News Column

Naples Masterworks: Thrilling to Augustin Hadelich's violin on Mozart and Puccini

May 9, 2014

By Harriet Howard Heithaus, Naples Daily News, Fla.



May 09--If you want to get a jump on your day tomorrow, pop Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony into your iPod alarm clock. Crank it up.

That effervescent sound will spring you from the bed in the morning with such force you will have brushed your teeth, made the coffee, packed a sandwich and possibly painted the kitchen within its first five minutes. It's that infectious. And that fast.

The Naples Philharmonic gave it a joyously zippy treatment Thursday in its final Masterworks concert at Artis--Naples. Although we felt some of the violin sections were sounding muddy in the first section interludes, it wasn't because guest conductor Roberto Abbado had turned up the heat too much. The work came in at close to 30 minutes, an average time for this romp of a work.

Fortunately, not a note was lost in the clarion theme that identifies the sunniest symphony ever written, and the insistent heraldry of the horns and woodwinds was commanding here. Further in, with Abbado lavishing close attention on each section, the performance jelled into the nearly visual blitz of the Beautiful Country Mendelssohn so enjoyed.

If those who attend the same program at the Artis--Naples Friday night (8 p.m.May 9) are truly fortunate, they'll also get the encore violinist Augustin Hadelich played for the crowd Thursday: the Paganini Caprice No. 5. (For tickets, see artisnaples.org)

Hadelich, in his sophomore appearance here, was guest artist for the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major (the "Turkish"). This is not a violin cake walk; its adagio movement has to tussle into a spirited opening and shift through any number of tempo and key changes.

Mozart wrote out the cadenza for it, involving rapid runs of sixteenths that require the performer to ricochet the bow, with dead accuracy, over the strings.

Mozart's style, say music historians, was developing operatically, and putting a demand on the violinist to use the instrument as a human voice. For that, Hadelich, who plays with a keen understanding of his works, was a wonderful choice. He brought the lyrical, vocal approach to the piece that it needed.

The Naples Philharmonic and Abbado returned in kind, performing a nimble rendition, well defined and tightly formed, right down to the Turkish-march col legno -- playing with the bow's wood section -- with the celli and basses in its final movement.

In fact, Abbado was the perfect choice for this concerto as well. The nephew of the late conductor Claudio Abbado, Roberto is a go-to conductor for opera as well as symphony.

Still, many of us had seen Hadelich nearly burn up his Stradivarius on the Brahms Violin Concerto in May 2012. So when he offered the ultra-tricky caprice as an encore, we knew we were in for at least 2 1/2 minutes of thrilling showmanship on impossible violin gymnastics.

The joy of Hadelich's performance is not only his meteoric -- that's too slow a description -- speed, but his appreciation for the structure and intent of the piece. When the crowd finally exhaled and jumped to its feet, few thought long enough to shout bravo -- we all just cheered.

The concert opened with Luciano Berio's "Renderings," a work said to be derived from Franz Schubert's fragments of a 10th symphony.

The fragments were certainly in there, and there were some dreamy sonic seascapes and tantalizing harmonic statements. But this probably held more charm before Disney co-opted the celesta for "Peter Pan" and created all those subterranean movie musicals.

The work was too much of the same, veering close to a soundtrack with an animated mermaid and fish.

And a question

To those people who were dashing for the door, right down the aisle and in front of the orchestra the second it finished the final work: Where are you going in such a hurry? These people have just worked their fingers, arms and lungs off for your entertainment over the last two hours, and it's incredibly rude to do that to them. I don't think I was the only one mortified at that behavior; to stay and applaud would have slurped up all of two more minutes.

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(c)2014 the Naples Daily News (Naples, Fla.)

Visit the Naples Daily News (Naples, Fla.) at www.naplesnews.com

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Source: Naples Daily News (FL)


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