UTAH SYMPHONY, Abravanel Hall, May 24; second performance 8 p.m. May 25, tickets at 801-355-2787, 888-451-2787 or www.utahsymphony.org
Dvorak wrote three concertos, one each for the piano, violin and cello. Of the three, the one for cello is an unqualified masterwork that can hold its own with the cello concertos by Schumann and Elgar.
The piano concerto, however, is a different story. It has never been a favorite among pianists. It’s good, but not great.
The violin concerto, on the other hand, is somewhere between the two. Over the years it’s been heard in concert halls more frequently, although not too many violinists have it in their repertoire. Compositionally it’s not quite on the same level as the Beethoven and Brahms concertos, but it’s a worthy piece that deserves to be played.
The young German violinist Augustin Hadelich is making a welcome return visit to the Utah Symphony this weekend in the Dvorak concerto. Hadelich is a tremendously talented artist who made an impressive local debut in Bartók’s Second Concerto in February 2011.
At Friday’s performance he once again mesmerized the audience with his innate musicality, refined expressiveness and considerable technical acumen. Playing on the 1723 Ex Kiesewetter Stradivarius, Hadelich captured the passion of the opening movement, the serene beauty of the Adagio and the almost Mendelssohnian lightness of the finale.
There was also a wonderful connection between the 29-year-old soloist and the evening’s conductor, Utah Symphony associate conductor Vladimir Kulenovic. The two like minded musicians brought fine balance and a keen sense of collaborative music making to the performance.
Hadelich also treated the audience to an encore, a tour de force reading of the ninth of Paganini’s 24 Caprices for solo violin.
After intermission, Kulenovic, who is making his Masterworks’ debut this weekend, regaled the audience with a remarkably sensitive and thoughtful account of Brahms’ Second Symphony. One of the composer’s most reflective orchestral works, the Second lacks the excessive passions of most of his other works. The emotions here are more restrained and Kulenovic allowed that to work in his favor. His interpretation was nuanced and wonderfully expressive.
The evening opened with the second and third movements of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, op. 72.