February 2014

The Week in Reviews, Op. 20: Lisa Batiashvili, Vilde Frang, Michael Barenboim in concert

February 25, 2014 15:27

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Augustin Hadelich performed the Brahms with the Grand Rapids Symphony

  • Grand Rapids Press: "A sweet, singing tone spins from his Stradivarius, but Hadelich has the emotional restraint to ladle out passion carefully, favoring expressiveness over exuberance. In short, he's well suited to interpret Brahms."

Jonathan Crow performed the Beethoven with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

  • National Post: "If we expect concertmasters to play it safe, Crow was in no mood to confirm the stereotype."
  • ConcertoNet: "The reverie of the second movement probably came off best, but the whole performance was a real success."

Lisa Batiashvili

Lisa Batiashvili performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic in Taiwan

  • Focus Taiwan: "Violinist Lisa Batiashvili charmed the audience with her sophisticated solo performance in the violin concerto. At the end of the program, the audience stayed and cheered for around five minutes, to which the orchestra responded by offering an encore."

Anne-Sophie Mutter performed the Dvorák with the Boston Symphony Orchestra

  • Boston Classical Review: "As heard on her recent recording of these works (with Honeck conducting the Berlin Philharmonic) and performance Thursday night, Mutter's playing is rife with free-flowing expression and razor-sharp focus."
  • Boston Globe: "Mutter, too, from her first entrance played with conviction, tonal variety, and at times a muscular brand of virtuosity. She pushed her tone in certain passages presumably to make an interpretive point. I only wish I came away with a clearer sense of what that vision was."

Vadim Repin performed the Tchaikovsky with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio in London

  • The Guardian: "Overall, it felt as if this interpretation had seen better days, even if the spirit of the piece came across - the languid melancholy of the slow movement, for instance, or the open-air ebullience of the finale."

Vilde Frang performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Chicago

  • Chicago Classical Review: "Frang possesses an assured technique and her playing was faultless, intonation focused and style impeccable. Her 1709 Engleman Stradivarius has a slender sweetness and sinew well suited to Prokofiev's acerbic concerto. But from an interpretive standpoint, her performance was almost unrelievedly bland and boring."
  • Chicago Tribune: "Here Temirkanov's collaborator in the Prokofiev was Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang, who began in rumination and tightened as the score demanded without coarsening her smooth silvery tone."

Richard Tognetti performed the Vivaldi with the Academy of Ancient Music

  • The Guardian: "Tognetti's name sits comfortably alongside the likes of Torelli, Veracini and Vivaldi, whose influence was core to the Dresden aesthetic and, in terms of technique, he is up there in the highest league."

Michael Barenboim performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Australia

  • The Guardian: "Michael Barenboim, 27-year-old son of Daniel and concertmaster of the groundbreaking West-Eastern Divan Orchestra,. was the soloist on Mozart's Violin Concerto No 4, which combined technical precision and a breezy sweetness to exhilarating effect, with Barenboim playing the hire-wire act with two vertiginous solos."
  • The West Australian: "The most appealing feature of Barenboim's performance was a consistently fine, silvery tone that caressed the ear - and the cadenzas could not be faulted."

Christian Tetzlaff performed the Brahms with the Philharmonia Orchestra

  • South Wales Argus: "One rarely hears the Academic Festival Overture performed with such a sense of something worth being rolled out in the interests of revealing its constituent merits. Plodding or rushed it was not. The same with the Violin Concerto, its solo line played with unerring sympathy and a consistently singing tone by Christian Tetzlaff, another who is one of the best around. Neither soloist nor conductor compromised on the music's emotions or its logical structure."

Chloe Hanslip performed Corigliano's The Red Violin with the Auckland Philharmonia

  • Stuff Nation: "Her technique was rock solid throughout all four movements of the concerto and the multitude of technical challenges required in this piece were well and truly met. The emotional journey of the violin and the characters in the story were also told with sympathy and skill. It was a memorable performance and proved to be an excellent choice for this concert."
  • New Zealand Herald: "Soloist Chloe Hanslip's poised entry, almost improvisando, against a wash of strings, soon gave way to fiery tussles with some belligerent orchestral writing."

