Boston Symphony Orchestra/Frühbeck de Burgos Hilary Hahn

Cantos de España – Córdoba [orch. Frühbeck]
Suite española – Granada [orch. Frühbeck]
Iberia – El Corpus en Sevilla [orch. Arbós]
Violin Concerto No.1 in D, Op.19
Scheherazade – Symphonic Suite, Op.35

Hilary Hahn (violin)

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 11 March, 2010
Venue: Boston Symphony Hall

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, a frequent guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, returned to Symphony Hall in this program which opened with three vibrant orchestrations of piano pieces by Isaac Albéniz, each from a different piano suite. The first two, ‘Córdoba’ and ‘Granada’ were orchestrated by Frühbeck himself; the last, ‘El Corpus en Sevilla’, by Albéniz’s friend Enrique Fernández Arbós. Frühbeck is of course entirely at home in this music, and the BSO responded to his flexible rubato magnificently, fully evoking intense Iberian atmosphere and playing with great panache.

Hilary Hahn with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Photograph provided by Boston Symphony OrchestraThe violin was a strong presence in this concert, in which two superb soloists shone. The first was Hilary Hahn, who delivered a very characterful and impressive account of Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto. Hahn played its melodies with impeccable technique, great tonal beauty and an unusually wide dynamic range. She was tenderly expressive in the lyrical outer movements and bitingly intense as she spun out seamless phrases in the virtuosic scherzo. Through it all, she was well supported by the BSO musicians under Frühbeck, who displayed a keen ear for the unusual colorings of Prokofiev’s piquant score. The delicate endings of the first and final movements were rendered with particularly great finesse. In response to an ardent ovation, Hahn offered an encore: an elegant rendering of the ‘Loure’ from J. S. Bach’s D minor Partita.

Concertmaster Malcolm Lowe was the other violinist to shine in a brilliantly played account of Scheherazade during which none of the details of Rimsky-Korsakov’s superbly colored score were lost. Lowe’s sinuous solos, representing the eponymous heroine and her seductive narrations, were firmly toned, dramatically expressive and marked by a wistful elegance. Frühbeck’s elasticity with tempos – sometimes quickening, at other times rather broad – did much to highlight the richness of the score. The BSO players responded with magnificent ensemble playing and equally admirable contributions from solo winds. Those called out for much-deserved solo bows included cellist Martha Babcock, flutist Elizabeth Rowe, oboist John Ferrillo, clarinetist William R. Hudgins, bassoonist Richard Svoboda, hornist James Sommerville and trombonist Toby Oft.

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