May 2014

The Week in Reviews, Op. 32: Nicola Benedetti and Ray Chen in concert. Plus, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Apple commercial

May 27, 2014 08:55

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

Nicola Benedetti performed Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic. (This was her New York Philharmonic debut, as a last-minute sub for Janine Jansen, who was ill)

  • The New York Times: "The work juxtaposes nervous, fragmented passages with generously measured singing phrases, and both Ms. Benedetti and Mr. Jurowski proved adept at molding them with dramatic intent. Ms. Benedetti’s sound in the stratosphere of her register is almost improbably pure and gleaming; at times it resembled the supernatural song of a theremin."
  • New York Classical Review: "She snuck into the opening with a taut, cutting tone that suited the piece’s ethereal quality, and while that stark character was her baseline, her variety of sound, from bare to gristly (often changed on a dime), was impressive and used to great effect."

Nicola Benedetti
Photo: Kevin Westenberg

Ray Chen performed the Tchaikovsky with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

  • The Baltimore Sun: "Chen showed just as persuasively that he can be edgy, volatile, even a little rough, too. His account of the Tchaikovsky concerto was a grabber from the start, partly because of the sheer tonal intensity. Where other fiddlers apply sweetness, this one kept things spicy."

Augustin Hadelich performed the Ades with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

  • The Scotsman: "The musical shapes in this beguiling work, which Ades compares to a triptych, demanded every ounce of soloist Augustin Hadelich’s formidable technique"

Rachel Barton Pine performed the Barber with the Lake Forest Symphony

  • Barrington Courier-Review: "The Barber is an exquisite concerto, with a quixotic recurring melody in the first movement. She spun it out for us with passion, broke our hearts during the glowing Andante and dazzled us with virtuosity in the fierce finale."

* * *

Not a review, but of interest: Alex Ross writes about Apple's newest celebrity endorser: Esa-Pekka Salonen, who is shown, in a new commercial, writing his Violin Concerto with the help of an iPad. You can get a free download of his violin concerto, played by going to this page.

  • The New Yorker: "The concerto dictates the rhythm of the editing, and the correlation between notation and sound is made excitingly clear."

We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended. Or just tell us in the comments what you think about these reviews!

Archive link

The Week in Reviews, Op. 32: Christian Tetzlaff, Erin Keefe, Lindsey Stirling in concert

May 20, 2014 12:33

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

Christian Tetzlaff performed the Bartok with the San Francisco Symphony

  • San Francisco Chronicle: "This was a virtuoso display of technical bravura and emotional eloquence, all wrapped into one beautifully integrated package."
  • San Jose Mercury News: "His performance Wednesday was a jaw-dropper."
  • "Béla Bartók’s second violin concerto, was anything but conventional; and the interpretation of the solo part by Christian Tetzlaff could not have been more up to the task."
  • San Francisco Classical Voice: "From moments of tender lyricism and spooky sound sculpturing to the far-more-common strident militancies, orchestral outbursts, and thrilling virtuoso expostulations, the Tetzlaff-Tilson-Thomas axis held the Davies Symphony Hall patrons in thrall."

Lindsey Sterling
Photo via the artist's Facebook page.

Lindsey Stirling performed in concert in Anaheim, Calif.

  • Orange County Register: "Not only did Stirling bow away with flawless precision, whether on a classical model or a modern electric version, she also moved like Jagger and sometimes joined two dancers in choreographed routines while fluidly continuing to play."

Adé Williams performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Independent Online Tonight: "Her technical abilities are obvious, and in her youthful way she captured the joyous spirit of this lovely work."

Anna Lee performed the Glazunov with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Chicago Classical Review: "The Korean-born violinist was most impressive in the lyrical moments, playing with a rich, singing line and tonal sweetness ideal for Glazunov’s melodies."

Benjamin Beilman performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

  • NUVO: "With an occasional slip here, a squeak there, and an off-pitch at another place, Beilman nonetheless captured the essence of the work's solo parts with a well controlled tone and the chops to manage the difficult figurations."

Erin Keefe performed the Mendelssohn with the Minnesota Orchestra

  • Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "The emotional temperature was cooler and less expansive, leaning more on Mendelssohn’s classical roots than his yearnings toward Romanticism."
  • The Pioneer Press: "Keefe's take on the concerto was as sweet and strong as a powerful liqueur, aggressive in the early going, fiery in the finale, but at its best in a velvet-draped middle movement, her clear, sonorous lines the conduit for a palpable yearning."

Leila Josefowicz performed the Adams with the National Symphony Orchestra... and Jessica Lang Dance

  • Washington Post: "When (the dancers) reappeared quietly on the stage below, they stood rapt, as we all were, by the violinist’s vigor."

Joshua Bell performed the Sibelius with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

  • Los Angeles Times: "The violinist's was a physical performance, exceptional technically, but none of the added emphasis added depth."
  • "As Bell entered over the hushed static of the orchestra -- his 1713 Gibson Strad so clear, so pure -- the talking ceased, audience fully arrested by the music. How does Joshua Bell do that?"

Gil Shaham performed the Berg with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

  • The New York Times: "Mr. Shaham played the technically daunting violin part of this two-movement concerto with command, clarity and melting sound."
  • New York Classical Review: "Shaham (dove) into the lines of his solo part with a warm tone and full vibrato that one might expect in a nineteenth-century concerto."
  • ConcertNet: "Listening to Mr. Shaham, one knows that feeling needs no age or era."

We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us in the comments what you think about these reviews!

7 replies

The Week in Reviews, Op. 31: Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Karen Gomyo in concert

May 13, 2014 09:59

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

Joshua Bell performed "Tzigane" and the Sibelius with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and a chorus of cell phones (really)

  • The Star-Ledger: "After the hushed, undulating tremolo that opened the Sibelius on an otherworldly note, Bell began a performance that deftly balanced rhapsodic lyricism and steely resolve. The piece's structural integrity and the soloists' intention remained sure throughout, including in a skillfully wrought cadenza."

Joshua Bell
Photo by Eric Kabik, courtesy the artist

Gil Shaham performed the new Bright Sheng Violin Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

  • The Guardian: "Shaham played it eloquently, and was clearly loving every minute."
  • Seen and Heard International: "Shaham’s tone was astonishingly rich and he projected without force through the full orchestra; but, after a while melodic and rhythmic motifs, and phrases structures felt somewhat repetitive."

(Gil Shaham spoke to us last October about this new concerto, here is that interview.)

Benjamin Beilman performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for the American premiere of Zhou Long’s “Tales From the Nine Bells”

  • The New York Times: "...the surprise highlight of the evening came when Mr. Beilman and Mr. Thedeen paired up for a superlative performance of Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello. Here was that elusive unknown unknown: a work that at first glance appeared to be no more than an academic exercise in folk-music transcription yet turned into a riveting drama."

Benjamin Beilman also performed the Mendelssohn with the Chicago Philharmonic

  • Chicago Classical Review: "His playing is confident and his technique assured, but his phrasing and his dynamics had little variance until he reached the development, when he cut back his vibrato and sound. Greater musical expressivity revealed itself in the Andante….The finale, too, had extraordinary interplay between Beilman and the winds and a generally lighter approach more appropriate to the music."

Karen Gomyo performed the Mendelssohn with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Ottawa Citizen: "Under Gomyo’s magical fingers, the concerto was a joy from start to finish. The opening was especially fine, the febrile sensibility of Mendelssohn’s emotional world beautifully understood and projected through tone and musical shape. Gomyo also showed a full mastery of the virtuoso element, the rapid passages performed cleanly and with spot-on tuning."

Michael Ludwig performed the Mendelssohn with the Omaha Symphony

  • Omaha World-Herald: "He fronted Felix Mendelssohn's popular Violin Concerto in E Minor with an impassioned crispness that infected the ensemble and inspired extended cheers from a modestly-sized but appreciative audience."

Paul Huang performed the Barber at the 53rd Young Concert Artists Gala Concert in New York

  • The New York Times: "His warm, glowing sound and youthful energy were perfect for the opening movement of this justly popular work, in which a soaring melodic line flows atop the harmonically charged, restless orchestra. Yet, Mr. Huang was also alert to surprising melodic shifts and rhythmic twists in the violin part."

Kenneth Johnston performed the Beethoven with the BlueWater Chamber Orchestra

  • The Plain Dealer: "The highlight by far was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Concertmaster Kenneth Johnston treated the audience to a suave, magisterial reading suitable to a stage and musical forces several times larger than those at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights."

Christian Tetzlaff performed the Bach Chaconne in recital in San Francisco

  • The San Francisco Chronicle: " was fitting that the Chaconne marked the magnificent high point of Sunday's solo recital by violinist Christian Tetzlaff. In a performance that gathered together all of the various strengths that had been on display all evening - and skirted the occasional weak points as well - Tetzlaff offered a tour through this one musical utterance that was almost stunning in its eloquence and scope."

Leonidas Kavakos performed the Berg with the New York Philharmonic

  • The New York Times: "...Mr. Haitink’s tempos were strangely inert, the drama missing. The noted violinist Leonidas Kavakos was a clear yet faceless soloist, and the orchestra’s playing, too, lacked vividness: a black-and-white textbook reproduction of an Expressionist painting."

