In 1775 Mozart wrote all five of his violin concertos at age
19. The first
two are little more than homages to the "style galant," after Johann Christian
Bach. The last
three are Mozartean masterpieces, among the finest works the composer had
written by then. No.
5 in A. K. 219, is
usually regarded as the best of the best, with its strong lyrico/dramatic
structure in the final movement's "Turkish" section. In fact, it's easily good enough to
tolerate three straight hearings, which it did Wednesday evening by three
different IVCI participants.
(These three had already chosen their repertoire prior to the
competition from among the five of Mozart and one of Haydn.)
Presented at Uindy's Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center and
featuring for the first time the conductorless East Coast Chamber Orchestra
(ECCO), the concert began with Jennifer Higdon's short piece simply called
"String." The 25 violinists and violists stood (through the entire program),
giving us the cleanest attacks and most precise playing we've heard in any
Classical finals to date. "String" is a delightful, five-minute aperitif
opening with pizzicato, delving into a rapid triple meter then devolving into a
slower duple meter. It's
clearly contemporary but employs many common chords.
Tessa Lark, the only U.S.
player to make finalist, joined the ECCO strings plus the obligatory pair of
horns and oboes (a "minimum" Classical orchestra) to give us one of the two best violin sounds
best violin soundsheard from these six in the earlier events. She used different cadenzas from those usually heard by Joachim--possibly her own?--which is unusual but not unheard of. In both
the F-sharp minor and the "Turkish" sections of the finale, Lark could have shared
more energy--more "hair."
She did give us much beautiful playing in the sublime Adagio.
Lark was followed by Jinjoo Cho, the first of the five S.
Korean finalists. Though delivering her predictably thinner, more variable
vibrato, she and her ECCO partners gave the work more verve in those two finale
sections--as did the orchestra, for that matter. Perhaps having already played it once
made a difference . . . or not.
Ji Yoon Lee rounded out the program giving K. 219 a similar shape to that of her preceding
countryman. Both Lee and Cho, playing nearly white (vibratoless), nonetheless
provided moving accounts of the Adagio; all three players deserve an "A" for
that one. And
the use of the ECCO for this event ought to continue. Sept 18; Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center at Uindy