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Robert Niles

The Week in Reviews, Op. 61: James Ehnes, Stephen Waarts, In Mo Yang in Concert

December 16, 2014 12:46

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.

James Ehnes performed the Walton with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Brahms with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, on the same day.

  • The Guardian: "Ehnes’s fearless response to both works spoke for itself. The fine balance of Walton’s reflective lyricism and its capricious displays of technique were handled with flair, and the tone that Ehnes produced high on the E string lent a sweetness to the music too often lost in more effortful performances."

Stephen Waarts performed works by Beethoven, Bartok and Ravel in recital with pianist Chelsea Wang.

  • Washington Post: "Waarts showed an uncommon, preternatural sense of tonal color and lyrical beauty on the instrument."
  • New York Times: "Mr. Waarts showed himself a technically accomplished and musically insightful artist, though he was most impressive in Bartok’s extraordinary Sonata for Solo Violin, completed in 1944, when the composer was fatally ill with leukemia."

In Mo Yang. Photo: Neda Navaee

In Mo Yang performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Boston Classical Orchestra.

  • Boston Globe: "From his first entrance onward, Yang was an arresting performer: now sweet, now excitable, now chaste, now florid, and always, everywhere, in command. Yang provided his own artful cadenzas, each showcasing his dexterity while also adhering to Mozart’s insuperable continuity."

Stefan Jackiw performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and David Fulmer's Jubilant Arcs with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.

  • Columbus Dispatch: "Jackiw’s no-holds-barred approach in the final movement’s intense “Turkish” section was electrifying, and his moments capturing Mozart’s playful transitions and more-refined and soaring lines were utter delights."

Joshua Bell performed Mozart and Schubert with pianist Menahem Pressler and "Death and the Maiden" with a student chamber group:

  • Bloomington Herald-Times (paywall): "Schubert’s A Major Sonata (“Grand Duo”)... is a piece rich in melodies and opportunities for musicians to reveal their skill at quickness and buoyancy and verve. It received a fully engaged reading from two virtuosi who obviously love the music and know how to give it vitality and interpretive heat."

Vadim Gluzman performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Tucson Symphony.

  • Green Valley News and Sun: "Gluzman’s sound was huge on his big 1690 Stradivari, and both his visual and physical communication with Hanson and the orchestra produced a symbiosis, always a certainty for performance perfection."

Remus Azoitei performed the Tchaikovsky with the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of London.

  • Music OMH: "Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto might be one of the great warhorses of the violin repertoire, but Remus Azoitei’s playing of it urged one to listen to it afresh and made me question how critic Eduard Hanslick could have ever thought it to be “music that stinks in the ear."

Gil Shaham premiered David Bruce's Violin Concerto “Fragile Light” with the San Diego Symphony.

  • U-T San Diego: "Shaham, who has been a frequent visitor to San Diego with the symphony and the La Jolla Music Society, has repeatedly shown himself to be a communicative soloist able to reveal the most human aspects of a wide range of music, from unaccompanied Bach to standard concerto repertoire. But he couldn’t find the humanity in Bruce’s piece."

Jack Liebeck performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Scotsman: "Liebeck took most of it in his stride and played a boisterous game of duck and dive with conductor Martyn Brabbins, whose control of the orchestral artillery – Bruch hits out with some meaty tuttis – was balsy and bright."

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

In other news: Our apologies for missing a Grammy nominee last week! A big congratulations to the Turtle Island String Quartet, which was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Classical Compendium" category for an album recorded with mandolinist Mike Marshal, called Mike Marshall & The Turtle Island Quartet.

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 60: Grammy Nominations, plus Jennifer Koh, Mayuko Kamio in Concert. And, 'The Cough'

December 9, 2014 13:43

First, congratulations to Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Koh, and Jaime Laredo, whose performances were among those honored with nominations in this year's Grammy Awards. Hahn was nominated for "Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance" for "In 27 Pieces - The Hilary Hahn Encores." Composer Anna Clyne was nominated in the "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" category for "Prince of Clouds," which was performed by Koh and Laredo. The Grammys will be awarded in Los Angeles on Feb. 8.

Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo
Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo. Photo by Juergen Frank.

Here is our previous coverage of these recordings:

On to the reviews! 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.

Jennifer Koh performed the Bach, as well as Anna Clyne's "Rest These Hands," with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

  • The New York Times: "The consoling shadow of Bach looms large in the first movement (of the Clyne piece), reflected in a series of unaccompanied agitated arpeggios and searching scales, which Ms. Koh played with robust refinement. But there are also very contemporary, keening slides that glide through the microtones in between the notes of the regular scale, as if searching for signs of life between the cracks of the physical world."

Mayuko Kamio performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Symphony Silicon Valley.

  • San Jose Mercury News: "This was a performance of balance and charm, from the first measures of her adagio entrance, seamlessly blending with the whispering strings and translucent wind chords."
  • San Francisco Classical Voice: "What made this performance fine was not Kamio’s sound quality but her phrasing. Especially in the Adagio, the sophisticated caress she gave to Mozart’s deceptively simple-looking melodic line was heart-warming while still well within the bounds of civilized restraint. The solo seemed to go on a long time: It could have gone on longer."

Michael Ludwig performed the Sibelius with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Buffalo News: "He owned that concerto. He had it down pat and played it with a lot of feeling, but as if it gave him no technical trouble at all. His articulation was spot on."

Philippe Quint performed the Khachaturian with the San Diego Symphony.

