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The Week in Reviews, Op. 34: Midori, Simone Lamsma, Isabelle Faust in concert

Robert Niles

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Published: June 10, 2014 at 7:21 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.

Midori performed Eotvos’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the New York Philharmonic

  • The New York Times: "The violin writing is episodic, all fits and starts, with perpetual-motion passages and bittersweet melodic flights, though nothing dwells too long in this restless concerto. Midori played with plush tone, myriad colorings and command."

Simone Lamsma
Photo courtesy the artist

Simone Lamsma performed the Britten with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

  • Chicago Tribune: "Lamsma, who was making her CSO debut, seized on the work's angular rhythmic drive as commandingly as she did its lyrical intensity. Her tone remained piercingly beautiful even as she tore through the virtuosic gymnastics of the spiky central Vivace. But it was in the troubled Passacaglia finale where her deep feeling for the anxieties that lie beyond the notes sealed her success."
  • Chicago Classical Review: "Making her CSO debut, the Dutch violinist—wearing her national color in a form-fitting orange dress—was a largely worthy advocate though her playing was less technically airtight than what local audiences expect from guest artists with the CSO."

Leila Josefowicz performed the Stravinsky with the National Arts Centre Orchestra

  • Ottawa Citizen: "Josefowicz’s sound is clear and supple and her technique is exact, serving every twist, turn and nuance in the score with something close to perfection."

Nigel Kennedy performed the Beethoven with the Oxford Philomusica (and then hit a local jazz club to perform some Jimmy Hendrix)

  • Oxford Mail: "World-famous violinist Nigel Kennedy wowed audiences in a special city concert then popped round the corner to play an impromptu gig at a jazz club."

Joshua Bell performed the Sibelius with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

  • NUVO: "Throughout the concerto Bell delivered a dominantly rich violin sound, never overshadowed by the orchestra and handling all of Sibelius's most difficult figurations with seeming effortlessness."

Isabelle Faust performed the Berg with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

  • The Guardian: "(Faust) gave a rapt and intensely moving account of this most devastating and poignant of all 20th-century concertos,…enormously enhanced by the sympathetic and unobtrusive control (conductor Bernard) Haitink also brought to the translucent and wrenching orchestral music."
  • "Faust’s stormy welter of notes at the start of the Allegro were wildly spontaneous, and orchestra’s jagged syncopations dragged on her with sinister force. Her sheer range was remarkable, from hoarse barking to the golden shimmer of her lyrical playing."

Noah Bendix-Balgley performed Beethoven's Romances for Violin and Orchestra with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "This concert provided another welcome opportunity to hear him as a soloist before he departs to become first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic next season."
  • Haik Kazazyan performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Riverside Symphony

    • The New York Times: "Playing with a burnished tone, Mr. Kazazyan gave an assured performance that revealed the music’s contemplative lyricism, particularly in the lovely second movement."

    Laurence Jackson performed Mozart's G major Violin Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

    • Birmingham Post: "His reading was urbane but never limp-wristed, his endearing diffidence of manner put spotlight on his perfection of tone and intonation, and the relaxed ease of his bowing."

    Yang Tianwa performed the Korngold with the Hong Kong Philharmonic

    • South China Morning Post: "Yang Tianwa was dazzling in Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto in D. She played with heartfelt expression, perfect control and a rich, commanding sound."

    Joan Plana, Janelle Davis, Brandi Berry, and Jeri Lou Zike performed Valentini's Four-Violin Concerto, and Emily Dahl joined Plana for Vivaldi's Two-Violin Concerto, with Baroque Band

    • Chicago Tribune: "All the pieces, Plana said, were personal favorites, which zesty, infectiousness direction underlined. All the pieces additionally gave him prominence as violin soloist, making demands that caused intonation problems evident enough when submerged but glaring when exposed and lengthening as the evening wore on."

    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!

    Posted on June 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM
    To say the critics' critiques were colorful would be an understatement. As I read them, I envisioned myself not sitting in the general audience but as if I were enjoying the performance on a chair ON STAGE as a VERY special invited guest. I could see the violinists perfect control of their flexing forearms, writhing wrists, and famished fingers as well as the emotive energy (specific to each piece) on the faces of these profoundly prodigal violin players.

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