The evening, fully dedicated to Russian music, featured Glinka’s Spanish Overture No.2 (A Summer night in Madrid) and Grammy Award Winner August Hadelich playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The concert concluded with the majestic Scheherezade, composed by Rimsky-Korsakov.
The concert included some of the most moving and beautiful tunes of Russian romanticism. The experienced Spanish conductor Jesús López Cobos seemed to be very confident commanding the SSO in this repertoire.
Inspired by the music that he encountered during his visit to Spain in 1848, Glinka depicted a colorful melody, full of gracious phases which evocate the richness of Spanish musical tradition. The rendition of the SSO was refined and passionate at a time. We enjoyed especially some joyful phases of the flutes and the horns.
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 is one of the most popular works for violin in the classical repertoire. It was considered impossible to play when it was composed in 1878 and nowadays it is also an unavoidable challenge in every top violinist’s career. August Hadelich played in a live concert at the Benaroya for the first time after receiving a Grammy Award with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. During his performance, we listened to some unbelievably beautiful notes coming out of his Stradivari. However, sometimes orchestra and violinist sounded somehow disconnected. Mr. López Cobos struggled to find a balance between Mr. Hadelich´s vibrant stamina and the elegance and restraint of the orchestra. The American soloist seemed possessed by Tchaikovsky himself, in a breath-taking but not so careful rendition. An amazed audience hailed Hadelich in a standing ovation and he responded with the Adagio of Bach´s Sonata No.2. This encore featured a gentle and evolving melody, almost hypnotic.
The evening continued with the symphonic suite Scheherezade, composed by Rimsky-Korsakov in 1888. It is a sample of the finest Russian orchestration and a great opportunity to prove the features of the orchestra. In a flawless rendition, the SSO musicians offered the best performance of the present season. Led by Maestro López Cobos, the orchestra made us dive in an ocean of overwhelming beauty.
Concertmaster Elisa Barston, attentive and elegant, understood perfectly the proposal of the Spanish conductor. The strings played with nobility and were the base of the homogeneous and well-delivered first movement. We should highlight as well the work of Jeffrey Barker (a luminous and gracious flute), Gabriel Campos Zamora (a warm and inspired clarinet) and Mary Lynch (an exquisite oboe). Lopez Cobos got the best of everyone. The orchestral planes combined nicely, in a rendition where everything worked out. Even with a guest conductor, the SSO maintained their level of excellence.
Carlos J López