October 2014

The Week in Reviews, Op. 54: Chee-Yun, Anne Akiko Meyers, Pinchas Zukerman in Concert

October 28, 2014 12:51

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.

Photo courtesy the artist

Chee-Yun performed the Tchaikovsky with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

  • Arizona Daily Star: "Chee-Yun....was nothing short of breathtaking in her solo turn at Tchaikovsky's technically challenging Violin Concerto in D major. Her pristine 1669 Francesco Ruggieri violin, reportedly buried with its owner and re-emerging in 1991 with no scratches or wear and tear to hint at its antiquity, produced the lushest, most gorgeous sound. There were no wolfs, as she called them, little hiccups and distortions that can muddy the works especially on a piece that demands so much of the musician."

Anne Akiko Meyers performed Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with the Des Moines Symphony.

  • Des Moines Register: "...the familiar melodies sounded bright and nimble, and Meyers' tone was as clean as Windexed glass."

Joshua Bell performed works by Schubert, Grieg and Prokofiev in recital with pianist Alessio Bax.

  • Violinist.com: "He may have the timeless look of a young man, he may entertain us at times, but he also has the conspicuous maturity of a concert artist that has been at his craft for 40+ years."

Pinchas Zukerman performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

  • Herald Scotland: "Centrepiece of the programme, of course, was the legendary violinist's performance of Bruch's First Violin Concerto, as rich and warm as you would expect from one of the great violinists of the era, though there were a few moments, notably in the finale, where balance between Zukerman and his splendid orchestra was slightly askew, often an issue where the soloist is the director."
  • Edinburgh Guide: "The highlight of the evening without doubt was the Bruch Violin Concerto No 1 where Pinchas Zuckerman not only played the solo part but conducted too. The audience loved it."

Yuriy Bekker performed the Beethoven with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Post and Courier: "Nuance and sensitivity informed this performance, too. Bekker's showed off Beethoven's nicer, gentler side, providing a sweet yet full tone and a fluid, unrushed interpretation. The orchestra might have provided a little more dynamic contrast, but what it did offer was a full-bodied sound during the famously long exposition and a most gracious accompaniment to Bekker's lovely playing."

Agata Szymczewska performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1 with The Swan Orchestra.

  • Exeter Express and Echo: "Agata doesn't just play well, either, she plays dramatically, proving with fancy bow flourishes and emphatic swaying that showmanship isn't purely the domain of more modern music either. She is rightly applauded back to the stage three times, finishing with a charming solo violin piece as an encore."

Jeffrey Multer performed the Barber with the Florida Orchestra.

  • Tampa Bay Times: "Multer's work on Barber's Violin Concerto was transcendent, perhaps because of its significance to him. He learned it during a difficult time in his own life, he said during the pre-concert conversation. He called the piece a 'breakthrough.'"

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

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 53: Leonidas Kavakos, Isabelle Faust, Simon Michal in Concert

October 21, 2014 13:36

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.

Leonidas Kavakos
Photo courtesy Decca / © Daniel Regan

Leonidas Kavakos performed three Brahms sonatas in recital with pianist Yuja Wang.

  • The Telegraph: "He has a naturally noble sound, thanks to his fabulous bow control which can sustain an even unblemished line from tip to heel. It felt exactly right for Brahms, whose own control over his musical materials was equally iron. And in the slow movements, where Brahms relaxes and indulges his taste for rich sonorities, Kavakos’s clean, pure line kept sentimentality at bay."

Isabelle Faust performed the Britten with the San Francisco Symphony.

  • San Francisco Chronicle: "Faust give the piece a thin, laborious reading, in which mournful respect was replaced by grim hectoring."
  • San Francisco Classical Voice: "Her performance and technique were as striking as her bright red, serape-like blouse that evoked the spirit of Iberia."
  • Examiner.com: "Britten’s concerto is as technically demanding as it is intensely expressive. Fortunately, Faust approached the concerto with a solid command of technique (as solid as the technical dexterity she brought to her recording of the Berg concerto). Equally, important was her chemistry with Denève, responsible for providing her with a context based on Britten’s deep understanding of every instrument in a full orchestra."

Simon Michal performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Juilliard Orchestra.

  • The New York Times: "Czech violinist Simon Michal played with freedom and deep tone. It was a little fussy at times, but his nonchalance and ability to shape a phrase suggested a talent we will hear more from."

Pinchas Zukerman performed the Beethoven with the IRIS Orchestra.

  • The Commercial Appeal: "His performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major was a testament to the ways virtuosity can be expressed."

Valeriy Sokolov performed Bartok's Second Violin Concerto with the Ulster Orchestra.

