Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Music I'm Listening To: Alexander Barantschik and Friends at the Green Music Center
Having scanned the program quickly, I was surprised by the Mendelssohn violin concerto that followed. I had thought Mendelssohn among that group of great composers who wrote only one violin concerto--Beethoven, Sibelius, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky--but it seems I was wrong. Mendelssohn's beloved E minor concerto was not on the program but a piece in D minor--written when Mendelssohn was only 13 years old. I struggled to hear something suggesting the mature composer, despite what the program notes said on the subject, and the piece wasn't especially memorable, but it was interesting to hear, nevertheless. It was premiered only in 1952, by Yehudi Menuhin, according to an interesting Art Hound article I found online by Geneva Anderson about Barantshick and the violin he plays today (the 1742" David" Guarnerius del Gesú, formerly owned by Jascha Heifetz).
After intermission, the group took up Britten's Simple Symphony, among my favorite pieces of music. Call me a philistine, but I love the sound of strings played pizzicato, and this piece features an entire movement without bowing. It was fun to watch the group plucking and strumming. Beautifully played throughout.
Photo of Alexander Barantschik courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony. Photo of Seth Asarnow from the Symphony Parnassus website. I'd be delighted to credit the photographer in each case, but no information is given.