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

Robert Niles

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Published: May 27, 2014 at 3:55 PM [UTC]

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!

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