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

Robert Niles

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Published: February 18, 2014 at 4:27 PM [UTC]

In an effort to promote the coverage of classical music, each week 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."
  • "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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