Didn't I just see Hadelich play the Ligeti Violin Concerto in Aspen? Didn't he then play the Mendelssohn concerto days after?
How on Earth does he do this? Incidentally, Hadelich went on to perform the Barber Concerto on Thursday at the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder. Four concertos, in one week!
Certainly few mortals can keep up with Hadelich, but I did at least go see him play the Sibelius Tuesday at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Phil and conductor Stéphane Denève. This evening happened to come after a day in which temperatures in Los Angeles soared past 100 degrees, with everyone hunkering inside, as close to an AC vent as possible all day. Of course, Hadelich and members of the LA Phil did not get to do so -- they held their dress rehearsal outdoors, in the heat of the day!
The evening was a welcome contrast, the air rapidly cooling on the hillside where the Hollywood Bowl sits. The concert began with the LA Phil playing Sibelius's "Valse Triste." A bird glided overhead, the flags on either side of the stage waved gently and a waxing moon hung in the early evening sky, and somehow the soothing, lilting nature of this music was the perfect mood-setter for the Sibelius Concerto. (The occasional interruption from a helicopter notwithstanding.)
The Sibelius Concerto starts with stillness and grows from there, and Hadelich conveyed that quiet opening in a way that drew together the far-flung audience members in this enormous venue.
With Hadelich, everything is placed just so, and a thicket of notes becomes something clear, with the musical idea emerging in an obvious, seemingly inevitable way. The end of the first movement drew enthusiastic applause from the audience, which in LA seldom hesitates to clap between movements, God love us all. As a well-trained classical musician I know better of course, yet there I was, absent-mindedly clapping like crazy. It felt impossible not to.
The second movement showed off some of the LA Phil's fine woodwind playing (from clarinetist Burt Hara, flutist Catherine Ransom Karoly and others). In parts of this movement there is such thick orchestration, and yet Hadelich placed things so precisely that I realized how seldom I've actually heard every note fall so well into place in this piece. The last movement was a wild, catchy and satisfying ride on Sibelius's lopsided roller coaster.
For an encore Hadelich played the 21st Caprice by Paganini, emphasizing the nuance and the music over the pyrotechnics while still giving us plenty of breathtaking virtuosity, for example: some wicked-impressive flying staccato.
I guess the moral of this story is: even if you just saw Augustin Hadelich play, go see Augustin Hadelich play again if he is in town!
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