The Week in Reviews, Op. 200: Joshua Bell; Pekka Kuusisto; Rachel Barton Pine
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. Welcome to the 200th edition of Violinist.com's "The Week in Reviews"!
Joshua Bell performed Bernstein's Serenade with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
- Violinist.com: "The piece begins with violin alone, a single voice tracing a kind of lament. In the hands of Bell, it was an unwavering voice, arresting yet vulnerable. "
- LA Times: "Bell made a good, characterful Sony recording of the Serenade with David Zinman and the Philharmonia of London in 2001, one of the better versions issued since Bernstein’s death. At the Alex, though, some precious mannerisms crept into his interpretation, disrupting the line, and neither Bell nor Martín could quite get the jazzy swagger of the finale as well as Bell did in 2001. Yet Bell was at his formidable best in the tiny bustling scherzo, hitting the notes in an often barely audible whisper, and cutting loose in the finale’s rambunctious coda."
Pekka Kuusisto performed the Bjarnason with the Philharmonia.
- The Guardian: "It began with Kuusisto simultaneously whistling and plucking a melody, an idea taken up by the other violins. The music, highly detailed, lopes and swaggers with a wonky yet irresistible rhythmic pull, but there’s room too for passages of reflection, played by Kuusisto with achingly sweet tone."
- The Arts Desk: "Daníel Bjarnason’s Violin Concerto, a rhythmic tour-de-force in total contrast, was obviously written for the idiosyncratic talent – close on genius – of Pekka Kuusisto (though you wouldn’t know it from a note which said absolutely nothing about the work itself)."
Rachel Barton Pine performed the Korngold with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.
- South Bend Tribune: "During the pre-concert talk, Pine spoke in terms of the work’s 'soaring melodies' and “schmaltzy slides,” and those were the kinds of passages where she seized her opportunities for deeply expressive playing."
Joshua Bell performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra.
- Lincoln Journal Star: "Bell played from memory, exhibiting outstanding tonal projection and consummate communication with the musicians."
Alina Pogostkina performed the Berg with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
- The Arts Desk: "Most violinists play it as a desperate struggle against death....For Alina Pogostkina, this was pure abstraction – not without emotion, but smilingly in focus throughout."[Listen to the performance, via the BBC]
Daniel Chong performed Bernstein's Serenade with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra.
- South Coast Today: "Chong blazed through some truly difficult music. He stood out especially in a challenging cadenza, set in the fourth movement. Barely a melody — all gesture, full of double-stops and challenging intervals — Chong carved it out of almost nothing, making complete sense of the thorny passage, and providing context to the audience."
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