Vi­o­lin­ist scores mu­si­cal tri­umph

Work with Zurich Cham­ber Or­ches­tra mas­ter­ful, fault­less.

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By DENNIS ROONEY

Vi­o­lin­ist Daniel Hope con­ducted the Zurich Cham­ber Or­ches­tra in the tra­di­tional role of leader of the first vi­o­lins. He opened the pro­gram with prefa­tory re­marks about his al­most life­long re­la­tion­ship with Ye­hudi Menuhin, whom he met at age 2 and with whom he later per­formed, the last time five days be­fore Menuhin’s death in 1999.

Menuhin called him­self Hope’s “mu­si­cal grand­fa­ther,” and the Tues­day pro­gram at the Kravis Cen­ter was in trib­ute to him. It opened with Hope and As­sis­tant Con­cert­mas­ter Donat Nuss­bauer play­ing the solo parts in Jo­hann Se­bas­tian Bach’s Con­certo in D mi­nor, BWV 1043, joined by 16 strings and con­tinuo of harp­si­chord and the­o­rbo (a large lute).

It was a true en­sem­ble per­for­mance. The solo vi­o­lin lines were nested within the whole. The open­ing vi­vace was fast, re­fresh­ingly so. The largo was al­ways lyrical but never rev­er­en­tial ex­cept for the ex­ces­sive slow­ing of its fi­nal mea­sures. The al­le­gro was a treat from start to its pizzi­cato fin­ish. In Ed­ward El­gar’s 1905 In­tro­duc­tion and Al­le­gro, Op. 47, I pre­fer a larger body of strings; how­ever, they might have been hard pressed to match the ar­tic­u­la­tion and en­sem­ble of the Zurich play­ers. The brac­ing open­ing theme, the nos­tal­gic “Welsh Tune” heard in con­trast, and the “devil of a fugue” (the com­poser’s de­scrip­tion) all add up to one of the great­est works for string or­ches­tra.

Un­fin­ished Jour­ney by the Le­banese émi­gré com­poser Bechara ElKhoury was heard next. Hope com­mis­sioned it for the 10th an­niver­sary of Menuhin’s death. Le­van­tine can­til­la­tion in the vi­o­lin is heard against ho­mo­phonic tex­tures in the or­ches­tral strings. It was a pleas­ant nov­elty.

In 1951, Menuhin per­formed Felix Men­delssohn’s “other” con­certo for vi­o­llin, Vi­o­lin Con­certo in D mi­nor, which he wrote at age 12 and was re­cently redis­cov­ered. De­spite Menuhin’s ad­vo­cacy, it hasn’t man­aged to en­ter the reper­toire in the sixand-a-half decades since its “premiere.” Men­delssohn wrote out the ca­den­zas in its three move­ments. It has an in­ter­est­ing be­gin­ning us­ing ma­te­rial from the open­ing of the Bach “Dou­ble” and a lively alla zin­gara con­clu­sion. But the mid­dle an­dante me­an­ders and the work lacks both the emo­tional in­ten­sity and per­fec­tion of the E mi­nor­con­certo. How­ever, Hope was an ef­fec­tive ad­vo­cate.

Af­ter in­ter­mis­sion, the en­sem­ble launched into Gus­tav Mahler’s 1896 ar­range­ment of Franz Schu­bert’s Quar­tet in D mi­nor, D. 810, which is nick­named “Death and the Maiden” af­ter the sec­ond-move­ment vari­a­tions on Schu­bert’s song (D. 531) of the same ti­tle. Mahler adds con­tra­basses to re­in­force the cello line; oth­er­wise, the four parts are left al­most un­touched. The en­large­ment dis­si­pates the work’s im­me­di­acy and drama. Nev­er­the­less, the per­for­mance was mu­si­cally fault­less. An en­core fol­lowed, the prae­ludium from Ed­vard Grieg’s Suite From Hol­berg’s Time,

Op. 40.

Photo by Ni­co­las Zonvi

As lead vi­o­lin­ist, Daniel Hope con­ducts the Zurich Cham­ber Or­ches­tra.

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