Ray Chen performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Sarasota Orchestra

  • Herald-Tribune: "Chen... dug into the youthful Mozart's music with more emotional flamboyance than what we might expect."

Finally, a reminder that our editor, Laurie, is in Austin, Texas this week for the 2014 Menuhin Competition and will be posting reviews and interviews all week! So keep checking Violinist.com, on the website front page, on Twitter and on Facebook, for updates from the competition.

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 19: Jennifer Frautschi, Julia Fischer, and Vanessa Mae and Charlie White at the Olympics

February 18, 2014 09:27

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Jennifer Frautschi performed Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

  • St. Paul Pioneer Press: "She and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra -- under the intensely taut direction of English conductor Paul McCreesh -- gave an electrifying performance of Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto, one that skillfully captured the contradictions roiling within the composer during the mid-1930s."

Jennifer Frautschi

Julia Fischer performed Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in New York

  • The New York Times: "Julia Fischer... compelled the attention of listeners — and the orchestra musicians, to judge from their applause — through her sheer musicality."
  • New York Classical Review: "There is no question that Fischer is a capable violinist—she plays with effortless technique, poise, and refinement."

Jonathan Carney performed Saint-Saens' Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

  • The Baltimore Sun: "The BSO's concertmaster, Jonathan Carney, seemed in his element with this concerto. He produced a steady, gleaming tone; tackled the trickiest technical challenges confidently; and, above all, phrased the score's most lyrical passages with an elegant touch."

Barnabás Kelemen performed the Wigglesworth with Wigglesworth conducting the Hallé Orchestra

  • Financial Times: "When Wigglesworth does give the violin a profile, as in its quiet, far-too-fleeting dialogues with double-bass and horn, it turns out to be a snatch of music, almost apologetic."
  • The Telegraph: "Barnabás Kelemen was a superb advocate for the work, relishing its moments of hyper-agility as well as its prevailing heady lyricism. Wigglesworth himself coaxed a flexible and colourful accompaniment from an in-form Hallé."
  • Manchester Evening News: "Personally I found (the violin concerto's) clarity of orchestral writing, traditional techniques of ground bass and counterpoint, and the final tonal security, the most immediately accessible aspects of it, and the lyricism harder to appreciate."

Itzhak Perlman performed the Mendelssohn with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

  • Charlotte Observer: "Where most players revel in the rapid runs of the first movement, Perlman spun threads of sound that gathered you in. He didn’t linger sentimentally over the second movement, yet it was tender. The third movement was joyful, rather than sprightly."

Fabio Biondi led the Europa Galante in an all-Vivaldi concert

  • The New York Times: "Mr. Biondi’s violin solos abound with embellishments and sudden changes of tempo that give them an improvised feel but can sometimes come across as somewhat precious. But there was a very Baroque flavor to the bracing changes and sudden surprises that echoed Vivaldi’s seasons, where hail showers interrupt the torpor of a hot afternoon, and the merriment of harvest revelers contrasts with the terror of the hunted prey."

Sayaka Shoji performed Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Maryland

Simone Lamsma performed the Sibelius with the San Francisco Symphony

  • San Francisco Chronicle: Her "performance in Sibelius' Violin Concerto was marked by careless technique, leathery tone and recurrent intonation problems."
  • San Jose Mercury News: (Van Zweden) "introduced an impressive Dutch virtuoso to the San Francisco audience: Simone Lamsma, whose whispered entrance swiftly gave way to densely rich low notes and vista-sweeping Finnish melody."
  • Examiner.com: "One got the impression that they had collaborated closely on the interpretation of Sibelius’ concerto, and the result was nothing less than stunning."

Congratulations to Vanessa Mae who completed both runs of the Women's Giant Slalom, competing for Thailand at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (She is listed as Vanessa Vanakorn.) Music was well represented in the event, as the gold medal went to Tina Maze, who's found a second career as a pop singer in her home country, Slovenia.

But Vanessa Mae's run wasn't the only violin moment in Sochi today. US gold medalist in Ice Dancing, Charlie White, performed the beginning of the first movement of the Vivaldi concerto in a minor (Suzuki Book 4) on the Today show this morning. Congratulations to Charlie, too!

