West Australian Symphony Orchestra/Caetani Ilya Gringolts

Violin Concerto in D, Op.35
Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27

Ilya Gringolts (violin)

West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Oleg Caetani

Reviewed by: William Yeoman

Reviewed: 17 March, 2007
Venue: Perth Concert Hall, Western Australia

Ilya Gringolts is not only a supreme technician but also an accomplished artist who seems to ask, in all seriousness, “Sonate, que me veux-tu?” – and in doing so achieves a perfect balance between individual expression and fidelity to the score. The same could be said of the urbane Oleg Caetani, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, whose mixture of precision and flexibility on the podium elicited some magnificent playing from the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in this concert of two standards of the classical repertoire.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony in the same programme could quite easily comprise a schmaltzfest of the highest order. But not here. In the Tchaikovsky, it was soloist-as-medium, with Gringolts’s elegance of phrase and utterly insinuating tonal sheen allowing the composer to speak with unabashed eloquence. The first-movement cadenza, so poised, so lyrical was surely worth the price of the tickets alone.

As an encore, Gringolts delivered a compellingly spectral rendering of one of Paganini’s caprices, again eschewing showmanship while nevertheless revealing his astonishing control and impeccable taste.

One of the features of the Tchaikovsky was the magic Caetani worked with the WASO strings; this was even more apparent in the Rachmaninov, where the richness of the string-writing was brought out to perfection. Around this dark-hued censer, a sometimes delicate, sometimes pungent perfume of brass, woodwind and percussion swirled, Caetani’s understated manner unleashing a heady brew of Romanticism sans sentiment. And here, as in the Tchaikovsky, the orchestra really delivered, with some impressive contributions from principals and a refulgent corporate sound that enraptured a capacity audience through the 60-plus minutes of the symphony’s duration – no mean feat.

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