The Week in Reviews, Op. 311: Akiko Suwanai; Leila Josefowicz; Pekka Kuusisto
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.
Violinist Akiko Suwanai. Photo by Takaki Kumada.
Akiko Suwanai performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra.
- Washington Classical Review: "Akiko Suwanai, who was to have accompanied the NSO on this tour (that was canceled due to COVID-19 coronavirus), took the stage for a blockbuster performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The Japanese violinist, who won the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990 at the tender age of 18, has not been heard in Washington in a long time. She drew forth a searing tone from the 1714 Delfino Stradivarius, an instrument matched beautifully to her bold melodic flair."
- Washington Post: "Suwanai, with full-throated flourish, took a couple of approaches to the parley. At first, she used a notably flexible sense of tempo to command the dialogue, calling extra attention to notes and phrases; in the finale, her big, focused, almost piercing tone took over, carving sonic space, a racecar driver weaving in and out of (and even cutting off) traffic."
Leila Josefowicz performed Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony.
- Datebook: "Salonen’s Violin Concerto is not only a work of extraordinary ingenuity and beauty, it’s one that manages the tricky interchange between tradition and innovation....To say that Josefowicz has mastered every note of this concerto is accurate but hardly sufficient praise."
- San Francisco Classical Voice: "...she wielded her bow arm like a painter’s knife, sailing through icy high notes and washy melodic fragments. She imbued crunchy, acerbic stabs with color. Her bond with the work — and her genuine love for it — shone through when the orchestra entered two minutes into the first movement."
Pekka Kuusisto performed Nielsen’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
- Chicago Tribune: "The Finnish violinist made a compelling case for this rarely performed work...Kuusisto did not approach this music conventionally. There was grit in his tone and sharpness in his attacks, both underscoring the first movement’s profundities. The violinist brought considerable sweep to long lines, showed complete technical command and illuminated the overall architecture."
Anne Akiko Meyers performed Adam Schoenberg's Violin Concerto "Orchard in Fog" with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.
- DC Metro Theater Arts: "Meyers is an absolute joy to watch, playing the first movement meditatively and thoughtfully, with moments of powerful emotion. The Symphony blends well with her violin, a few unusual musical sounds working well with it. The second movement is all energy, with almost a pop music, heroic feel to it, drums beating along with the violins. It is thrilling."
Joshua Bell performed and conducted Paganini’s Concerto No. 1 with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
- The Boston Musical Intelligencer: "Bell phrased with intentional focus and contour; each of his opening statements sounded as operatic blocks, in the bel canto style of the composition."
Kelly Hall-Tompkins performed Joseph Bologne’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
- The Baltimore Sun: "Bologne, a contemporary of Mozart, is a notable historical figure: He is among the first well-known composers of Western classical music who was also of African descent. But Hall-Tompkins’ performance makes the case that we should hear a lot more of Bologne’s music simply for its beauty."
Stefan Jackiw performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the San Diego Symphony.
- San Diego Reader: "Concerning Stefan Jackiw, you will not find a more intelligent or engaged musician anywhere on the world stage. His approach to Beethoven was appropriately athletic when required while pushing the limits of lyricism with the delicacy of his phrasing."
Simone Porter performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor with the New Jersey Symphony.
- : "Only in the cadenza of the first movement “Allegro” did Porter appear to get swept up by the music. The result was thrilling, as if she was suddenly making this music up on the spot."
Sergej Krylov performed Spohr’s Second Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
- The Guardian: "Krylov sounded superb, playing with attractive sweetness of tone and easy, if understated dexterity. Neither he nor Vänskä, however, could disguise the fact that the polonaise finale overstays its welcome."
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