August 2014

The Week in Reviews, Op. 45: Augustin Hadelich, Joshua Bell, Patricia Kopatchinskaja in concert

August 26, 2014 10:10

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.

Augustin Hadelich
Photo: Lee Salem

Augustin Hadelich performed the Dvorák with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

  • The Dallas Morning News: "With more tonal projection this time, Hadelich set lyrical music soaring sweetly, but he tossed off the fleet finale with apparently effortless élan. Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra collaborated savvily. For an encore, as on Friday, Hadelich whizzed and skittered through Paganini’s Fifth Caprice with jaw-dropping brilliance."
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram: " Hadelich played it with a warm and accurate tone and a mastery of technique that was thrilling....Hadelich brought down the house, as he had Friday night, with an encore: Paganini’s Caprice No. 5, in a stupendous performance."

Joshua Bell performed Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

  • The New York Times: "Wednesday’s concert was a reminder of (Bell's) irresistible talents: his unforced, easy playing and his choices of speed and volume, which are dramatic without feeling exaggerated or indulgent. Spinning out a golden wire of sound, he was answered by the coppery light char of Lawrence Power’s viola. If, in the final movement, it sometimes felt as if the two soloists were pressing a bit faster than the orchestra’s tempo, that added a feeling of urgency more than of uncertainty."

Patricia Kopatchinskaja performed the Martin with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

  • The New York Times: "The somber (Mozart) Requiem was preceded by more religious exploration: Frank Martin’s elegantly angular violin concerto, 'Polyptyque: Six Images of the Passion of Christ' (1973), with Patricia Kopatchinskaja a fiery soloist, unafraid of sounding raw and scorching. Its movements were divided by five shining chorales from Bach’s 'St. John Passion.' While this made for an illuminating conversation across two centuries — 'Polyptyque' restless and impassioned, the 'St. John Passion' heartbreakingly serene — even very good music can start seeming pallid this close to the best of Bach."

Itzhak Perlman performed Bach's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Philadelphia Orchestra

  • Albany Times-Union: "The quality and character of Perlman's playing was somewhat inconsistent and took a while to find its mark, as has been the case with a number of his other local appearances. By the time the third and final movement reached a vigorous allegro, Perlman had also rallied."

Nicola Benedetti performed the Korngold with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Herald Scotland: "Opportunities to hear Benedetti playing big pieces in such company can seem scarce, but this was not only the sort of expressive repertoire at which she excels, but also the piece she took into the pop chart, never mind the top of the classical one, at the heart of her Silver Violin album."

James Ehnes performed the Tchaikovsky with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

  • National Post: "This acclaimed Canadian can make the relentless passagework of the first movement sound like music-making rather than bushwhacking. His way with the Canzonetta was sombre; the finale unfolded with engaging changes of tempo rather than as a mindless charge to the finish."

In other news, authorities have arrested two men in connection with the brutal murder last week of New York violinist Mary Whitaker, 61, who played with the Westchester Philharmonic and in the summer with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. Her last concert there was the night before she was killed. This is one of the more detailed accounts of what happened, and it is quite disturbing: The New York Times. Our hearts go out to her family and friends.

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 44: James Ehnes, Baiba Skride, Gil Shaham in concert

August 19, 2014 16:13

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.

James Ehnes
Photo © Benjamin Ealovega. Courtesy the artist.

James Ehnes performed the Walton at the BBC Proms

  • The Daily Express: "No matter how furious or tender the music, this Canadian phenomenon has a welcome lack of many a soloist’s “look at me” attitude. Ehnes draws you into his playing, inviting you to discover with the same wonder both the unknown and the familiar."
  • New Statesman: "To a rapt crowd, he played the third movement of Bach’s second sonata for solo violin, carefully drawing out the spread chords to support the sonorous melody. The quieter he played, the harder the audience listened, and the more intense the silence surrounding his music became."
  • "This was a glorious performance that revelled in the Concerto's lyricism without becoming cloying. But the encore was simply spell-binding: Ehnes played the third movement from Bach's Second Sonata for solo violin as the whole Royal Albert Hall leaned in to listen."
  • Music OMH: "The generosity of Ehnes’s playing was reflected in a fine encore (the third-movement Andante from Bach’s Sonata in A minor) and in his return to the Hall after the interval (during which he happily received plaudits from fans) to hear and watch the BBC NOW and Søndergård tackle two key Sibelius works."
  • Listen to the concert, via the BBC. (Or at least listen to that Bach! Walton begins at 0:28:07; Bach at 1:04:43)

Baiba Skride performed the Stravinsky at the BBC Proms

  • The Arts Desk: "The way in which she finds such musical solutions to the first movement’s devilish voltes-faces flipping from gorgeous legato to clownish parody in a heartbeat is remarkable; so, too, the exquisite Bach-like refractions of the two Arias where embellishment feels so in the moment as to properly invoke the improvisatory nature of the work’s true inspiration."
  • Listen to the concert, via the BBC.

Gil Shaham performed Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

  • Los Angeles Times: "Shaham is a mercurial violinist with a silvery, slippery tone beautifully employed in the opening solo."

We also always welcome and encourage review blogs from our members! Here is a review from high school senior Joshua Iyer of Aurora, Ill.:

The Grant Park Orchestra and Choir performed Ravel's "Daphnes et Chloe" in Chicago:

  • "One of my dreams is to follow a score and hear the notes on the page come to life literally around me, and this brought chills to my spine."

