Don Giovanni, K527 – Overture
Violin Concerto No.2 in C sharp minor, Op.129
The Planets – Suite for Large Orchestra, Op.32
Vadim Gluzman (violin)
Women of the UMS Choral Union
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed by: Richard Landau
Reviewed: 24 April, 2016
Venue: Orchestra Hall, Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s guest conductor was Peter Oundjian, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony and the Royal Scottish National orchestras.
An animated account of the Overture to Don Giovanni was followed by Shostakovich’s Second Violin Concerto. It was given a deeply-felt reading by Vadim Gluzman, accompanied to the hilt by Oundjian and the DSO. This 30-minute work was written in 1967 to mark David Oistrakh’s 60th-birthday (although it turned out to be his 59th!). Gluzman possesses all the technical ability needed, and his playing has an ardour and empathy completely at-one with Shostakovich’s distinctive blend of bleakness and expression. Quite chilling was the slow movement’s cadenza, in which – apart from the Gluzman’s deeply intense contribution – David Everson’s horn-playing was outstanding. In the Finale, Gluzman’s virtuosity (in the best sense of that word), amply supported by alert and attentive accompaniment, ensured a stunning conclusion.
The popularity of Gustav Holst’s The Planets may eventually have come to irk the composer, casting his other works into the shadows, but the piece is always welcome to audiences.
After an urgent ‘Mars’ – here an unstoppable march that became ever-more terrifying until its final hammered-out ‘resolution’ – came the balm of ‘Venus’, with some particularly fine and sensitive playing. ‘Mercury’ scurried its way across the firmament with zest, and the grandeur of ‘Jupiter’ received full measure, especially from the brass, and the great hymn-tune (‘I vow to Thee, my Country’) was given with due solemnity. ‘Saturn’ trod an unusually stealthy and hypnotic path, vividly coloured. And after a fleet-footed and boisterous ‘Uranus’, and when quietude had been restored, there was an ice-cold ‘Neptune’. In the final pages the dissolve of the women’s voices into silence was as finely graduated as one could wish for.