Last weekend for the first time since moving to Ohio, I had the pleasure of seeing a performance by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Originally on the program were a handful of pieces ranging from Mozart to Mendelssohn: Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183; Klein’s Partita for Strings; Mysliveček’s Octet (parthia) for Winds No. 3 in B-flat Major and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor featuring ProMusica’s Creative Guest Partner and Principal Artist, Vadim Gluzman.
I heard Mr. Gluzman perform a violin concerto by Alban Berg last May with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. He’s incredibly good and has an album of Partitas out that I especially enjoy. You should check it out!
Unfortunately, because of a sudden family emergency, Mr. Gluzman had to fly back home to Israel at the last minute. That was announced last Tuesday. The concerts were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday! Fortunately, Mr. Gluzman’s good friend and amazing violinist, Mr. Philippe Quint (American violinist, Russian by birth) was able to stand in. Plus, Maestro Danzmayr was able to change his schedule around to conduct the ensemble as Mr. Gluzman was originally going to be on the podium as well.
The show must go on, right?
Mr. Quint arrived in Columbus on Friday and performed on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, Mendelssohn’s violin is standard repertoire for him and he already had it memorized because he only had about one rehearsal with the orchestra prior to performing it for us.
Wow. He was so good and while I only have my CD recording for comparison, he definitely topped that! The recording I have is of the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Maestro Leonard Bernstein with Pinchas Zuckerman on the violin. I couldn’t help but grin during the cadenza in the middle of the first movement. I didn’t know fingers could move that fast. He really did an excellent job playing that for us.
After listening to Mendelssohn’s violin concerto a million times in my car or on headphones, I finally got to hear it live! Oh wow – it was so beautiful and apparently the rest of the sizable audience agreed with me because we all gave him a standing ovation with a couple extra curtain calls!
We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed it. Check out Jennifer Hambrick’s concert review!
Philippe Quint seems to be quite prolific in terms of recorded music. He’s been nominated for several Grammy awards and has even recorded the Mendelssohn concerto we heard at this concert. Visit his website so you can learn more about him. Be sure to check out his recordings, while you’re there.
On a side note, Philippe Quint was also in a movie last year about a Russian violinist working in New York. Take a look at this trailer. At least here we certainly don’t have to worry about the lead actor’s merely playing the “air violin!”
The beauty of ProMusica Chamber orchestra is that it allows for chamber music to be played. It’s smaller than a full-fledged symphony orchestra and can still play symphonies that call for a full orchestra, (though you probably won’t see something like Mahler or Stravinsky in this setting) but it also has the ability to just send out a handful of musicians as it did with its opening piece: Mysliveček’s Octet (Parthia) for Winds in B-flat Major. The concert started with eight musicians: two clarinets, two oboes, two bassoons and two french horns – played by CSO hornists Principal Gene Standley and Adam Koch.
What they played was a beautiful piece by someone I’d never even heard of before: Czech composer, Josef Mysliveček, a contemporary and friend of Wolfgang A. Mozart. (though I saw somewhere they eventually had a falling out over an opera commission or something. I’ll have to look into that!). The clarinet parts were especially good and it was all extremely well-played.
Speaking of Mozart
The second half of the program was devoted to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Maestro David Danzmayr commented on how they just exchanged one G-minor symphony for another. (The program was originally going to perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G-minor, K. 183. If you’ve seen the movie Amadeus, you’ll recognize it as the opening music being played after Maestro Salieri makes his entrance.)
I’ve been hearing so much Romantic and 20th Century era music lately that hearing this symphony was like I had a chance to go home and spend time relaxing in a familiar and comfortable setting. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Of course – I like Mozart so much that I’m already planning a road trip down to Chattanooga, TN to hear this very piece performed again by the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra as part of its chamber series. I’m really looking forward to hearing them play in February!
KUDOS to ProMusica Chamber Orchestra for an added piece of entertainment: Coda. After their concerts, they allow the audience to meet and ask questions of some of the musicians from that evening’s concert. In this case, we had the opportunity to hear Maestro Danzmayr and soloist Philippe Quint afterwards. And while sure, that was cool and all, I also got to finally meet Classical 101′s own morning host, Boyce Lancaster! Yea!
Mr. Lancaster started things off (once someone found batteries for the microphones! D’oh!) asking them about the changes and such for this concert. From there they went all over the place and seemed to really enjoy answering questions from the audience. I loved having the opportunity to get to know the musicians a little bit in a more informal – and approachable – setting.
Upon meeting Mr. Lancaster, he asked me, “Isn’t this a wonderful way to spend an evening?”
Absolutely! Well done, ProMusica!
Want more violins? Come back on Monday for part I of an exclusive interview with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy. OK – I still don’t know how exclusive it really is, but it’s pretty cool all the same! He’s very talented – you’ll want to meet him!
- Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 (wqxr.org)
- Thank You Mendelssohn! (susanhrach.wordpress.com)
- Pictured: The Mozart violin that has returned to Salzburg (artsjournal.com)
- Music Review: Philharmonic Plays Mendelssohn and Dvorak (nytimes.com)
- Felix, The Prodigious Cat (sago.com)