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The Week in Reviews, Op. 83: Ray Chen, Lisa Batiashvili, Stefan Jackiw

Laurie Niles

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Published: May 19, 2015 at 4:47 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.

Ray Chen performed Lalo's "Symphonie espagnole" with the San Diego Symphony.

  • U-T San Diego: "Ray Chen’s program bio talks about his “unstinting efforts to break down barriers between classical music, fashion and culture” through his affiliations with companies like Giorgio Armani and his appearances in publications like Vogue. But really, Armani and Vogue have nothing to do with it. Chen crashes through any supposed barriers erected around classical music with his playing. As he demonstrated in an especially satisfying, Spanish-themed San Diego Symphony Masterworks concert at Jacobs Music Center Friday, he’s a performer who knows what he wants, knows how to get it, and knows how to communicate it to an audience."

Ray Chen
Ray Chen. Photo by CAMI Music.

Lisa Batiashvili performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • Philadelphia Inquirer: "Violinist Batiashvili was never reckless in Shostakovich, but she continually pushed the piece toward maximum expressivity, not in the confessional manner of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg but in a way that seemed to burn from within. The big cadenza that ushers in the finale, dramatizing a massive mental meltdown while never losing its musical through-line, was a concert in itself. The frenetically-paced final movement seemed to go as fast as the music possibly could, with orchestra and soloist playing as if a single entity."

Stefan Jackiw performed the Mendelssohn and Bottesini's Gran Duo Concertante for Double Bass and Violin with bassist Maxime Bibeau and the Australian Chamber Orchestra

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: "Jackiw returned to end the concert with an earnest, breathless and strikingly accomplished performance of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in an arrangement by Richard Tognetti for 10 string instruments plus soloist. Jackiw's sound is lean and transparent, with thrilling glow in the upper register and characterised by brilliance and refined colour, more than warmth and breadth."
  • The Daily Telegraph: "Jackiw is an exciting talent who is on the verge of classical music stardom. Once he starts building his discography the world should be hearing a lot more of him."

Kristin Lee performed the Fung with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

  • Journal Sentinel: "Opening with faint, atmospheric sounds, the piece is an endlessly interesting tapestry of contrasting sounds, rhythms and moods that delivers bits of the gamelan musical tradition of Bali, Tibetan chant and even phrases reminiscent of Stravinsky. The solo violin part ranges from ghostly harmonics to big, forceful statements. Lee brought a perfect balance of finesse and vigor to the piece, giving a driven, commanding performance that demanded and got rapt attention from the audience."

Sergey Khachatryan performed the Khachaturian with the London Philharmonia Orchestra.

  • The Armenian Weekly: "On the stage, the artist was absorbed in moments of emotional enjoyment, which also engulfed the audience. Khachatryan’s violin produced sounds that were magical, captivating, and mesmerizing. He is truly an exceptionally talented artist."

Ilya Kaler performed the Rozsa with Ars Viva, in its final performance.

  • Chicago Classical Review: "Ars Viva’s 'second concertmaster' Ilya Kaler delivered a sturdy and largely impressive performance, playing with singing tone and fervent attacks. Kaler was clearly in synch with the rhapsodic tenderness of the central Lento, and, with equally propulsive accompaniment by conductor and orchestra, threw off the fireworks of the Bartok-meets-Hollywood finale with worthy fire and panache."

Elina Vähälä performed the Sibelius with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

  • Nashville Scene: "She has a technique that seemingly knows no difficulties, so she blazed through virtuoso passages with seeming effortlessness. And yet, her interpretation never came across as showy. Rather, it was the haunting beauty of her tone and the warm, patrician elegance of her playing that made the biggest impression."

Nicola Benedetti performed two movements from Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the London Symphony Orchestra, outside in Trafalgar Square.

  • Classical Music Magazine: "The event received a positive reaction from those watching, with many taking to social media to express their enthusiasm." (Wondering if the reviewer even went!)

Caroline Goulding performed the Barber with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Sentinel: "The gifted Goulding, now in her 20s, may still be considered precocious by some, but her exquisite play on Barber’s groundbreaking 1939 work, which marries two lyrically sumptuous opening movements with a strongly dissonant finale, displayed a fine and mature touch."
  • PennLive: "Goulding ably demonstrates why the concerto is such a singular showcase for the virtuosic capabilities of a violinist. Her minute-long standing ovation was well earned."

Anthony Marwood performed the Britten with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

  • Stuff: "The Violin Concerto saw Sondergard in complete sympathy with soloist Anthony Marwood. This gave us a subtle, beautifully inflected performance of a work that is not easy to bring off, and few could have remained unaffected by the depth of feeling in the finale - a passacaglia that dies away to nothing."

Bella Hristova performed Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

  • NUVO: "She managed all the 'stuff' with aplomb that Paganini threw at her, and did it with a nicely centered tone, all but equaling the finest laureates to emerge from the competition. Plus Trevor's orchestra easily held up their end of the bargain."

Sergej Krylov performed Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

  • ArtsATL: "...Krylov performed with an amazing brilliance. There was also opportunity aplenty for lyricism, particularly in the slow second movement, but Krylov’s approach retained a sense of an inner tensile strength, never allowing the lyricism to become languid or sentimental. Krylov took multiple bows for his exceptional performance, then played Paganini’s “Caprice No. 24” as encore, with even more personal musical investment than the concerto."

Christian Tetzlaff performed the Widmann with the Cleveland Orchestra.

  • The Plain Dealer: "Tetzlaff was impressive as he tore into the demanding work, his tone full-bodied and sure, even when required to navigate the very highest reaches of his instrument."

Janine Jansen performed the Mendelssohn with the San Francisco Symphony.

  • San Francisco Chronicle: "Her Mendelssohn sparkled, once past the underpowered sonorities of the first movement, and she shaped the melodies of the central slow movement with lyrical grace. But the whole thing felt light and airy enough to float away with the next breeze."

Alexandre Da Costa performed the Sibelius with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Lexington Herald-Leader: "The LPO performed the work creditably, with beautiful contributions throughout by the woodwinds, and by the French horns in the second movement, but less so by the soloist. To give Da Costa the benefit of the doubt, it seemed that the Sibelius is brand new to his repertoire, as he did not perform from memory, rather keeping his eyes fixed on the music stand."

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

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 19, 2015 at 9:37 PM
I would be very interested to hear how such a gifted and intelligent artist as Ray Chen feels an association with Armani and Vogue breaks down barriers between classical music and culture. Not knocking it, I really would like to know. I am having ahard time seeing it but that may be because I am bogged down in anti consumerism while reading Kleins new book on climate change right now. .... Making money by modeling for these kind of companies seems absolutely normal and acceptable to me but I am not sure this connection is a healthy road for art in general to go down.
I am glad to see the Rozsa concerto making an appearnace. I actually thougthe the review wa as little lukewarm. I wonder if the reviewer knows that a) Kayler is one of the best violinsts/ musicians around and b) one reason the Rozsa so rarely appears is that it is very, very, very difficult. The Heifetz recording is absolutely legendary, by the way.
As usual, thanks to Laurie for putting this stuff together.
From Bram Heemskerk
Posted on May 20, 2015 at 7:59 AM
Wow Rosza + Paganini5. I am glad they still play these rarities. Plaese next time these concerto's in Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

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