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The Week in Reviews, Op. 21: Clara-Jumi Kang, Arabella Steinbacher, and Menuhin winners Stephen Waarts and Rennosuke Fukuda in concert

Robert Niles

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Published: March 4, 2014 at 8:00 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!

Arabella Steinbacher performed on the same program with Menuhin Competition winners Stephen Waarts and Rennosuke Fukuda and the Cleveland Orchestra in Austin

  • "Cleveland's magnificent sound reminded me of the power of hearing music unfold live."
  • The Plain Dealer: "Dutch-American Stephen Waarts, the 17-year-old senior winner, strode meekly on stage and proceeded to deliver a blazing and supremely assured performance of the Allegro Moderato from Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 2…No less impressive was the junior winner, 14-year-old Rennosuke Fukuda, of Japan…(who) offered an account of Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro remarkable for its depth of feeling and technical agility. Barely a teenager, Fukuda played like a sophisticated, experienced adult. Violinist Arabella Steinbacher is no novice, either, as her ferocious performance of Ravel’s “Tzigane” made abundantly clear. "
  • La Scena Musicale: "The very well-organized Menuhin Competition Austin 2014 slacked off a little in this final event; neither prize winner was listed in the program insert nor was either introduced from the stage…." and, "…if any orchestra in the world has a finer string section than the Cleveland Orchestra, I haven’t heard it; much of the credit for that reality must go to Mr. Preucil. This man has a legendary reputation for attending to detail and we heard it in the unanimity of attack, the minute care taken over dynamics and phrasing and the total commitment of each man and woman in the string section. Watching Mr. Preucil is, in and of itself, worth the price of admission."

Clara-Jumi Kang

Clara-Jumi Kang performed the Mendelssohn with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra

  • Bangkok Post: "Kang possesses a truly authoritative command of technique, coupled with a highly sensitive musical sensibility, and these two facets combine happily in her reading of the Mendelssohn — mellifluous in the slower cantabile passages but exuberant and often fiery in the bravura sections."

Zach de Pue performed the Szymanowski Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

  • NUVO: "The best audience response came from the program's middle work, Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1 (1916), with ISO concertmaster Zach de Pue as soloist…de Pue contributed his usual masterful technique and well controlled tone."

Tai Murray performed the Panufnik with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Liverpool Echo: "the last- minute substitution of American-born former BBC Young Generation artist Tai Murray (standing in for Vadim Repin) missed none of the subtlety required for the concerto's earlier gently undulating, mainly high-pitched 'singing' motifs

Christian Tetzlaff performed the Widmann with the National Symphony Orchestra

  • Washington Post: "This time, (composer Jörg Widmann) was present only in spirit, but the violin concerto he wrote for Christian Tetzlaff was a fine ambassador. It’s a knockout, and it fits the brilliant Tetzlaff like a glove."
  • Joshua Bell performed Symphonie Espagnole with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

    Patricia Kopatchinskaja performed works by Bartok, Janacek, Brahms, and Mendelssohn with the Britten Sinfonia

    • The Telegraph: "She’s like an ingenue who’s wandered into classical music from folk music (she comes from a family of folk musicians), and hasn’t bothered to learn classical music’s protocols. Her black outfit was interestingly off-set by spangly slippers, which at times she discarded in favour of bare feet. In fast excitable passages she hammered away like a thing possessed, in sad passages she became as pliant as a reed, as if her whole body were producing the sound. Sometimes she got so excited she actually jumped from the platform."

    Vilde Frang performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in Las Vegas and San Diego

    • Las Vegas Reviews-Journal: "Frang gave it a more than competent reading, but it stopped a bit short of being inspiring.
    • The Union-Tribune: "Frang, an immensely talented young Norwegian violinist, has the all-too-rare combination of beauty of tone and incisiveness. Her approach to the concerto was clear, convincing and communicative."

    Audrey Wright and Foster Wang performed Vivaldi Violin Concerti with the New World Symphony

    • South Florida Classical Review: "Audrey Wright’s scintillating, non-vibrato sound captured the elegant airiness of baroque violin, with three echoing violin soloists out of sight above the audience." And, "Foster Wang’s performance of Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in C had less finesse but more fire, alternating flashy solos with orchestras center stage and above to the right."

    Eugene Urgorski performed the Tchaikovsky with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

    • The Calgary Herald: "Urgorski is certainly a brilliant player, with a full, carrying sound, and the ability to handle the concerto's considerable difficulties with apparent ease."

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