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NJSO—Hadelich & König---Fit for a King
by Sherri Rase      |   follow us...

   
photo by Luca Valenta, courtesy of NJSO
violinist Augustin Hadelich
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Conductor Christoph König and virtuouso violinist Augustin Hadelich gave a pre-election one-two punch concert with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), from November 1 through 4, in a dazzling display of classical fireworks. König got his start as a guest conductor several years ago with the NJSO and had glowing words for the professionalism and talent of our favorite orchestra. “We have less than a week of rehearsal,” König said in a pre-concert Accent Event, “and they always deliver.” Hadelich and König, in the pre-concert Classical Conversation with Patrick Chamberlain, prior to Sunday’s performance, gave us great insight into the works they would present and the virtuosity required to make it happen, giving us even greater appreciation during the concert.
Beginning with Richard Strauss’ tone poem “Don Juan,” Opus 20, we had a thrilling opening to the afternoon’s works. Familiar and with just enough to buckle your swashes, and knowing that the twenty-something Strauss was writing this while courting the woman he would eventually marry, makes the swagger even more delicious. Strauss had moves like Jagger before Jagger and it’s no wonder soprano Pauline de Anha said “yes!”—as did the critics and public who saw this, rightly so, as the launch to Strauss’ career. Watching König make conducting a full-body sport as he exhorted and drew the orchestra, bending them to his will, was as much fun as seeing his smile when they hit the mark, again and again and again.
Hadelich’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto, Opus 15 was one for the ages. Hadelich’s active stance made him looked like he was being magnetically drawn toward König and the orchestra, as one would be to a lodestone. Yet, while he was planted like Gibraltar, the music flowed organically through his hands, rippling like silk over the strings, as he wrung every last bit of modern harmony and flash from the piece. Like juice from a ripe Summer peach, music spilled and flowed organically from his hands, Orpheus playing his way from the Underworld. In the Moderato con moto, the music darts and croons, sighs and swoons, drawing us in to the Vivace moves like laughter, or the passage of time, with energy so passionate that you’ll find yourself humming—the solo line revels in Britten’s penchant for writing voice–this time the timbre of the violin, but so irresistible it takes us along. The Passacaglia, one of my favorite forms, moved with shimmer through assonance and dissonance like post-modern existential thought made tangible. The audience, giving a standing ovation, was not yet willing to let the young artist go, and Hadelich graced us with a transcription of Bach’s second Partita, and surfeited, we went into the break.
Robert Schumann’s Symphony Number Three in E-flat Major, the “Rhenish,” was up next. The bold, striding opening took us from the sunny relative lightness of the Strauss and Britten, lacing up our hiking shoes for a Teutonic perambulation that was a bit heavier than what had gone before. The vibrant vigor of the Lebhaft movement segued to the Scherzo: sehr mässig (very moderately) with a return to a bold, stately flow, Rhenish being of the Rhine, of course, and was intended as a rolling boat ride on a beautiful day–imagine the soundtrack for Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” if they were German rather than French. Nicht schnell became contemplative that further deepens in Feierlich. Yet our end is our beginning with the final Lebhaft movement where happiness returns. Watching König again pursue full-on corporeal conducting, the physical endeavor of creating beauty becomes most real. The orchestral wall of sound in this piece can sometimes make it hard to follow the thread of the piece but in the hands of a world class conductor at the helm of a world class orchestra, it is symphonic magic.
The season is just beginning, so visit www.njsymphony.org now! Get the best seats now for “Messiah” and for the Winter Festival coming up in January 2019–experiences that make the best holiday gifts.



 

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