchestra.

  • Leader-Post: "The 23-year old violinist was remarkable, playing with a soulfulness that belied his age. In the concerto, his expert technique was on display as the Sibelius required him to do a significant amount of intricate fingering during his soloing."

Andrew Sords performed works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Khachaturian, in recital with pianist Brian Wentzel.

  • The Morning Journal: "Sords proves the master of intricate, seemingly-technically-impossible passages..."

Itzhak Perlman performed the Beethoven with the Pacific Symphony.

  • Orange County Register: "...none of the blemishes mattered much. He revealed an easy way with the decorative lines in the first movement, dashing, feinting, sketching lightly and gracefully. He imbued the slow movement with the simplicity it required. The finale unwound in a lilting gait, skipping with joy, Perlman’s phrasing buoyant, unforced. The entire performance, what’s more, had a feeling of rapt concentration, a feeling only bolstered by the violinist as he listened intently to the orchestra as it played."

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

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 64: Stephen Waarts in Concert

January 6, 2015 14:42

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.

Stephen Waarts

Stephen Waarts performed the Mendelssohn with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.

  • Berkeley Daily Planet: "The shimmering quality of Mendelssohn’s writing for violin was beautifully rendered by Waart(s), who consummately handled the written-out cadenza in this concerto’s first movement. The lilting second movement was also beautifully performed by soloist Waart(s), as he took the lead in unraveling Mendelssohn’s lyricically melodious second movement. The third and final movement followed with ebullient material brilliantly played by both soloist and orchestra, as this New Year’s Eve concert came to a resounding close. What a delightful way to ring in the New Year!"

Cynthia Freivogel performed Haydn's Concerto in F for Violin and Harpsichord with Gwendolyn Toth, founder of the period-instrument ensemble Artek.

  • New York Times: "The work is suffused with Haydn’s signature wit, and Ms. Freivogel and Ms. Toth fully brought out the cheek and chirpiness of the laughing grace notes, trills and other ornaments."

* * *

In other news:

Lydia Mordkovitch has died of cancer.

  • Obituary in The Guardian: Mordkovitch "took a wealth of musical experience from the former Soviet Union via Israel to Britain, her home for the second half of her life. A strong, charismatic performer and a faithful interpreter of a composer’s wishes, she made more than 60 recordings for the Chandos label, and her native and adopted countries are strongly represented in a wide repertoire that included concertos by Britten, Arthur Bliss, EJ Moeran and Karel Szymanowski, sonatas by Bach, Brahms and Nikolai Medtner, and the Prokofiev concertos and sonatas."

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

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