Sunday 21st June
Beethoven – Egmont Overture 9’
Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto 23’
Brahms – Symphony No 4 39’
Arabella Steinbacher’s encore – Prokofiev – Solo Violin Sonata, First Movement
Dresden Philharmonic’s encore – Rossini – William Tell Overture, Final
Dresden is a hallowed name in the world of classical music, and its conductor Michael Sanderling, too, comes from a fabled musical family. Together, Sanderling and the Dresden Philharmonic dig down to the very roots of the German symphonic canon; masterpieces by Beethoven and Brahms frame Arabella Steinbacher’s gloriously fresh take on Mendelssohn’s ever-popular Violin Concerto.
Classic FM’s John Suchet says:
Arabella Steinbacher is one of the leading violinists of her generation, famed for her passionate performances of Classical and Romantic concertos. This programme promises to showcase that passion, as Arabella performs Mendelssohn’s brilliant and much-loved Violin Concerto, joined by the Dresden Philharmonic.
Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:
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.. “The actual opener was Beethoven‘s Egmont Overture, the slow introduction being an heroic and effective vehicle for the Dresden Philharmonic‘s rich, poised sound. Under Michael Sanderling’s sensitive direction, and with well-handled dynamics, they evoked the drama of the story, ranging from turmoil to anguish to triumph. The knocking effect of the string passages was very compelling, as was the closing section with full orchestra swelling with excitement. The whole pivoted on a sudden pin-drop expectant silence. It was a fine display of teamwork, so they could have afforded to look a little less serious.
The highlight of the evening was Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, with Arabella Steinbacher‘s performance a joy to experience. Composed for Mendelssohn’s friend Ferdinand David, who like the composer became influential in the musical life of Leipzig, the concerto is full of memorable melodies and themes. Tonight’s interpretation demonstrated how it combines lyric ease – it simply flowed and the audience was swept along effortlessly – with virtuosity. From the first passionate notes, Steinbacher owned the stage whilst displaying a sensitive rapport with conductor and orchestra. There was a sense of the audience responding to her smiling disposition – we like to see our performers enjoying themselves.
There was also collective breath-holding in the crowd during the cadenza, which Steinbacher took at a stylishly unhurried pace, really making the silences count. Some beautiful orchestral playing in the minor key led to a subtle transition by winds then strings from the Allegro into the Andante. This movement embodied a sense of serenity, with lovely climbing phrases which somehow felt life-affirming. Known as a “song without words” it truly did sing its gorgeous melody. Steinbacher brought a further joyous atmosphere to the final high-spirited movement, which fairly bounded along with a dancelike forward momentum, and was warmly applauded. She then gave us a lovely encore in the shape of the first movement of Prokoviev’s Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 115. During a rendition that was both soulful and energetic, her violin seemed to be an extension of her body.” …
Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:
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… “The Dresden Philharmonic plays at a higher default decibel level than most other orchestras I’ve heard in over half a century (Chicago excepted). Sometimes it makes for uncomfortable listening when a concert-room has as probing an acoustic as we have in Symphony Hall.
So the opening of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture almost shocked me out of my seat, strings raspingly heavy as they dug into those portentous chords, conductor Michael Sanderling’s orchestral layout favouring double-basses making the sound-picture swing strongly to the left. I recovered in time to admire the fierce nobility of the horns as this developed into a well-defined reading.
Arabella Steinbacher was soloist in the ineffable Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, her tone rich, intonation glacially pure, her bow wielded almost like a weapon. This was a performance of huge personality, tempi deliberately unsentimentalised, musical paragraphs well contrasted, and with a first movement cadenza which was articulated in the manner of the great solo violin works by Mendelssohn’s beloved Bach.” …