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The Week in Reviews, Op. 103: Isabelle Faust, Gil Shaham, Jinjoo Cho

Laurie Niles

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Published: October 20, 2015 at 5:07 PM [UTC]

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

Isabelle Faust performed the Berg with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

  • The Arts Desk: "Isabelle Faust was the most exquisite and sensitive interpreter imaginable. Her playing was fluid and otherworldly, undemonstrative and totally integrated into the orchestral sound. It would have been matter-of-fact had it not been so beautiful. For music supposedly written according to Schoenberg’s 12-note system, it was in places remarkably lush and harmonically satisfying."

Isabelle Faust
Isabelle Faust. Photo by Felix Broede, courtesy the artist

Gil Shaham performed Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • The New York Times: "Gil Shaham proved a controlled, eloquent soloist more than capable of balancing wistfulness and regret, anger and hope. Mr. Shaham’s encore, the 'Gavotte en rondeau' from Bach’s E major Partita, rightly had an improvisatory, joyful feel."
  • New York Classical Review: Shaham always seemed sure of exactly where he wanted to take the music, and he guided the listener ably, whether through the wandering ruminations of the Andante tranquillo, or through the cheeky humor of the scherzando section....The encore that he offered, the Gavotte en rondeau from Bach’s E Major Partita, was sublime. Bursting with joy, irresistibly playful, and peppered with sparkling ornamentation in the refrain, this was some of the best Bach playing you’ll ever hear...

Jinjoo Cho performed the Tchaikovsky with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

  • NUVO: "She displayed chops that I didn't quite hear in her competition performances, raising my estimate of her abilities."

James Ehnes performed Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

  • Madison Magazine: "...on this occasion..., Ehnes took a warhorse and shined it up like it belongs in the Violin Concerto Hall of Fame."

Christian Tetzlaff performed Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the San Francisco Symphony.

  • The San Francisco Chronicle: "These days, Tetzlaff sports a Mephistophelean goatee and a wild mop of curls, he moves with easy freedom, and his artistry is more expansive and joyful than it’s ever been. In the Shostakovich, that meant bringing mournful splendor to the long melodic phrases of the opening Nocturne, ferocious wit to the superfast scherzo that follows, and practically titanic power and immediacy to the huge cadenza that sits at the heart of the concerto. The result was breathtaking."
  • San Jose Mercury News: "Tetzlaff, however, delivered a flawless performance, easing into the opening Nocturne with deep, inward concentration."
  • "Tetzlaff clearly appreciated that there was more to his part than satisfying the many technical challenges set forth by the score. Reflecting the complementary role of the orchestra, his readings were always as much rhetorical as they were precise in execution."

Philippe Quint performed the Korngold with the Richmond Symphony.

  • Richmond Times-Dispatch: "The violinist opted ... to expose finer strands of tone and color, most effectively in the concerto’s slow movement. His relatively lean tone also paid off in an exceptionally nimble reading of the work’s playful finale."

Vadim Gluzman performed Gubaidulina's "Offertorium" with the Oregon Symphony:

  • The Oregonian: "Guzman was unsurpassed in his conviction, embracing both the technical challenges and solemnity of "Offertorium" in fulfillment of Gubaidulina's characterization of the piece as sacrifice, including the player's sacrifice to the tone. Even in slow sections that challenged listeners with their ambiguities and spiritual desolation, he kept the audience's attention and rewarded it with the glorious redemption of the closing chorale."

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

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Posted on October 23, 2015 at 7:18 PM
It is not that I seek out negative reviews but I wonder if it is intentional that only positive reviews are posted when you do these. It just takes away some credibility to come across the thread knowing every review will be a positive one.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 23, 2015 at 9:18 PM
We post the reviews that are sent to us and that we find through things like Google News and Facebook. We link to them so that you can read the entire review if you wish. I pull out quotes from each one, and they tend to be the positive ones.

The reviews say all kinds of things,and of course I don't reprint them in their entirety. For example, this week, the person reviewing Philippe Quint also said, "Quint did not reproduce the Technicolor brilliance of Heifetz in his prime – Smith and the symphony more than compensated on that score."

I happen to think that it's ludicrous to be comparing anyone to "Heifetz in his prime." No one on the planet sounds like Heifetz in his prime and did the reviewer actually hear Heifetz live, in his prime? What did he even mean by that?

People are welcome to completely disagree with me. I'm trying to get the conversation started. And if others wish to pull out quotes they like, agree with, disagree with, want to comment on, then please do! And I always welcome people to send reviews that they wish to have included in this list. We make it on Tuesday morning, so send us links (to by the end of the day Monday.

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