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The Week in Reviews, Op. 106: Nicola Benedetti, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Christian Tetzlaff

Laurie Niles

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Published: November 10, 2015 at 6:15 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.

Nicola Benedetti premiered the new violin concerto by Wynton Marsalis, with the London Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Guardian: "Benedetti initially had to tell Marsalis her part wasn’t difficult enough; it’s certainly difficult now, and her sparky performance sold the work to us with all she could muster. It still felt like the longest concerto ever written."
  • The Telegraph: "This concerto has been a labour of love for her, and she soared over its very challenging technical demands with a radiant lofty lyricism, touching intimate bluesiness, and furious rhythmic energy."
  • The Independent: "In her first cadenza, Benedetti let rip with a melange of ferocious sawing and delicate, high-lying threads of melody: this music was technically demanding. The second movement saw her instrument emitting squeaks and chirps over a wah-wah brass bass, and it ended in a Scottish folk song with a double-stopped violin lament. The third movement, a celebration of the blues, felt like the heart of the work. Here Benedetti’s playing was convincingly idiomatic, if it also periodically took on a Balkan tinge; although improvisation was not on the menu, this did feel improvised.:
  • The Arts Desk: " Despite the generally conservative style, it is an ambitious work, its sheer length tending towards outright indulgence. But it received the most committed and consummate premiere performance this evening from Nicola Benedetti and the London Symphony Orchestra. Whatever its faults, it is hard to imagine the work ever sounding better than this."

Nicola Benedetti
Nicola Benedetti. © Simon Fowler.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja premiered the new violin concerto by Michael Hersch... and performed her version of the Beethoven, with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

  • Star Tribune: "The intensity of her playing, along with her near-flawless technique and fetching personality have earned enthusiastic audiences. Surely orchestra concerts are too solemn and maybe Kopatchinskaja is an antidote to that."
  • Pioneer Press: "If there were any outraged traditionalists in the crowd, they weren't evident, for just about everyone was standing and applauding at the concert's conclusion. It was yet another triumph for Kopatchinskaja, currently one of the most exciting artists in classical music and one who might leave you believing we have a bit of a mad genius in our midst, an intrepid adventurer with the mind of a masterful musicologist and the spirit of an adrenaline-addled punk rocker."

Christian Tetzlaff performed the Mendelssohn with the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

  • The New York Times: "... an exhilarating account that reimagined received ideas at every turn. From measure to measure, you had no idea what soloist and conductor alike would do with (or to) such familiar music. Mendelssohn the amiable, pristine and dreamy? Think again: This was a nightmare, and chillingly powerful."

Leonidas Kavakos performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Cleveland Orchestra.

  • The Plain Dealer: "Coming from him, the angst-filled Nocturne was almost more than one could bear, an icy stream of melody. Similarly, both the Scherzo and Burlesca overflowed their emotional banks. The former progressed like a fever, brewing steadily and rising to a fast, almost violent boil, while in the latter, Kavakos struggled not with technical matters but to contain his own virtuosity."

Maxim Vengerov performed the Brahms with the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Evening Standard: "Playing the Brahms Violin Concerto, he was kept in check by conductor Papadopoulos’s sometimes ponderous tempos, yet he still coaxed gorgeous sounds from his Stradivarius. In the first movement’s solo cadenza he displayed a winning hint of devilry, which also served him well in the concerto’s energetic finale, even though the orchestra remained rather earthbound."

Baiba Skride performed the Schumann with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Arts Desk: "Together, they did everything possible to rescue a work that eludes all but a tiny handful of interpreters....Skride brought a dusky, singing quality to Schumann’s ungrateful writing; her sound has a lovely, affecting catch in its voice."
  • The Guardian: "The most delicate filigree underpinned her at just the right moments, but that’s not to say her performance lacked blood; far from it. There was real drama in the first movement, and the orchestra dug into the heavily accented polonaise of the finale with sprightly verve as Skride raced to the finish with disarming ease."

Rimma Bergeron-Langlois performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Orlando Philharmonic.

  • "Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 juxtaposes warm, yet restrained melodies, with thin and icy structures, to create a delectable soundscape that only gets better with repeated listening. Concertmaster Rimma Bergeron-Langlois captured this duality in her playing to deliver a smooth interpretation. She took the opening lines, over the quivering accompaniment, with subdued dynamics, which gave her the right flexibility to swell as the piece progresses."

Anne Akiko Meyers performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Pasadena Symphony.

  • "She was dazzling, depicting the singing of the birds, the weeping shepherd’s fear of the pending storm and his attempt to rest by painting perfect pictures through her tones, modulations, and beautiful harmony with the orchestra."

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

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