Peter Tchaikovsky created his Violin Concerto in 1878, the violinist he
dedicated it to, one Leopold Auer, declined to play it, calling parts
of it unworkable.
It wasn't until 1881 that the violinist Adolph
Brodsky finally premiered the complex work in Vienna, and still some
critics were not enamored. One called it "long and pretentious."
the years, admiration for the piece has grown to the point that it is
now one of the most highly regarded violin concertos in the classical
repertoire, a guaranteed crowd pleaser in the hands of a master.
can place Korean-born violinist Chee-Yun on that list. Her performance
of this wickedly challenging composition was nothing short of
scintillating on Saturday night at The Forum in downtown Harrisburg. Her
finger work, bowing and artistry were
Chee-Yun's performance was part of
Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra's third Masterworks concert of the 2012-13
season. The show, which also features the Prelude to Richard Wagner's
comic opera "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" and Danish composer Carl
Nielsen's Symphony No. 3, will be repeated at 3 p.m. today in The Forum.
gem of the evening on Saturday was Chee-Yun's performance, helped along
handsomely by HSO and maestro Stuart Malina. Like many Tchaikovsky
works, the concerto is a flowery piece, and the wise violinist avoids
taking it over the top.
Chee-Yun, who began winning major violin
competitions when she was just 13, is such a player. Her work is winsome
yet strong, with flawless technique married to the warm sounds from her
300-year-old Stradivarius, the "Ex-Strauss." Following a standing
ovation at the conclusion of the concerto, she offered as an encore a
stunning solo rendition of Fritz
Kreisler's "Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice."
program features legendary composers at the top of their games, and
gives Malina and his talented group of professional musicians plenty to
Wagner's prelude to his only comic opera, created in
1868, is relatively short, yet the German master manages to introduce
four different themes before tying them together beautifully in the
finale. His miniature revs up the entire orchestra engine, leaving no
cylinder unfired. Woodwinds, strings and horns blend seamlessly.
is generally concidered to be Denmark's finest composer, and his Third
Symphony, titled "Sinfonia Espansiva," is a masterpiece of the
Scandanavian style. Like Wagner, Nielsen wields every section of the
orchestra in service to his work.
"Espansiva," created between
1910 and 1911, is fanciful in the beginning before turning more solemn
with the introduction of wordless singing provided to HSO by
guest artists Sasha Piastro and Jonathan Hays.
section provides a subtle accompaniment when needed - as when Chee-Yun
was igniting her pyrotechnics - but is quite capable of bursting forth
under the leadership of Malina when required, as in the final movements
of Nielsen's potent composition.
Review by David N. Dunkle
What: "Chee-Yun's Tchaikovsky," a Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Concert Program:
Prelude to "Die Meistersinger," by Richard Wagner; Violin Concerto by
Peter Tchaikovsky; Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia Espansive," by Carl Nielsen Guest artist: Violinist Chee-Yun When: 3 p.m. today Where: The Forum, Fifth and Walnut
streets, Harrisburg Tickets: $12-$64 Info: www.harrisburgsymphony.org or 717-545-5527