In Canton, Two Warhorses Reach Transcendence

19/04/2019

United StatesUnited States Brahms, Rachmaninoff: Jennifer Frautschi (violin), Canton Symphony Orchestra / Gerhardt Zimmermann (conductor), Umstattd Hall, Canton, Ohio, 13.4.2019. (TW)

Jennifer Frautschi (c) Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Jennifer Frautschi (c) Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Brahms – Violin Concerto in D major Op.77
Rachmaninoff – Symphony No.2 in E minor Op.27

Under the baton of Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann, the final program of the Canton Symphony Orchestra’s MasterWorks season was yet more compelling proof of this ensemble’s consummate artistry. I have always enjoyed closely observing and listening to audience reactions, and on this occasion, awestruck wonder was the order of the evening. In addition to hearing two masterpieces of the Romantic spirit — Brahms’s Violin Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony — the former boasted the most magnificent guest soloist in recent memory.

That honor goes to violinist Jennifer Frautschi. From the outset of the Brahms, she was a stunning presence, a breathtaking conflation of grace and grit, and at times downright ferocious. The breadth of her virtuosity — particularly powerful in the first movement cadenza, along with her deep sensitivity to the score’s nuances — worked flawlessly to conjure a gripping emotional experience.

This was no small feat, considering Brahms’s ceaseless and daunting technical challenges. Beyond the sheer agility and wide finger span required, a the soloist needs consistently strong intonation, to avoid being drowned out by the orchestral sonorities, which were never intended to be merely a soft  backdrop. In that regard, Frautschi and the ensemble achieved a mesmerizing equipoise. Each navigated the work’s ebb and flow of Brahms’s rich melodic developments in a mutually energizing manner.

Equally energized, the Rachmaninoff was every bit as enthralling. When played as originally written, the symphony is an hour-long adventure, including an unusually lengthy first movement. It is not an uncommon practice for conductors to make some judicious cuts, as Maestro Zimmermann did on this occasion. But his editing did nothing to weaken or diminish Rachmaninoff’s masterful command of lyrical suspense and forward thrust.

It is a masterpiece given dramatic clarity by an electrifying ensemble. From the churning storminess of the first movement, into the sparkling syncopations of the lively second, the orchestra found not only excitement but dramatic clarity. The lovely and wistful Adagio featured an exquisite, haunting solo from principal clarinetist Randy Klein, before the festive and triumphal finale reached transcendence.

Tom Wachunas

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall’s 2020-2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Wigmore Hall in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tamara Rojo’s new Raymonda and ENB in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Transitions Dance Company’s 2020 UK Tour from 21 Feb – 6 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Aldeburgh Festival from 12 – 28 June 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2020 from 29 April to 16 May in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and more in Buenos Aires during 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! YAN PASCAL TORTELIER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH UKRAINIAN SOPRANO LIUDMYLA MONASTYRSKA __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH CHINESE SOPRANO HUI HE __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • PIANIST JAMES LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month