Sunday, April 21, 2013
I suspect Mr. Hadelich made quite a few new fans on Friday night. His articulation was remarkable. The performance had a wonderful clarity. I heard notes in the concerto that I wasn't even aware were there--perhaps because many violinists slur them most of the time. I don't know, but the overall impression was one of breathtaking precision--which is not to say that the playing lacked lyrical qualities where lyrical qualities were required. Hadelich had a way of slightly cheating the duration of certain notes at the end of phrases that created an interesting tension.
Overall, very impressive. This was among the best performances of the Beethoven Violin Concerto I've ever heard. The audience seems to have agreed with me. The members of the Symphony onstage seemed mesmerized listening to the cadenzas in the solo part and the hall burst into spontaneous applause at the end of the first movement. Much has been said recently about whether or not to applaud in the middle of multi-movement classical pieces. Generally, I like to hear the whole before applauding, but the audience was thrilled and I have every sympathy for the expression of appreciation in this case. Conductor Blomstedt, however, clearly disapproved, gesturing to the audience to stop with fingers waved behind his back (and apparently annoyed again at the end of the first movement of the Nielsen--although in that case, I suspect the applause was simply the result of confusion about whether the music had ended).
At the close of the Beethoven, Mr. Hadelich received a long standing ovation, to which he responded with an encore. I was pleased that he announced beforehand what he was going to play (Paganini's Caprice No. 24). I have no doubt I would have recognized it as a Paganini caprice, but I would have had to do some research to figure out which one it was. It's funny how very familiar pieces of music can be difficult to put a name to.
After intermission the ensemble played the Nielsen symphony--a rather expansive piece that seems always to be spilling out of a vessel too small for it. In some sections, it gave the impression of a solid wall of sound that was difficult to process. Elsewhere, the music became suddenly more melodic. There are some interesting textures here, but it was a lot to absorb all at once. I've certainly heard this before. I may even have a recording of it, but it's been a long time. While I've always found Nielsen interesting, and I certainly have a number of recordings of his music, they aren't recordings of music I turn to repeatedly. It's been many years since I've heard much Nielsen at all. I remember buying several Nielsen LPs in college at what was then my favorite haunt--Mole's Records, in Columbus, Ohio. Perhaps it's time to listen to some of them with more mature ears.
Had a tasty dinner afterwards at Absinthe. The yam and goat cheese ravioli were delicious. The emphasis was more on the yams than on the goat cheese. The slight sweetness of the yams went very well with a Fonsainte Grenache rosé I had from Corbieres. I enjoyed my appetizer (tuna tartare) with a Pouilly Fuissé.
Photographs of conductor Herbert Blomstedt and violinist Augustin Hadelich courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony.