The Week in Reviews, Op. 206: Arabella Steinbacher; David Kim; Leila Josefowicz

November 13, 2017, 11:25 AM · 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.

Arabella Steinbacher performed the Berg with the Chicago Symphony Orcehstra.

Arabella Steinbacher
Arabella Steinbacher. Photo by Sammy Hart.

David Kim performed Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Leila Josefowicz performed works by Zimmermann, Adams, Sibelius and Prokofiev in recital with pianist John Novacek.

William Preucil performed the Vivaldi with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Harry Bennetts performed the Tchaikovsky with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

Isabelle van Keulen performed the Mendelssohn with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Andrés Cárdenes performed works by Prokofiev and Schumann with the Atlanta Chamber Players.

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


November 14, 2017 at 06:04 PM · I saw Augustin Hadelich on Wednesday. He was playing with pianist Conor Hanick. They played Beethoven's 4th sonata, Brahms' 2nd sonata, Stephen Hartke's Netsuke, Ravel's mature sonata, Sarasate's Zapateado, with the Milstein transcription of Chopin's Nocturne in C# minor as an eencore.

He could seemingly do anything with his bow. Every note came through and the playing had a great clarity. In the first half of the program, the Beethoven and Brahms were played with such a romantic intensity, that it actually became a bit much for me. Hadelich has a strongly articulated attack (not banging or anything), and can vary the pressure and sound a lot on just one bow. The tempos were pretty brisk, but all of the phrasing made a lot of sense, and no detail was lost because of it. My issue is that the vibrato is really intense even in piano, and I think those pieces, despite being played in a really "romantic" way, would have benefited from a little more contrast in terms of sound intensity, and that a little more semplice bowing and easing off the vibrato a tad at times would provide some space for me to catch my breath.

The second half made a very strong case for the Hartke, which has a lot of extended technique (like the pianist hitting inside the piano with a rubber mallet), playing some really cross cross-rhythms, and other interesting stuff. The music was pretty interesting, aside from the last movement, which was a mind-numbingly static series of chords, slowly and regularly being sounded (the performers did as well as could be expected). The Ravel was still pretty lush and almost romantic, but more restrained in vibrato and tonal intensity compared to the Beethoven and Brahms. I would have liked the sound used in the Ravel to have also been used in those. The Sarasate was really exciting and rhythmic, and the Chopin was beautifully sung.

Conor Hanick did an incredible job throughout. His playing was really subtle, and every single note he played was perfectly shaped. I wrote a lot about Hadelich's playing, but the pianist was the real surprise for me in this concert.

November 15, 2017 at 04:44 PM · @Christian Lesniak ~

Not having heard the concert you have so eloquently written of, it was and is a joy to read about a pianist being, '.. The real surprise for (you) me in this concert.' Accompanying is a true Art in and of itself, having learned and witnessed this from baby-hood! My Mother had a 'savant' gift for transposition (noticed by Arnold Schoenberg, who engaged her as his Alternate pianist to Leonard Stein, for his most advanced classes at UCLA, impromptu, & most adept at 'reading' Schoenberg's atonal harmonies near flawlessly in both his orchestral

& chamber orchestral scores (sometimes without piano reduction scores - circa 1938 - 1940).

Her great love of the piano and more so of the repertoire for Violin, Vocalist's, Violoncellist's, & a bevy of other orchestral solo instruments created enormous demand for her accompanying LA's famous & not famous musician's ... After a lifetime of watching & playing with the 'perfect' coco pianist/duo partner, I observed the rare qualities necessary can not be taught! It is a deep inner love and yearning to provide velvet gloved musical support for the soloist or duo partner, which lifts an accompanist way up and above 'normal' following the artist, so to speak!

My very un-naturally modest Mother, orphaned twice at tender age's 7 & 9, put her heart and soul into the music and sounds of the Piano to cope and grieve ~ her pure love for Music led her to become, (not by design), the most loving accompanist in all Los Angeles and later on, to be complimented by the greatest friend/violinist of Leopold Auer, London's Sascha Lasserson (whom my mentor, Jascha Heifetz, had taken my JH Violin Master Class class-mate, Erick Friedman, to play for) to say to 'Momma' after an impromptu reading of the Brahms Sonata #3 in d minor for Violin & Piano, "Betty, you are the greatest pianist/accompanist I've ever played with including all our revered accompanists here in London. What an honour for me to make music with you!!" My father and I were thrilled to tears ... Her personality, shaped by darkened Life Trauma's at most tender ages, became a willing partner always wishing the 'soloist' to be highlighted and to shine. The 'other' vital element was her actual Love of the Music with no ego involvement whatsoever. It was always her mission to provide warmed musical support or a fall-back "home" for whomever she accompanied, and to enable this, my Mother had a rare ear for balance and highest regard for dynamics alla the accompanist dynamics interpretation, as opposed to (with all due respect) the 'soloist's dynamics' mentality. Never craving nor wishing the spotlight lent her that indefinable quality of being most happy accompanying & enhancing the artist's quest for the ultimate good ~ The Music!!

Thank you, Christian Lesniak, for writing your Reply comments above, for we lost my Mother just 4 years and 5 months ago, and upon reading your words, opened a window to pay tribute to a great woman, wife, mother, friend and musician of 'other worldly' wisdom ~

Please accept warmed thoughts on this 15th of November, 2017, Day ~

Elisabeth, daughter of my Wondrous and Forever missed, 'Momma' ~ Betty *

*I've always wished 'Momma' could have glistened the keyboard ivories playing my mentor,

Nathan Milstein's, deeply moving & tender Chopin Nocturne in C# minor for Violin & Piano ...

November 15, 2017 at 05:12 PM · To ~ Christian Lesniak

Please accept my regrets if the Response to your wonderful Reply above does post with no identifying name. Being so moved reading your musical walk-through, in response, I wrote about a very rare accompanist I knew all my life ~ my mother, whom I sorely miss and can say whatever Good within me as a person, daughter and musician, (violinist), is due to my Mother's lifetime mentoring - as you shall hopefully read. (Please excuse my absentminded- ness at not Logging in, and pray my anonymous response on this 15th of November, 2017 Day will post ... )

Your words about the pianist, Conor Hanick, opened a window for me to write a bit about my late pianist/accompanist mother, Betty ~

Thank you very much, Christian!

Yours musically ...

Elisabeth (Matesky)

November 15, 2017 at 08:04 PM · Thanks Elizabeth. I'm glad you got something out of my review. Your stories are always very interesting. My father was also an excellent pianist and accompanist, so hopefully that has sensitized me somewhat to the balance and chamber aspects of performance.

And thinking back on my review, I've seen Hadelich play with orchestras 3 times before, and he always blew me away. This is probably a personal preference of mine, but I think his sound production asks for a few small adjustments in playing chamber music, but he is definitely worth seeing in any context.

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