Violinist Tasmin Little is a big hit with Seattle Symphony audience
English violinist Tasmin Little tackled a demanding Seattle Symphony program of Elgar and Dvorak with panache on March 12.
Special to The Seattle Times
Seattle SymphonyWith Tasmin Little, violin, and Gerard Schwarz conducting. 8 p.m. March 14, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $17-$97 (206-215-4747 or www.seattlesymphony.org).
English violinist Tasmin Little continued her residence with the Seattle Symphony this week with a weighty slab of English beef, the Elgar Violin Concerto. One could hardly find more contrast to her performances last week of "The Four Seasons." The Elgar concerto is nearly an hour long, and requires much of the soloist and the orchestra, not to mention the audience.
Little was certainly up to it. The orchestra began with its full, consonant string sound, putting this early 20th-century piece solidly back in the Romantic era, preparing the way for Little's entrance. The opening solo passages are written in the lower registers of the violin. They produce a very English, understated melancholy that Little completely rode with. The instrument itself seemed to lean toward darker tones, even when played in the higher registers. The Andante second movement was lighter, sweeter, and ventured into stratospheric territory.
The finale was full of rewards for the patient listener. The orchestra opened with grandeur, forming waves that Little skipped over like a mad sprite. It's always a joy to witness an artist with this kind of life-spark, who really connects with the music, with her instrument, with listeners. The audience's response to her was thunderous.
The second half of the program was Dvorak's Symphony No. 6, and it was an unqualified pleasure. The French horns gently nudged the door open for the strings to flood in, and the whole thing opened up like a giant flower. The first movement built up to one of those huge brassy finishes that defies the orchestral neophyte not to clap between movements.
The quieter Andante was a showcase for the fine principals of the woodwind sections. This set up the mad, bucolic energy of the Scherzo to burst forth in a way that reminds one of the composer's earlier "Slavonic Dances."
The finale was marked Allegro con spirito, and it certainly lived up to that. The energy from the Scherzo stayed way up, but in a less manic, more grand, way. It is apt that the French horns formed a mighty chorus in the end to finish what they had so tastefully started.
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