  • Belfast Telegraph: "Intense, vibrant, technically superb, Sokolov exploited every nuance of genius in Bartok's music."

So-Ock Kim performed the Mendelssohn with the York Guildhall Orchestra.

  • The Press: "So-Ock Kim is not your typical violin virtuoso. She has all the ammunition, but she spurns fireworks for their own sake. So her account of the concerto was off the beaten track – and all the more refreshing for that."

Laurence Jackson performed the Bruch with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

  • Birmingham Post: "It was a performance of grace and good taste – a little too much of the latter perhaps."

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

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 52: Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Lisa Batiashvili in Concert

October 14, 2014 12:08

This week marks the completion of our first year of bringing you the Week in Reviews! To celebrate, we have a star-studded round-up of excellent violin performances from around the world for you... oh, wait, that's what we have for you every week, here on the Week in Reviews. ;^)

Thank you for following us over the past year and for your continued support of the violin community, here online and in person at live performances in your community.

Joshua Bell performed works by Mendelssohn and Beethoven with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Sarah Chang performed the Barber with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

  • Detroit Free Press: "Introverted and unsmiling, her interpretation ran contrary to the lush songfulness of the two opening movements. Even the athletic finale, with all of its dazzling passage work, came across as joyless. Chang must believe the piece a more deeply serious work than it is commonly thought to be, and I admire her willingness to stick to her vision, but it left me cold."
  • Detroit News: "Listening to the concerto is like going for a leisurely Sunday drive, but when the jolting third movement arrives, we’re suddenly on the autobahn at breakneck speed. The relentless perpetual motion of zipping triplets can unravel even the most technically assured violinist, but Chang kept her cool, taking off like a colt out of the gate and crossing the finish line with aplomb."

Lisa Batiashvili
Photo courtesy the artist

Lisa Batiashvili performed the Brahms with the New York Philharmonic.

  • The New York Times: "Every violinist has things to say about this overfamiliar piece, and Ms. Batiashvili played it bracingly, without any sense of routine. She pushed the tonal envelope but never to breaking point, and sang with ravishingly long lines in the slow movement."
  • New York Classical Review: "Batiashvili’s playing was rugged, playful, blood-stirring all at once. She played firmly in the string for almost the entire (last) movement, relenting only for the brief, singing quasi-cadenza right before the coda. This was a brilliant start to her yearlong residency with the Philharmonic."

Augustin Hadelich performed Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Telegraph: "...he was a heart-warming reincarnation of those naturally graceful violinists of the past like Schneiderhan or Grumiaux. High-spirits went hand-in-hand with perfect finesse."
  • The Guardian: "...it was good to hear Augustin Hadelich, who was a fluent, vibrant-toned soloist in the Concerto and a laid-back virtuoso in his encore, Paganini’s Caprice No 9."

Simone Lamsma performed the Korngold with the Oregon Symphony.

  • The Oregonian: "Her playing was lean and tightly wound, with a silvery tone and tense vibrato, and she captured the music's intense lyricism and met its considerable technical demands with the kind of energy that kept you on the edge of your seat even as you wanted to melt off it during the slow movement."

James Ehnes performed Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: "His playing has transparency and strength yet betrays no hint of undue forcefulness or harshness. The brooding opening of the first movement was purely shaped and musically cogent, while the second movement found a serenity rare in 20th-century works."

Rachel Barton Pine performed Vieuxtemps' Fifth Violin Concerto with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

  • Isthmus: "The work's virtuosic demands were brought off fabulously by Barton Pine, balanced by sweet lyricism that demonstrated her genuine musicality and comprehensive understanding."

Hyeyoon Park performed the Bruch with Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

  • Time Out Hong Kong: "Park not only hit, but luxuriated in, each note, visibly engaged in passionate musical expression. She took the concerto at a slightly slower tempo than it is commonly played, and the audience was grateful for the chance to share how strongly she felt the music."

Paul Huang performed the Walton with the Alabama Symphony.

  • The Birmingham News: "Paul Huang, filling in for the originally scheduled soloist Elissa Lee Koljonen, displayed a brilliance that few 23-year-olds can. Commissioned by Jascha Heifetz and premiered in 1939, the concerto is one of most demanding of the 20th century, both for soloist and the orchestra. Huang captured its furiosity while delivering penetrating volume and sparkling technique that would be the envy of violinists twice his age."

Michael Ludwig performed the Barber with Festival Miami.

  • South Florida Classical Review: "Michael Ludwig, former concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic, displayed an idiomatic sensibility for Barber’s brand of American lyricism."

Victoria Mullova performed Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto with the Hallé Orchestra.

