Concerto in E flat (Dumbarton Oaks)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.35
Symphony No.1 in B flat, Op.38 (Spring)
Augustin Hadelich (violin)
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed by: David Truslove
Reviewed: 17 February, 2016
Venue: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, England
“Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” could have been the caption for this imaginatively conceived programme with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, rather than the more prosaic “Hadelich plays Tchaikovsky”.
Marriage was the common denominator which the programme notes (compiled by three different writers) appeared to miss: Stravinsky’s ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ was a 30th-wedding anniversary commission for Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred (their estate in Washington DC was named Dumbarton Oaks), Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was written during a period recovering from a failed nuptials, and Schumann’s ‘Spring’ Symphony (written within a year of his wedding to Clara Wieck) is imbued with a marital afterglow.
A slight feeling of first-night nerves marked Stravinsky’s dazzling recreation of the Baroque Concerto grosso, scored for fifteen players. Despite Kirill Karabits’s well-judged tempos this buoyant account did not always reconcile the intimacy of its chamber forces with the extended reach needed for the size of this venue. Double basses and cellos needed, on occasion, to be more assertive especially in the bracing rhythms of the outer movements. But the musicians made the most of their witty solo exchanges in the central panel, notably a chirruping flute (Anna Pyne) whose birdsong seemed to conjure (unintentionally) a cross-reference to the ‘Spring’ of Schumann’s Symphony. References to folksong were nicely pointed up in the Finale.
Unease in the Stravinsky was replaced by total assurance in the Tchaikovsky. Augustin Hadelich was outstanding – flawless in technique and effortless in control, and in terms of collaboration reached a new gold standard. Hadelich is currently Artist-in-Residence with the BSO, and it wasn’t just that he had completely reliable intonation and unflagging energy, but that he could summon such variety of tone from the red-blooded to the most delicate whisper. Added to this was his poetic sensitivity which in the first-movement cadenza just took your breath away. An eloquent ‘Canzonetta’ with expressive woodwind contributions was followed by a whirlwind Finale, all concerned unruffled by the hair-raising tempo which unlocked even greater reserves of virtuosity from Hadelich, incapable here of producing an ugly sound. Karabits was wonderfully inspiring throughout, the BSO superbly supportive. The Andante from J. S. Bach’s A-minor Sonata (BWV1003) formed a necessary encore.
The vitality of the Tchaikovsky stayed in the air for an equally infectious account of the Schumann, from 1841, and which signalled a turning point in his career. Crisp string articulation, prominent timpani and a well-hidden triangle player (Matt King) added colour to the first movement’s impetus where Karabits showed a natural flair for shaping its symphonic logic. Expressive cellos underlined the song-like qualities of the Larghetto and taut rhythms the hemiolas in the Scherzo. Momentum was sustained throughout the Finale – and included a beautifully shaped cadenza from two horns and flute – which confirmed Karabits’s gift for coaxing from the BSO performances of such freshness and spontaneity.