Monday, April 27, 2009

Nikolaj Znaider Performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto

Guest Conductor Osmo Vänskä with Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Great Reviews for Recent Performances with Cleveland Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony

Danish-born violinist Nikolaj Znaider returns to the Chicago Symphony on May 14-16 for three performances of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under guest conductor Osmo Vänskä. Znaider’s most recent US appearances – in Miami with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Brahms concerto, and with the Pittsburgh Symphony in the less-frequently performed Korngold concerto – earned the kind of reviews most artists only dream about.

In March, Andrew Druckenbrod, music critic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote:

“No one person should have the range of ability that Znaider possesses. A ravishing tone across the complete register, virtuosity for the quick and the nuanced, and artistic soul that allows him to sing out in the most compelling fashion. At 33, he already stands in an elite class of violinists worldwide.”

Znaider’s April performance of the Brahms concerto, with the Cleveland Orchestra at Miami ’s stunning new Adrienne Arsht Center , prompted the Miami Herald’s critic to observe: “the undisputed star of the evening was Nikolaj Znaider.”

The Danish violinist will perform Beethoven in Chicago , a city where he has long been a favorite. Znaider’s recording of the Beethoven concerto with the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta is described in American Record Guide as “the best performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto I’ve heard in over a decade.” The reviewer continues:

“[I had to re-hear] some incredibly played passages to try to figure out just exactly how Znaider did that. The supreme musicality of this performance comes partly from the consummate partnership between Znaider and Mehta. … Part comes from the utterly gorgeous instrument Znaider plays, and part from his awesome technique, particularly how he can nail pitches brightly and perfectly.”

The Washington Post wrote of Znaider’s performance of the Beethoven with the National Symphony under Iván Fischer:

“Znaider … shaped [Beethoven’s Violin Concerto] in the manner of a storyteller, starting off nearly inaudibly and then building and climbing before taking off into an inspired and beautifully ornamented narrative. … He combines his near-superhuman technique with a very human sense of song.”

After his Chicago performances, Znaider returns to London’s Barbican Hall for the Brahms Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis (May 24), and, a week later, plays string sextets by Brahms and Schoenberg with the LSO Chamber Ensemble (May 31). He and Sir Colin will then give centennial performances of Elgar’s lush Violin Concerto with the Dresden State Orchestra (Staatskapelle) in Dresden and on tour to Bad Kissingen and Wiesbaden . Znaider plays a famous “del Gesù” violin that once belonged to the great Fritz Kreisler, who first performed the Elgar concerto – which was dedicated to him – nearly 99 years ago. Znaider’s recording of the work (one of the longest of Elgar’s creation) – with Sir Colin Davis and the Dresden State Orchestra – should be released just in time for the concerto’s centennial next November.

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