It was a substantial concert (4½ stars out of 5) that produced standing ovations and two encores at
- A sonata called “Devil’s Dream” that Berlinsky announced from the stage, but it was difficult to understand him through the microphone system.
- Antonio Vivaldi: “Winter” from “The Four Seasons”
- Astor Piazzolla: “Summer” from “The Four Seasons of
- Alfred Schnittke: “Suite in the Old Style”
- Camille Saint-Saens: “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra”
- Niccolo Paganini: “La Campanella”
- Encore 1: Jerry Bock: “Fiddler on the Roof”
- Encore 2: Romantic work with a title that escapes me.
Performing with Berlinsky were 11 young players called the International Chamber Soloists. I could be snarky here and wonder why the individuals weren’t listed in the program or announced from the stage – or ask for whom they are soloists. But I won’t.
Two cellists, one bassist, two viola players and six violinists supported Berlinsky well. Their full, rich sound enhanced the listening.
The Paganini piece closed the formal program. By then, Berlinsky was well warmed to that composers’s maddening challenges. The piece is a showcase of blitz playing.
It came on the heels of Saint-Saens’ treasure chest of sounds, including bursts of showy speed and moments of soulfulness. It was fascinating to watch Berlinsky’s nimble left hand work the violin neck; a natural act for him would be awkward to normal mortals.
The Alfred Schnittke work was lovely – nicely varied.
Particularly rewarding was Vivaldi’s “Winter.” Berlinsky teased that it’s popular elevator music. He and the orchestra went on to show why concerts are put on, no matter how perfect a recording is or how familiar a work might be. Not available on a recording is how Berlinsky interacted with the orchestra to conduct the sections with body language, slight gesture, a nod or a look. Not available is the aural dynamic of the ensemble in this space at this time. Not available is the sway, the bob, the emphasis of musicians as they accent their sound with motion. Not available is being alive on Saturday night with some place to go with other people with some place to go, for a shared experience. Not available is the whole effect in living color 3D. It’s pretty darned good music in the first place, and seeing and hearing it live is… Mmm-waaa, the pièce de ré·sis·tance.
Much about the program was appealing because of its concept. It puts a violin soloist in a setting with a chamber group and lets the spotlight shine on someone with the talents of Berlinsky while adding a fuller sound.
REST OF SEASON: New Century Saxophone Quartet, March 9; organist Paul Jacobs, April 11; Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, May 17.
THE VENUE: Ralph Holter Auditorium in
THE PERSON: Ralph Holter spoke softly and carried a big impact. He was conductor of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, which performed regularly in the hall that bears his name. Holter taught music at
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