  • U-T San Diego: "He stayed right there in an interpretation that was percussive when it needed to be, but also brought out the score’s at times unexpected lyricism."

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

  • The Age: "Zimmermann's playing was brilliantly deft, agile and golden-toned but perhaps most important to the memorability of this performance was the musical intelligence with which he set out the structure, in a work whose very subject matter is elusiveness. The haunting opening theme had clarity like light through mist, while the secondary theme, which starts in the woodwind beneath a violin countermelody, crept up on the listener like a thought that insinuates and dominates."

Huang Bin performed the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Star: "That evening, Huang was clearly in her element as she brought us on a musical journey lasting just over 10 minutes with Butterfly Lovers."

Rossitza Goza performed the Mendelssohn with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

  • Tulsa World: "This was a performance virtually without flaw, with Goza handling the rapid passagework of the first movement with brilliance and precision, then bringing a marvelous voice-like phrasing and wonderful balance of passion and restraint to the soulful melodies of the second movement, before taking on the joyous, skittering fiddling and happily burbling tunes of the finale."

Peter Winograd performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Pueblo Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Pueblo Chieftain: "The Juilliard alumnus put on a dazzling performance that literally stunned the audience as well as some of the orchestra."

Alexander Sitkovetsky performed the Sibelius with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Keighley News: "The only regular piece was the concerto, Sibelius' Violin Concerto, which received a shatteringly magnificent performance from a little-known Russian violinist, Alexander Sitkovetsky, but who will be returning in February next year with the Tchaikovsky in Leeds."

Kyung-Wha Chung returned to the London stage after 12 years, performing works by Bach, Mozart and Franck in recital, but all anyone was talking about was the coughing.

  • The Guardian: "...she certainly wasn’t relaxed. Exasperated by an avalanche of adult coughing between movements, Chung calmly upbraided some parents for bringing along a young child who dared to cough too....I can’t remember the first half of a concert ever feeling this tense."
  • The Telegraph: "The packed audience was not disappointed. Chung gave a recital in which every note was brim-full of her impetuous, intense personality."
  • Violinist.com: We took a vote, "The last time I had to cough at a classical concert, I..." It seems that most people try to hold it until the end of the movement or piece, but sometimes, you just have to cough!

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can! But, uh, try not to cough, okay? ;)

3 replies

The Week in Reviews, Op. 59: Hilary Hahn, Leonidas Kavakos, Frank Peter Zimmermann in Concert

December 2, 2014 13:05

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.

Hilary Hahn
Photo by Michael Patrick O'Leary

Hilary Hahn returned to performance in the United States, performing the Korngold with the New York Philharmonic.

  • The New York Times: "Ms. Hahn has performed this work for years; her playing was at once impetuous and authoritative, brilliant and beautiful."

Also, Hilary talked about the Korngold before the performance:

Leonidas Kavakos conducted and performed Bartók's "Two Portraits" with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

  • Boston Globe: "The guest conductor and violin soloist was Leonidas Kavakos, who made his BSO debut in 2007 in Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2. “Two Portraits,” which the orchestra had never performed, was welcome, and the Haydn was well played. The Mussorgsky, however, was magnificent."
  • Boston Classical Review: "As a violinist, Kavakos boasts a dexterous technique and a glowing tone. But as a conductor, he often is an awkward presence, leading with swaying, scooping, and even flapping gestures. Personal podium style aside, he managed to bring out the soft textures and delicate inner voices Tuesday night."
  • The Boston Music Intelligencer: "(Kavakos is) apparently good at everything. He’s an outstanding soloist and recitalist, and he’s a fine chamber musician. And he can conduct. But he doesn’t have his own band to shape and mold, and guest gigs can go just so far, so you can’t really judge whether he’d become one of the standouts. While Barenboim may be the prime exception to the rule, from what he demonstrates already, Kavakos has the makings to become another."

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

  • The Daily Review: "This was a formidable performance and it was a privilege to witness Zimmermann at the height of his powers."

Elina Vahala performed the Corigliano with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

  • Detroit Free Press: "Soloist Elina Vahala was terrific, roaring through the blazing Paganini-like passages, leaning into the hyper-romantic melodies and glissandos, projecting Bach-like double-stops to the back of the hall with a fulsome sound."

Dmitri Berlinsky performed the Beethoven with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • The Argus: "The orchestra provided a subtle and at times powerful platform for soloist Dmitri Berlinsky to play a beautifully measured Beethoven Violin Concerto In D Major."

Philippe Quint performed Bernstein's "Serenade" with the Kansas City Symphony.

  • Kansas City Star: "...violinist Philippe Quint performed with passion and precision, the orchestra responding with excellent rapport."

The musical comedy team of violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-ki Joo performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

  • : "No one present is likely ever to hear the slow movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 the same way after hearing it as a violin solo turned into a song with lyrics about being alone that had the symphony players crying and finally getting out of their chairs to hug each other in support."

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

1 reply

Previous entries: November 2014

The Violinist.com Interviews, Vol. 1

The Violinist.com Interviews, Vol. 1

Hear more from the world's top violinists in The Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1, which includes our exclusive conversations with Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, and David Garrett, and others, as well as a foreword by Hilary Hahn.

Get it now! For Kindle | For iBooks | In Paperback

The 2014 Violinist.com Holiday Gift Guide

The 2014 Violinist.com Holiday Gift Guide

We've compiled a list of some of the year's best new offerings from violinists for you to consider.