The Week in Reviews, Op. 240: Leila Josefowicz; Joshua Bell; Lisa Batiashvili; Hilary Hahn
October 2, 2018, 4:00 PM · In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.
Leila Josefowicz performed Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
- St. Louis Post Dispatch: "This is a work of fire and fury, played with stunning virtuosity by Josefowicz. Her fingers a virtual blur at times, she powered almost madly through the first movement, Mirage, with its emphasis on eerie harmonics and a relentless pace. It was angry at times, jittery and even unsettling."
Leila Josefowicz. Photo by Chris Lee.
Joshua Bell performed the Sibelius Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
- Cincinnati Business Courier: "...a dazzling and deeply personal performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto that riveted from beginning to end."
Lisa Batiashvili performed the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the University (of Michigan) Musical Society.
- The Michigan Daily: "Batiashvili possesses an effortless ability to take even the most difficult of passages and make them seem effortless. She soared above the orchestra, the upper strings responding to her every move and echoing her in kind."
Hilary Hahn performed the Bach Double with Margaret Batjer, and the Concerto in E major with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
- Violinist.com: "Her Bach has kick to it, rhythmic awareness, plenty of vibrato, and even the occasional glissando."
- San Francisco Classical Voice: "Hahn’s playing simultaneously projected maturity and a sense of high-wire virtuosity that occasionally pushed the fingering and bowing envelope. The most emotional aspect of the performance, however, came during the expressive, sonorous passages of the second movement Largo ma non tanto."
Frank Almond performed Bach’s Concerto for Violin in A minor and Vivaldi’s "The Four Seasons" at Frankly Music in Milwaukee.
- Shepherd Express: "These were lively, well-played and well-balanced performances which often found a happy Baroque groove"
Nicola Benedetti performed Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
- The Star: "There is quite a lot of humour in Prokofiev’s score, and both the orchestra and Benedetti demonstrated that they were capable of a light touch, but the emphasis throughout was on technical virtuosity rather than outright musicality."
Sandy Cameron performed Danny Elfman's "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra — Eleven Eleven" with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
- The Virginia Gazette: "Overall, the work features lots of fantastically and devilishly wicked virtuoso playing for the soloist and moments of lyricism set against a big-screen-type symphonic score that was big, bold, rhythmic and downright challenging in its own right....The physical and emotional energy (Cameron) put into the work was downright compelling, exciting and extraordinary."
Soovin Kim performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 1 with Vermont Symphony Orchestra.
- Rutland Herald: "This is an unpretentiously brilliant piece, full of spirit and lyrical beauty. Kim was the able soloist, delivering its exacting rhythms with incisiveness and singling lines with a silky sound, passion and depth, for a performance that was both compelling and elegant."
Ilya Gringolts performed Paganini's Concerto No. 1 with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
- The Sydney Morning Herald: "Gringolt’s performance was brilliant, with a full mastery of the score’s intense battery of technical hurdles all delivered with a polish and assurance.... Without a sign of stress, the soloist produced a definitive version of this concerto which proved briskly sparkling and warmly lyrical in turn, doing the much-maligned composer excellent service."
Joshua Bell performed the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
- Broadway World: "(The Charlotte Symphony's) Opening Night Gala lived up to its headliner and its hype, for I've never seen Bell play quite this well before....The zest and fire he brought to the Brahms Violin Concerto were unprecedented here, surpassing even the Beethoven sonata he played with Jeremy Denk at the Belk in 2007."
The LA Philharmonic performed its 100th Anniversary Opening Night Gala.
- Los Angeles Times: "'California Soul' was, to be sure, a mixed bag of things that worked and that didn’t."
Leonidas Kavakos performed the Stravinsky Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony.
- San Francisco Chronicle Datebook: "Leonidas Kavakos made a particularly nonchalant soloist, delivering the opening Toccata with a certain bloodless professionalism (this is music that in the right hands can be made to yield far greater expressive substance) and caressing the lines of the third movement — the second of the two paired Arias at the concerto’s heart — with more mopiness than emotion."
Vilde Frang performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
- The Scotsman: "There’s no doubting her clean, nimble playing, nor her vivid musical personality, and her non-heroic approach to the Concerto was admirable. But rather than vulnerably human, Frang’s Beethoven sounded simply self-indulgent – and entirely at odds with Mazzola’s bracing directness. It was, as they say, very much a concert of two halves."
- The Herald: "The Norwegian violinist swept very casually on and off the stage but had the precise measure of the acoustic of the hall in her dynamic and exciting performance. The cadenzas flowed beautifully from her conversation with the orchestra, and the playfulness of the concerto’s last few bars have rarely sounded so perfectly poised."
Please support music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
October 2, 2018 at 10:09 PM · I saw William Hagen (violin) play with Orion Weiss (piano) yesterday evening in Denver. They played the Janacek Sonata, Dvorak Sonatina, Schubert Rondo, Franck Sonata and Faure's Claire de Lune as an encore.
I was really impressed with both them - Hagen produced a wide variety of sounds, varying his vibrato a lot throughout, and especially in the Janacek, producing a very sweet and open sound with a relaxed vibrato, and contrasting really stormy dissonant parts with a more tense and intense vibrato. His sound was very beautiful and fluid throughout. My only complaint would be that his spiccato sometimes had too much grit, so that you got a lot more of the sound of the bow scratching against the string than note itself - This makes sense in the context of certain sections of the Janacek, but less so when I heard it in the Dvorak. But in general the excellent bowing was really used in services of good, fluid phrasing. Some of the dissonant modernism of the Janacek was leaned into occasionally where some of the phrases were played for their jarring effect a little more than melodically - There is a particular phrase that the violin repeats in the last movement that was done very percussively, which I found convincing and in the character of the piece. Contrasting with a recording of Midori I own, who plays the recurring phrase more melodically - I appreciate both approaches.
Weiss had a beautiful sound throughout, and the detail always came through in his playing, with a lot of the filigree in the Franck Sonata brought out carefully, and with a very beautiful left hand. He never had a glassy sound in loud passages.
The two worked together very well, especially in their spirit and approach, with a balance occasionally a little more in the piano's favor, but never obscuring the violin melody. The were occasional tiny bits of being out of synch, but I think that was the cost of the exciting and high-energy performance, and I think only the most anal person would be bothered by them.
I would definitely be interested in seeing either of them again, and especially look forward to hearing Hagen.