  • The Telegraph: "In a way it’s disappointing that Mullova’s playing hasn’t deepened emotionally over the years. Still, her clean attack, even under the greatest virtuoso pressure, was borderline phenomenal, and her indomitable sound in the final Burlesque won’t be forgotten in a hurry."
  • The Arts Desk: "She gave an exhilarating account of the work, full of passion, precision and power. She showed real understanding of the dramatic shaping the concerto demands, from the deceptively restrained opening Nocturne, played with great delicacy, to the dazzling exuberance of the solo cadenza of the third movement. And in the closing Burlesque we found her skipping along with technical bravura."

Kyra Humphreys performed the Bach's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

  • The Northern Echo: "Kyra Humphreys...gave a towering rendition of Bach’s Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor, eloquently building up the rich material of the opening movement."

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 51: Jennifer Koh, Bella Hristova, Philippe Quint in Concert

October 7, 2014 13:23

In an effort to promote the coverage of live music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world.

Jennifer Koh performed the Sibelius with the Berkeley Symphony

  • San Jose Mercury News: "Koh gave the kind of fiercely focused, technically brilliant performance that makes doubters into true believers."
  • The San Francisco Chronicle: "Koh has been a formidable performer here over the years, in both standard repertoire and new music. But in the Sibelius, she and Carneiro couldn’t agree on even basic tempo decisions, and neither one could spur the other to give the music much vitality or flavor."

Bella Hristova
Bella Hristova. Photo courtesy the artist

Bella Hristova performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Rogue Valley Symphony

  • Mail Tribune: "...she mixed exquisite phrasing with brilliant tonality. This is one of the finest concertos of the 20th century, and Hristova seemed at home in its soul-stirring torment and sheer Russian soul."

Philippe Quint performed the Korngold with the Seattle Symphony

  • The Seattle Times: "Quint’s technique was solid, and his passionate commitment to the score was evident in every line."

Anne-Sophie Mutter performed Bruch's First Violin Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

  • The New York Times: "At 51, Ms. Mutter remains as probing and adventurous as ever. In the Bruch work, her sound was dusky and rich. Yet it is hard to speak of a Mutter sound, since she always finds specific colorings and qualities to match the musical moment."
  • New York Classical Review: "Anne-Sophie Mutter, still the most glamorous violinist in the world after a thirty-some year career, has the requisite star power to rattle off a sensational performance of this concerto, and she did just that. She was fiercely assertive in the first movement, employing idiomatic turns of phrase that put her unique stamp on the piece. Rattle led an intense, pulsating accompaniment."

Frank Peter Zimmerman performed the Mendelssohn with the Philarmonia Orchestra

  • South Wales Evening Post: "Frank Peter Zimmerman, one of Germany's leading violinists took the lead here and was mesmerising. The rest of the orchestra were still brilliant, but it was difficult to remove your eyes from the work of this maestro who seemed to stretch the violin beyond its capabilities."

Alexandre Da Costa performed Michael Daugherty's Fire and Blood with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra

  • Ottawa Citizen: "The first movement, Volcano, echoes Rivera’s fiery, voracious nature, as well as the dangerous flames of revolution being fanned both in Mexico and the U.S. by the Great Depression. This is unabashedly macho music, and the passionate, charismatic Da Costa threw his back into it with muscle and verve. The second movement, River Rouge, pays tribute to Rivera’s wife, Frieda Kahlo. Da Costa shifted into the section’s slithering sensuality and eerie mood, redolent of Kahlo’s paintings, the yin to the outer movements’ yang. Assembly Line, the final movement, rattled and hummed like a factory, with Da Costa like a crazed foreman constantly pushing for more speed, more power, and more cowbell."

Jeremy Mastrangelo performed all of Johannes Brahms' violin sonatas in recital with Juan La Manna

  • The Oswegonian: "The audience was treated to Mastrangelo’s animated and lively playing."

Baiba Skride performed the Martin with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

  • Pioneer Press: "Equally graceful and lyrical was Latvian violinist Skride, who brought a firm hand and a fascinating imagination to the Martin concerto. It was an impassioned performance, a deeply involving first-movement cadenza giving way to an urgent Andante and a swashbuckling finale a la Erich Korngold."

Finally, "Requiem for Michael Brown" — Several audience members staged a musical protest of the killing of an unarmed Black youth in Missouri this summer, before the start of the St. Louis Symphony's performance of the Brahms Requiem.

  • The Washington Post: "The group was surprised by the response, said Derek Laney, an organizer for Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. Instead of being ushered out in handcuffs by police, some patrons of the symphony — and some symphony members themselves — applauded the tuneful message. The group left on their own after about a minute and a half of singing, while they chanted 'Blacks Lives Matter.'"

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

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