QSO & Maxim Vengerov
QPAC, Concert Hall
There are few classical musicians in the world today that reign as supreme as Russian-born Israeli violinist Maxim Vengerov, which was certainly evident in his Brisbane exclusive performance both with and conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
From the opening moments of the exceptional musical event the violin virtuoso has the audience in absolute silence as he presents Bach’s magnificent, complex ‘Chaconne (for solo violin)’.The work, widely regarded as the pinnacle of the solo violin repertoire thanks to its technical challenge and showcase of the full range of the instrument’s expressive capacities, represents a rare privilege for audiences to listen to a 15 minute violin solo without an orchestra, incorporating every aspect of violin technique known during Bach’s time. And Vengerov certainly does its structural perfection justice in presentation of a powerful, energetic and emotional encapsulation of a work written by Bach after the death of his wife to represent the entirety of life’s circle.
Then comes the orchestra for presentation (for only the third time in history) of the original version of Sibelius’ ‘Violin Concerto’, beginning with the lightest of touches from the orchestra’s violinists and avalanching through the extremes of energetic, animated emotion to input from the full force of the strings section in announcement of the work’s second movement. The result is a sweeping symphony featuring solo violin in equal voice to stir audiences to not only rapturous applause but a mid-show standing ovation and four pre-intermission curtain calls.
When Vengerov takes the baton from Nicholas Carter to conduct Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique’, he is just as energetic as he is with a violin bow. Indeed, it is enchanting to watch when glimpse is caught of his use of baton to set the tempo and unify the performers. And it is indeed fitting that the work’s first movement showcases the delicate skill of those in the strings section, before moving on to the use of divine harps, playful oboes, pizzicato double basses and resounding drums.
Fittingly for a musical event of international significance, the encores could have gone on all night. Vengerov has a seamless technique, perfect intonation and is faultless in his performance. As well he should – with the perfect pedigree of two musician parents, he began learning at four, and by the time he was 10 the prodigy was touring abroad and winning international competitions. To have such as stellar music-maker presenting a compelling display of this calibre to an awed Brisbane audience of young and old alike, makes for a world-class conclusion to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 season and aficionados can only but look forward to his return visit to perform his signature concerto: Tchaikovsky’s timeless, most personal and poignant, Violin Concerto in the QSO’s 2016 season finale.