Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
Louis Langrée, Conductor
Joshua Bell, Violin
At Avery Fisher Hall
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 18, 2012
Louis Langrée is Music Director of the Mostly Mozart Festival, as well as Chief Conductor of the Camerata Salzburg and Music Director designate of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Langrée has conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as orchestras in London, Tokyo, Rome, and Aix-en-Provence. He records widely and has honors bestowed on him by the French Ministry of Culture. (Program Notes).
Joshua Bell is a world-renowned violinist, who made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 17. He performs and records around the globe, including Tanglewood, Aspen, Hollywood Bowl, Ravinia, Tucson, San Diego, and Saratoga, as well as South Africa and Europe. Mr. Bell is an Avery Fisher Prize and Career Grant recipient. He performs on a 1713 Huberman Stradivarius. (Program Notes).
Ilya Finkelshteyn, Cello
Natalia Katyukova, Piano
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Sonata No. 1 in E minor (1865): Allegro non troppo, Allegretto quasi Menuetto-Trio, Allegro.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Symphony No. 1 in E-flat major, K. 16 (1765): Molto allegro, Andante, Presto.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828): Symphony No. 4 in C minor (“Tragic”) (1816): Adagio molto-Allegro vivace, Andante, Menuetto: Allegro vivace, Allegro.
Johannes Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major (1878): Allegro non troppo, Adagio, Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace-Poco piu presto.
Tonight’s Pre-Concert Recital brought out Ilya Finkelshteyn on cello and Natalia Katyukova on piano for Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 in E minor. I had hoped Joshua Bell would perform the solo “early show”, but his later performance was well worth the wait. This Sonata had a lovely expansive theme, with the piano responding to direct musical cues. Mr. Finkelshteyn, on a 1700 Giovanni Crancino cello, played the Allegro with seamless spirited passion. Ms. Katyukova caught my ear in the second Allegretto movement, with swirling and fanciful rhythms. The third Allegro movement had a bit of drama and a magnetic melody.
Soon Maestro Louis Langrée appeared, for the Mozart Symphony No. 1, which the composer wrote as a child of eight, having been inspired by Johann Christian Bach. It lasts but twelve minutes and has the air of a child’s ingénue spirit, but both conductor and orchestra infused the music with dynamism, to enhance its tonal structure. The effect was casual, breezy, with a joyful burst of energy. The Schubert Symphony No. 4, written when the composer was but nineteen, opened in the Adagio with urgent, driven crescendos of vibrancy. The Andante had windy strings, combining for lyrical elegance. The Menuetto – Allegro theme was optimistic, uplifting, with sharp percussive effects and magisterial momentum. The final Allegro was most enticing, evoking yearning and echoing refrains. It ended with pageantry and force.
After intermission, there was much anticipation of Joshua Bell, who continues to draw enormous crowds to his global performances. In addition to Mr. Bell, his 1713 Stradivarius had a personality of its own, creating treasured musical moments, as the audience basked in the scintillating glow of its surreal sound. The piece was powerful, opening with full orchestral majesty. I could barely take notes, the experience was so enthralling. Mr. Bell’s first movement solo was astounding, as he leaned his head sideways over his violin, toward the orchestra, in a bonding effect. The theme was imbued with drama and depth, and the connection between soloist and orchestra was tight, as subtle cues were followed by sensational violin solos. The Adagio was so gripping, that I immediately listened to it again online, when home. Mr. Bell carried this expressive theme almost throughout, with assuredness, acuity, and ardor.
The Allegro giocoso brought Maestro Langrée and his orchestra in fusion with Mr. Bell for an extraordinary and breathtaking finale. The audience was indescribably drawn in, bent forward, and the air was palpable. It was at this point that Maestro Langrée drew on his emotional and artistic resources to bring the Concerto to conclusion. Many stage returns followed the deep, affecting applause. I wished, as so many did, for a solo violin encore…………….
Kudos to all.