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

3 replies

The Week in Reviews, Op. 43: Matthew Trusler and Joshua Bell at the BBC Proms

August 12, 2014 15:10

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.

Matthew Trusler
Photo: Sheila Rock. Courtesy the artist

Matthew Trusler performed the Mathias at the BBC Proms

  • The Guardian: "Trusler brought an organic ebb and flow to Mathias's twisting melodies. His handling of the rondo and the work's big cadenzas was thrillingly dexterous."
  • The Arts Desk: "The work may not have a burning desire to communicate, but Matthew Trusler absolutely did. This was a dazzling Proms debut. The violin tone reaches right to the back of the hall where I was sitting; harmonics bite, phrasing lives, intonation never falters, the partnership with the orchestra was razor-sharp throughout. Next time, Walton, Britten or MacMillan, Mr Trusler, please."
  • Evening Standard: "William Mathias is perhaps better known for his church and organ music, which has a habit of reverting to a default mode of mechanistic note-spinning. There were passages of that in the Violin Concerto, which even the eloquent soloist Matthew Trusler was unable to disguise."
  • Listen to the concert: BBC Radio 3

Joshua Bell performed the Bruch at the BBC Proms

  • The Guardian: "Bell was entrusted with the first half, directing Beethoven's First Symphony from the leader's chair, before playing and directing Bruch's First Violin Concerto from the centre of the platform. The Beethoven was clean and exuberant, nicely subtle in its delineation of the symphony's amalgam of grandeur and wit. The Bruch, meanwhile, was lyrical, low key and elegant, the drama restrained rather than fiery, the tone warm and sweet throughout."
  • Listen to the concert: BBC Radio 3

Leonidas Kavakos performed Szymanowski’s Second Violin Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra

  • The Boston Globe: "Saturday’s fullest meal, however, came courtesy of Szymanowski’s Second Violin Concerto, a late work of imaginative color and deep-welled melody, poetically rendered here by soloist Leonidas Kavakos, who also made the most of this work’s blistering cadenza. The violinist further held the Shed spellbound with his hushed encore, Tarrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” in Ruggiero Ricci’s arrangement, performed here with a technique at once exacting and subtle."
  • The Berkshire Eagle: " Violinist Leonidas Kavakos, a deeply thoughtful musician, and conductor Stephane Deneve teamed in exploring the Polish composer's modernist raptures, which extend to a fiendish cadenza."

Christian Tetzlaff performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

  • The New York Times: "Mr. Tetzlaff conveyed with burnished tone and polished vigor the youthful energy of the concerto, one of five for violin that Mozart composed while a teenager. Mr. Tetzlaff, a free-spirited soloist who played his own cadenza, performed the Adagio with soulful introspection. He and the orchestra offered an enjoyable rendition of Mozart’s Rondo in C (K. 373) as an encore."
  • New York Classical Review: "By the end, the good far outshone the bad, and the encore of Mozart’s Rondo in C Major, K. 373 was sweet."
  • ConcertoNet: "He was dazzling, yes, But he performed to show off his endless skills, not the work of Mozart."

Peter Otto performed the Haydn with the Cleveland Orchestra

  • The Plain Dealer: "Between his dazzling virtuoso cadenza and seductive Adagio redolent of a human voice, the violinist fully warranted the bravos he received."

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 42: Daniel Hope premieres Gabriel Prokofiev's Violin Concerto

August 5, 2014 11:40

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.

Daniel Hope
Photo: Harald Hoffman/DG

Daniel Hope premiered Gabriel Prokofiev's Violin Concerto at the BBC Proms

  • The Guardian: "With its gunshots and explosions, the work may feel programmatic but it tugs at bigger ideas, especially with Hope as the eloquent soloist, making his 1742 Guarneri del Gesù sing out. This violinist, now among the best in the world as well as the most thoughtful, is as brilliant at Bach as Birtwistle and even Einaudi."
  • The Independent: "Daniel Hope, the instigator of this work, played its stratospherically high solo part with flawless accuracy; the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic under Sascha Goetzel handled their percussion-heavy part to suitably sinister effect."
  • The Telegraph: "Standing aloof in all this heat like a Northern fog-bank was Gabriel Prokofiev’s concerto. Subtitled 1914, this was an imaginary traversal through the year 1914 in four movements, though the narrative was not a simple one from jingoistic bravado to disillusion. The disillusion was there from the start, and the scraps of march always seemed hollow."
  • The Arts Desk: "’s only the moments which count – and there are some ravishing ones for Hope (pictured above), whose instrument is treated with proper singing, violinistic respect – while the overall trajectory is static and numbing in the wrong sense."
  • Listen to the concert: Part 1, Part 2

Lisa Batiashvili performed the Bach at the Bristol Proms

  • Music OMH: "An arrangement of the ‘Spring’ movement from Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires once again saw Batiashvilli’s personality and skill bounce forward in a gutsy performance that made the hour-long concert seem all too short."
  • Classical FM: "this was a show dedicated to taking Bach to a new audience..." (link includes video of the performance)

Augustin Hadelich performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra

  • Berkshire Eagle: "His deft, imaginative playing highlighted each tune and turn, sometimes seeming more about him than Mozart."

Christian Tetzlaff performed Lalo's "Symphonie espagnole" at the Grant Park Music Festival

  • Chicago Classical Review: "The German violinist’s light dance-like touch offered a lean and focused take on Lalo’s Spanish rhythms, which provided a fine foil for the fervent accompaniment of the orchestra under Kalmar."

Did you attend a concert in the past week? If so, please tell us about it in the comments. Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

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