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 18: Anthony Marwood debuts Samuel Adams' Violin Concerto, plus the return of the 'Lipinski' Strad

February 11, 2014 15:50

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Samuel Adams Anthony Marwood
Samuel Adams, left, and Anthony Marwood

Anthony Marwood debuted Samuel Adams' new Violin Concerto with the Berkeley Symphony

  • San Jose Mercury News: "Attending its world premiere Thursday at Zellerbach Hall was like riding on a sound cloud: There, high above, was the solo violinist, spinning long lyric lines that twist and fan out like kite ribbons; and there, way down below, was the orchestra, a landscape of gentle surges and eddies and strategic colorized plumes, drifting up toward the kite."
  • San Francisco Chronicle: "Adams' concerto, commissioned by the orchestra, bristles with so much inventive and surprising material that you can immerse yourself in it happily without knowing where you are in the process."
  • San Francisco Classical Voice: "As realized by Music Director Joana Carneiro and soloist Anthony Marwood, the work challenges traditional concerto expectations and reveals a creator with a decidedly original voice."

Nikolaj Znaider performed and conducted Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Cleveland Symphony

  • The Plain Dealer: "...in his local debut on the podium Thursday, Znaider proved surprisingly adept, if not equal to Boulez, at handling an orchestra," and, "Mozart as Znaider played it was impossible not to enjoy."

Anne-Sophie Mutter performed the Dvořák with the London Symphony Orchestra

  • The Guardian: "Mutter (who was stuck in traffic) made it to the Barbican in time to play the Dvořák Concerto in the second half with exceptional expressive grace and sweetness of tone."
  • Financial Times: "Mutter, as always, found marvels of expression in the concerto. Can the slow movement ever have been played with a tone so tender and withdrawn, as though revealing some long-lost romantic secret? Mutter remains a truly first-class draw."

Gidon Kremer performed with the Weinberg Concertino Kremerata Baltica in Chicago

  • Chicago Tribune: "Kremer seized the spotlight once more for Shostakovich's 1968 Violin Sonata, performed here in an arrangement for string orchestra and percussion by Mikhail Zinman and Andrei Pushkarev that effectively turns this late work, written for David Oistrakh, into a third Shostakovich violin concerto....I'm not certain that this reworking, well made though it is, is true to the composer's musical intentions in this despairing late work."

Frank Almond performed a recital with pianist William Wolfram at Milwaukee's Wilson Center for the Arts. It was his first concert reunited with the 'Lipinski' Strad, which had been stolen from him Jan. 27 and recovered last week.

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Frank played "a program of pieces that are tied to the violin's 300-year history, including the 'Devil's Trill,' by Giuseppe Tartini, the first owner of the violin, and the 'Caprice for violin solo, Op. 29 No. 3' by Karol Lipinski, for whom the violin is named."

Stefan Jackiw performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

  • NUVO: Mozart 5's "serenely moving Adagio...showed Jackiw at his best, delivering a well-controlled singing tone."

Alexander Kerr performed the Barber with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra

  • The Post and Courier: "Kerr plays on a 1715 Stradivarius with a sound at once sweet and robust. He has a gorgeous tone and an admirable tendency to express phrases fully, with long bow strokes and an appealing, moderate vibrato."
  • Charleston City Paper: "Ah, the fabulous, frantic finale that skittered madly in seemingly perpetual motion through its brief course – and jolted the good-sized Sottile crowd to their feet in a clamorous standing O when it was over. The finale's orchestral parts were just about as virtuosic as the soloist's, and the musicians pulled it off with nary a hitch."

Giovanni Guzzo performed and conducted Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Manchester Camerata

  • Mancunian Matters: "(Guzzo) expertly led the orchestra through the finely balanced Allegro, his charisma shining through as they played the piece's rapturous Adagio before romping through to the playful Turkish-style final movement."

David Greed performed the Bruch with the York Guildhall Orchestra

  • The Press: "Soloist David Greed, who was the inaugural leader with Orchestra of Opera North, brought contemplative gravitas to the Prelude and Adagio."

Pekka Kuusisto performed the Adès with the Philharmonia Orchestra

  • The Telegraph: "The soloist was Pekka Kuusisto, the elfin Finnish violinist who surely has the most personal sound of any classical violinist now alive."

Lu Siqing performed the Mendelssohn with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: "Violinist Lu Siqing's performance of the Mendelssohn Concerto enthralled the audience with his technical facility notwithstanding its emotional reserve."

