Sunday, April 29, 2012

Viviane Hagner plays Vieuxtemps

We heard our last Orpheus Chamber Orchestra concert last night, at Carnegie. The program had a hodge-podge feel to it: Franz Shreker's Scherzo for Strings, Beethoven's Romance No. 2 in F major for Violin and Orchestra, Henry Vieuxtemps's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor and Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor. The new commission, Alex Mincek's Pendulum IX: "Machina/Humana," written in a modernist idiom and in homage to Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, amplified the discord.

The highlight of the concert, the Munich-born Viviane Hagner playing Vieuxtemps, was a superb memory to set alongside that of Gil Shaham playing with the orchestra at our first concert. Hagner was not a flashy player; she was, instead, deeply absorbing and utterly compelling. So was the orchestra accompanying her with passionate attention. The performance was in sharp contrast with the blandly professional rendition of Beethoven's Romance No. 2. Neither soloist nor orchestra seemed to have much heart for it. The orchestra's performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 was more involving, but hardly delicate. Too little space and light and balance.

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