Monday, June 01, 2015

Augustin Hadelich wows audiences, Manfred Honeck shines with the New York Philharmonic

I should have known it would be a great night with the New York Philharmonic. They usually play well for Manfred Honeck (music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra) and it was a stellar program of Johann Strauss, Mozart, and Brahms. The orchestra gave a spirited reading of the overture to Die Fledermaus, full of the melodies and dances that make the opera so popular. Then violinist Augustin Hadelich joined them for Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 and captivated the audience for a half hour. Hadelich's cadenzas were particularly impressive for being his own compositions and yet well suited to the concerto. I have rarely had the pleasure of hearing an artist at the beginning of his career with such control and artistry. I also enjoyed the enthusiasm of the basses and celli in the “Turkish” section of the last movement. The audience applause at the end of the concerto called for an encore. Mr. Hadelich delivered, with Paganini's Caprice No. 5 which he played with what seemed like incredible ease. His fingers flew up and down the fingerboard so fast that I could have sworn I saw wisps of smoke. I am certain that if he wanted to keep playing all night, we'd all still be there listening. 

Brahms' symphony no. 4 was the second half of the concert. Honeck led the orchestra through a dark, energetic and dramatic performance. The strings and winds sang in the second movement, and the third movement was lively and almost raucous. The passacaglia in the fourth movement brought the work to a stormy conclusion and the audience brought Honeck back out for several ovations. It was a truly impressive evening and a great end to my subscription for the season. Next up: Concerts in the Parks!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I spent my whole weekend playing Carmen with the New York Opera Exchange. We played a show on Friday, two shows on Saturday, and a closing matinee on Sunday. We played in a church social hall with no central air conditioning and a too-cramped pit for the orchestra. It was ridiculously hot and on Saturday my back hurt and on Sunday my fingers were so sweaty it was hard to play. And yet I had the time of my life. I’ve had some amazing musical experiences in New York and this one is high on the list (along with playing Mozart’s The Magic Flute in February 2014). I am incredibly lucky to get to play music like this in this city. There are times when I wonder why I’m doing this, when I’m shlepping my viola through a crowded subway car on my way to another rehearsal. I will think of weekends like this one the next time I think about saying no and sitting at home watching TV.