#8: On Becoming

  • #Violin

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It’s safe to say that the audiences, contestants, and commentators are wrung out after the first violin final. The extraordinary program took us from the subtle unfurling of Korngold’s D Major Violin Concerto with Marie-Astrid Hulot;  to a ravishingly mournful Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 with Anna Agafia Egholm, to an expansive, propulsive Tchaikovsky No. 35 unloosed by Johan Dalene; an unfolding of musical riches that carried all lucky enough to witness them on a dizzying journey of cinematic scope. 

Hulot’s choice of the Korngold was apt; the steely quality of the music matching the cool elegance and complete comprehension of her musical expression. Commentators noted that the finalists were in the midst of the final battle of the ‘campaign’ they had waged to get here. That militaristic description aptly reflects the gruelling hours of practice and the relentless playing schedule they have maintained with energy and excellence, without a single day off from rehearsal or performance in their nine day sojourn. 

Anna Agafia Egholm brought a profound, almost spiritual quality to her Shostakovich. Watching her in the second movement – physically very still yet suffused bodily with the music – was to feel privy to an act of deep creation. She appeared almost, in her concentration,  to be pulling up the music itself from some source deep inside her, a channeling, as much as a performance. 

Johan Dalene seemed utterly at home in the concert hall and in his Tchaikovsky, expansive and exuberant, exulting in the Hollywood moments and silkily exploiting the edges of light and shade, volume and expression.  He conveyed a warmth and ease that carried his audience away satisfied, thrilled and contentedly weary. 

The maturity and authenticity of communication achieved by these young artists must be seen to be believed. One was put in mind, all in all, of Leonard Bernstein’s memorable admonition:

If I don't become Brahms or Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky when I'm conducting their works, then it won't be a great performance.

The same may be said of performers. The second final is sure to be unmissable.

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