Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja Makes US Debut with Boston Philharmonic, Now thru 11/24
On rare occasions, a musician will perform with such force and spirit that you sit up straighter, lean a little closer and in an instant realize that something extraordinary is happening. Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja is that kind of grab-your-soul performer. She makes her major US debut with conductor Benjamin Zander leading the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (www.bostonphil.org) tonight, November 21.
Concerts: Tonight, November 21, 7:30PM / Sanders Theatre, Cambridge Friday, November 22, 8:00PM / Mechanics Hall, Worcester Saturday, November 23, 8:00PM / Jordan Hall, Boston Sunday, November 24, 3:00PM / Sanders Theatre, Cambridge.
An acknowledged megawatt star abroad, the 36-year-old Kopatchinskaja arrives in Boston as the hottest property in classical music, having won the coveted 2013 Gramophone Record of the Year with her Naive CD of concertos by Hungarian composers Bartok, Ligeti and Eotvos. For the concert, Kopatchinskaja will perform the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2, one of the standout pieces that netted her the Gramophone award. Bookending the program are two works that complement the Bartok concerto, Brahms' Symphony No. 2 and Weber's Overture to der Freischu?tz.
"What's astonishing about Kopatchinskaja is her intensity and virtuosity coupled with an absolute freedom and courage," says Zander. "Her music just comes at you in 3D. She is unpredictable but incredibly disciplined, with an expressive power that makes you feel as if you never heard the piece before."
Kopatchinskaja's combination of technical brilliance and explosive aural imagination find perfect expression in the work of Barto?k, whose music reflects a great intellect and a soaring spirit. They share a background steeped in the tradition of European folk songs-Kopatchinskaja's parents are popular folk musicians-and an appreciation of the past filtered though a modern sensibility. The violinist has said: "The Eastern European folklore is my blood, contemporary music is the air I breathe and classical music is the skeleton which holds all this together."
"I can't wait to play with her," says Zander, who was unfamiliar with her work until a colleague called to say he had just heard the most amazing violinist. "I listened to everything I could and woke up at 4 AM knowing I had to book her immediately. I have not been so excited to present an artist since I introduced Yo-Yo Ma to Boston when he was in his 20s. A talent like this comes along only once or twice in a lifetime."
"She plays as if she just composed the piece," he continues. "The color, the rhythmic incisiveness and the creativity that she shows in shaping every phrase transform Bartok's music into something that is both true and new. The concerto is the single most difficult piece for an orchestra to accompany in the standard classical repertoire, so the entire evening promises to be exhilarating."
The concert will open with the beautifully haunting Weber overture, a grand and romantic piece too infrequently performed in the US. Brahms-another composer greatly influenced by folk music-will follow Barto?k. "The Second Symphony shows the warmhearted, engaging side of Brahms," Zander explains. "I plan to use a lot of rubato, reinforcing the free spirit that will be afoot with Kopatchinskaja on the program."