Jennifer Frautschi performed the Beethoven with the San Luis Obispo Symphony

  • New Times: "Frautschi danced as she played the heroic solo parts and cadenzas as though the spirit of the composer were in a state of becoming, and she was wrestling it into presence. Cadenzas became essays in the violin as a medium for the giant sound-world Beethoven carried in his head."

Simone Lamsma performed Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

  • Birmingham Post: "Simone Lamsma was soloist (we don't need to be told she's "glamorous", as a London broadsheet once trilled), and brought an impassioned outpouring of line and texture to the music, Orozcoada and the orchestra collaborating with measured sonority. This was a committed reading of a perhaps over-rated work. Lamsma's Bach encore was calming balm in a disturbing evening."

Benjamin Schmid performed Mozart's G major Violin Concerto with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

  • The New Zealand Herald: "Mozart's G major Violin Concerto was the delight we expected. McCreesh set a level of freshness and bonhomie in the orchestral introduction that never departed. Working with German soloist Benjamin Schmid there was always a sense of camaraderie and adventure."

We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us in the comments what you think about these reviews!

5 replies

The Week in Reviews, Op. 30: Veronika Eberle, Lisa Batiashvili, Ilya Gringolts in concert

May 6, 2014 10:42

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

Veronika Eberle performed the Beethoven with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

  • Pioneer Press: "What she offered at Stillwater's Trinity Lutheran Church Thursday night was among the most exciting, pulse-pounding, confidently rendered interpretations of the Beethoven Violin Concerto that I've encountered in decades of concerts."

Veronika Eberle
Photo by Jan Northoff, courtesy the artist

Lisa Batiashvili performed the Bartok with the Philadelphia Orchestra, in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall

  • Phildelphia Inquirer: "Nézet-Séguin connected with the piece more than guest soloist Lisa Batiashvili, a superb world-class violinist who played with wonderful lyrical sweetness while the conductor found certain momentousness in the most unimposing oboe entrance."
  • New York Times: " Ms. Batiashvili played (the opening movement) with glowing sound and somber beauty. The vigorous, feisty second movement is like a cross between a symphonic scherzo and an Eastern European dance. Ms. Batiashvili gave a crisp, brilliant and effortless performance."
  • New York Classical Review: "As she so often has, Batiashvili demonstrated that she has a wild virtuosic spirit, raging through her flawless technique without ever endangering it."

Vilde Frang performed the Britten with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

  • Herald Scotland: "From the day and hour that I first heard Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang, when she looked about 12, though must have been a bit older, I thought there was greatness in her."
  • The Scotsman: "Her approach exuded just the right balance of dreamy lyricism and gut-wrenching emotion and she wore the virtuosity demanded extremely lightly."

Hilary Hahn performed in recital with pianist Cory Smythe, in Seattle

  • Seattle Times: "Regardless of what she plays, Hahn is an utterly convincing interpreter who makes the music sound natural and unforced — even easy, when it’s decidedly not easy at all."

Renaud Capucon performed the Dusapin with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

  • The Telegraph: "The soloist was Renaud Capucon, who proved once again that in terms of thrilling depth of tone his equal is hard to find among violinists today."

Augustin Hadelich performed the Mendelssohn with Symphony in C

  • Phildelphia Inquirer: "His playing energized every note in the line, balanced the sound with the orchestral sections and seemed to let Mendelssohn speak for himself."

Ilya Gringolts performed the Bruch with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

  • The Straits Times: "Taking a measured, introspective approach that inevitably sacrificed a degree of warmth, he offered a fresh reading of a well played romantic concerto. Less predictable than other performances, his playing was always true to Bruch's writing - thoughtful and captivating."

Ray Chen performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Liverpool Echo: "An elegant musical pugilist, Chen radiates energy without distracting flamboyant flourishes, knees slightly bent as he leans through the music, and delivering a wonderfully sonorous tone on his 1702 Stradivarius."

Alexander Balanescu performed the Nyman with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

  • The Guardian: "As in 2003's violin concerto, played here by Alexander Balanescu, there's a sense that the composer's conceptual ambitions override his musical sense."
  • Morning Star: "With Alexander Balanescu as lead in Violin Concerto No 1, gentle harmonics are abandoned for the sake of exploring severe abstraction, jagged musical forms and distinctly abrasive structures of time."

Samuel Milner performed the Bruch with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra

  • The StarPhoenix: "Music is more than just notes on a page and Milner made his instrument truly sing. When he raced up and down scales, he took the audience with him; when he held a single, beautiful note, you caught yourself holding your breath."

We'd love to hear about any recent concerts and recitals you've attended, too. Or just tell us in the comments what you think about these reviews!

5 replies

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