Symphony in C
Agustin Hadelich, violin
Rossen Milanov, conductor
Gordon Theater, Rutgers-Camden
Conductor Rossen Milanov is a specialist in 20th century Eastern European and Russian rep symphonic classics, but outside of Tchaikovsky, he has not programmed much from the romantic era, but he closed out Symphony in C’s 13-14 season with a thrilling performance of romantic works – Robert Schumann Manfred Overture (1849), Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (1864) and Brahms orchestral version of the Piano Quintet op. 25 (1861)- that could bring accusations that he‘s been holding out on us.
Even though the Gordon Theater wasn’t completely full, there was without doubt a sense of musical occasion in the air for the second appearance of Agustin Hadelich the 30 year old violin virtuoso, and that is a deserved tag, as he put his imprimatur immediately on Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Just a few bars of orchestral intro and Hadelich essays a commanding, unfussy entrance, his attack meticulous. The integral elements of the piece, seasoned control, instantly present as well as passionate playing.
But first the Manfred and Schumann was bloomed as more than a warm-up piece, showcasing the orchestra’s detailing and thrust.
Hadelich is technically hot in delivering the fine-line dimensions of this masterpiece and his crafting of the work as a whole is masterful. The cadenza sections couldn’t have been more reflective of the dimensions and ideas of Mendelssohn. The orchestra to an extend played second fiddle, not that he was upstaging, he just was that good. Meanwhile, Milanov had them razor sharp and equalized for every orchestral overlay and handoff. Beautiful structural support. The Mendelssohn was in the rank of Stern and Perelman, and in certain ways, perhaps even better. The tempos were quick, there was more tone weight in some of the more lyrical lines.
At the end the audience took a second then started bounding to their feet. Three calls for Mr. Hadelich and he returned and played the technically fiendish Paganini Capriccio no. 5; many in the string section didn’t take their eyes of his fingering. At the end another SO. People will be talking about this performance as in ’were you there the night.’
The closer, Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quintet in G minor, op. 25, transcribed for orchestra by Arnold Schoenberg in 1937, is so brilliantly played by this orchestra, you can easily believe they have been refining their performance for decades. It amply demonstrates the technical acumen of Symphony in C. and the clarity of Milanov’s musical directorship, since this is a professional training ground and young musician move on to other orchestras.
The vibrant horns in the rondo with engulfing burnished fanfares overtaking Brahms’ mannered theme, then the full gallop of the orchestra led by concertmaster Hannah Ji, with those dervish violin lines. Milanov’s conductor circle cello, violins bringing a crystalline lush salon enclave. Milanov lets the full orchestral passages reach sonic proportions, but with translucence. Also excellent oboist Rita Mites, and lead flutist Megan Emigh. This program shows this orchestra’s ensemble clarity and passion at its best.