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Grandly Romantic

Vadim Gluzman on stage with
the Boca Raton Symphonia,


The great Russian school of violin playing has produced many distinguished artists. From Jascha Heifetz and Mischa Elman to David Oistrakh and such contemporary exemplars as Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin, the world's concert stages have been dominated by many stellar fiddlers. In a 21st century cornucopia of terrific young violinists, Vadim Gluzman is truly phenomenal. This magnetic Russian-Israeli is that rare musician of striking individuality and artistic discernment.

South Florida has been treated to a veritable feast of Gluzman's music making in recent weeks. In early November he gave a riveting performance of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's ultra-romantic, Hollywood derived Violin Concerto with the New World Symphony under Alastair Neale. On 7 December 2008 Gluzman turned Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto into freshly minted gold at the opening concert of the Boca Raton Symphonia in the acoustically resonant Roberts Theater at Saint Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida, USA.

Vadim Gluzman. Photo © Mark Berghash
Vadim Gluzman. Photo © Mark Berghash

Gluzman plays the 1690 Stradivarius that was owned by legendary virtuoso Leopold Auer, the dedicatee of Tchaikovsky's concerto. Drawing inspiration from this awesome historical link, he produced an impassioned flood of glorious, darkly burnished tone. Gluzman's grandly romantic conception of this often played warhorse overflowed with surprising turns of phrase and line. Bringing incredible artistry to every bar, he sculpted the concerto with the mastery that finds new color and lyrical grace in the score's most familiar pages.

Gluzman brought spacious authority to the initial Allegro moderato's second theme. The Canzonetta overflowed with searing intensity and poignant expressivity. In the finale, the violinist pulled out all the stops, producing sizzling fireworks at lightning speed. Gluzman boldly reinvented this thrice familiar opus, realizing Tchaikovsky's sweeping originality and melodic glories. The Boca Raton Symphonia's new principal conductor Alexander Platt offered keenly projected, supple support. A strong orchestral performance was marked by beautifully articulated woodwind solos.

Violinist Vadim Gluzman, conductor Alexander Platt and members of the Boca Raton Symphonia, performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto on 7 December 2008. Photo © 2008 Janis Bucher
Violinist Vadim Gluzman, conductor Alexander Platt and members of the Boca Raton Symphonia, performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto on 7 December 2008. Photo © 2008 Janis Bucher

In response to a lengthy standing, cheering ovation, Gluzman offered a movement from one of Eugene Ysaye's sonatas based on themes by J S Bach, dispensing the Paganini-like pyrotechnics with dazzling brio at rapid fire pace. Gluzman's commanding technique is beyond perfection. Like Heifetz, he essays probing performances of a far ranging repertoire, producing musical marvels.

Despite a few less players than last season, the thirty-two member Palm Beach County based chamber orchestra made a strong showing under Platt's invigorating direction. The conductor captured the intricate contrasts and interplay of instrumental choirs in Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto in E flat major, the 20th century master's modernist concerto-grosso. Drawing transparent textures from a reduced ensemble, Platt gave equal weight to this score's bracing neo-classical astringencies and primitive folkloric elements (in the mode of Petrouchka, Le Sacre du Printemps and Les Noces). The light and shadow, wit and pathos of Stravinsky's indelible work were vividly revealed.

In Mozart's Symphony No 38 in D major, K504 (Prague), Platt emblazoned the Beethovenesque drama beneath the music's genial high spirits. The strings wove the bewitching melody of the Andante with silky filigree. Platt's taut, no nonsense pacing of the Presto finale brought the symphony to an effervescent conclusion.

Copyright © 15 December 2008 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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