1 reply

The Week in Reviews, Op. 17: Janine Jansen, Philippe Quint, Joshua Bell in concert

February 4, 2014 14:06

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week Violinist.com brings you links to reviews of notable violin performances from around the world. We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us what you think about these reviews!

Hilary Hahn performed the Nielsen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

  • Violinist.com: "It was musically challenging, presented with fire and precision, by an intelligent and thoughtful artist."
  • Los Angeles Times: "Hahn now has embraced the concerto and made it her own, which is to say that she plays fast and furious and with exceptional fluidity. She wraps the concerto's tunes, and they are winners, in her gorgeous tone. She doesn't bother with Nielsen's Danish insecurity."

Janine Jansen
Janine Jansen

Janine Jansen performed the Brahms with the London Symphony Orchestra

  • Music OMH: "Soloist Janine Jansen brought a sense of involvement and depth of emotion to the piece that proved thrilling to witness."
  • The Arts Desk: "Speaking of blazing, Janine Jansen plunged so dramatically into the attack following the huge orchestral introduction of Brahms' Violin Concerto that she forced a lapse in tuning that was as startling as it was uncharacteristic. It mattered not a jot in the context of that explosive first entry and it demonstrated the risks she would be taking to bring this wonderful concerto off the page and maximise its theatrical extremes."
  • London Evening Standard: "Delivering her solo part with a kind of inward-looking freedom, she gave the impression that, while the notes were under her fingers and in her muscles, she was still thinking as she played."

Gil Shaham performed the Korngold with the Houston Symphony Orchestra

  • ConcertoNet: "The violinist exuded sheer pleasure in the wonderful music he was making, shuffling, smiling and endlessly communicating with the musicians of the orchestra, who responded with the richest foundation for Shaham to fiddle above."

Midori performed Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

  • Kalamazoo Gazette: "Midori's intelligence opened new avenues to Shostakovich's genius."

Maxim Vengerov performed the Britten with the London Symphony Orchestra

  • The Telegraph: "He was a marvel, brilliantly light-fingered, and with a tremulously intense tone that made the work's subterranean affinities to Prokofiev and Shostakovich stand out with amazing clarity."

Philippe Quint performed Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Democrat & Chronicle: "Exhibiting a quiet charisma and fluid phrasing, Quint was intuitive without being sentimental, demonstrative without being egotistical."

Pinchas Zukerman performed the Beethoven with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

  • The Daily Californian: "While the orchestra constructed a rich and beautiful setting, Zukerman's violin felt like a technicolor brush on blank canvas at times."

Sarah Chang performed the Bruch with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic

  • The Oklahoman: "It was a performance that didn't fully showcase her prodigious talents."

Joshua Bell performed the Mendelssohn with the National Symphony Orchestra

  • The Baltimore Sun: "By this point in his career, Bell must have played the Mendelssohn concert three billion times, but you'd never know it."
  • The Washington Post: "Bell — as has so often been the case in my experience — made lovely sounds but played sloppily, with cute, little ornamental fillips offsetting smeared runs and intonation that always seemed to approach the note slightly from below and not always to get all the way up to the center of the pitch. The audience, however, did not appear to share my reservations, and leapt to its feet when the soloist was done."

Anne-Sophie Mutter performed Mozart violin concertos Nos. 2, 3 and 5 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

  • The Australian: "Mutter believes Mozart's fifth violin concerto is his crowning achievement in the form. Her bold, spirited performance certainly made it sound like that."
  • Jewish Australian News Service: "An audience bonus was viewing a continually changing front, side and back view of a woman as beautiful as the music she brings forth."

Jennifer Frautschi performed the Mendelssohn with the Alabama Symphony

  • The Birmingham News: "Except for a few stray squeaks and squawks, this was an impressive technical display, highlighted by an expressive first movement cadenza."

William Hagen performed Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3, with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

  • Dallas Morning News: "He tossed off the most virtuosic passages of the Saint-Saëns with amazing precision, but he also made music — not mere whizzings of notes."
  • TheaterJones: "Hagen tossed it off with the same sheer joy of making music that caused everyone to sit up and take notice in 2012."

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More entries: January 2014

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