Young violinist wows at Mountains concert

Arts & Entertainment

Young violinist wows at Mountains concert

Dmitri Berlinsky takes a cue from conductor Guillermo Figueroa during his solo Sunday on Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the disappointment that neither violinist Vadim Gluzman nor Philippe Quint are playing at this season’s Music in the Mountains. But Dmitri Berlinsky, who played at Sunday’s concert, made the disappointment disappear.

The youngest winner ever of the Paganini International Violin Competition in Genoa, Italy, he drew some of the sweetest sounds ever heard on a violin from his 1759 Carlos Ferdinand Landolfi. Berlinsky, one of a handful of artists who has been allowed to perform on Nicolo Paganini’s own Guarneri del Gesù violin, performed Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 64.

Some violinists have great technique, others great musicality. Berlinsky is one of a handful who possesses both. Perhaps the red lining peeking out from his black shirt is a metaphor for Berlinsky as musician, whose entire demeanor changed as he became one with the music.

The Mendelssohn was a last-minute substitution for the originally programmed Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 19.

It’s rare for an orchestra’s librarian to receive a “shout-out,” but Katie Smith scrambled to get the scores for the Mendelssohn, arranging loans from the San Juan Symphony and Fort Lewis College.

Musical Director and Conductor Guillermo Figueroa clearly loves both Ludwig van Beethoven and his Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36, which constituted the first half of the concert. Figueroa spoke at length about Beethoven’s despair at losing his hearing, which he wrote about in his Heilingenstadt Testament, a letter to his brothers:

“How could I possibly admit an infirmity in the one sense which ought to be more perfect in me than in other people, a sense I once possessed in the highest perfection?”

The letter is particularly significant because at the same time he was writing it, he was composing his second symphony, a singularly beautiful piece of music. Though not as well-known as his fifth and ninth symphonies, at the time it was debuted, critics saw it as a foretelling of a revolutionary career.

The Music in the Mountains orchestra did it justice, with Figueroa conducting every note with exquisite care. Audience members were overheard using words such as “breathtaking,” “exquisite” and “unforgettable.”

The concert ended with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34. The capriccio’s five movements are composed around five Spanish themes, with opportunities for several of the orchestra’s first chairs to showcase their talent.

Rimsky-Korsakov actually dedicated the piece to the orchestra that premiered it, and it’s clear the piece is as much fun for them to play as it is for the audience to hear.

Now, anticipation is high to see what wonders violinist Ida Kavafian will bring to the stage Sunday at the Community Concert Hall.

Orchestra brings crowd to its feet

It wasn’t just Samson who brought down the roof. On Saturday, at the Festival Tent at Durango Mountain Resort, the Music in the Mountains orchestra pulled the audience to its feet after an utterly splendid performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Bacchanale from “Samson et Dalila.” It was the first concert of the 26th season.
Oboist Erin Hannigan transported the audience to a Middle Eastern bazaar with a melody better known to modern pop culture fans as the snake charmer’s song from Bugs Bunny cartoons, and the four-man percussion section drove the wild pace.
The entire second half of the concert was a showcase for the orchestra. It’s always remarkable that Maestro Guillermo Figueroa melds together musicians from more than 20 symphonies from around the nation to create the festival orchestra, but to hear them perform so well on the first concert out of the gate is even more impressive.
The second half began with Darius Milhaud’s “Le boeuf sur le toit” or “The ox on the roof.” Inspired by his time in Brazil, Milhaud’s piece contains snippets of tango, samba, maxixa and fado from 23 Brazilian composers – whether it’s plagiarism or homage is in the eye of the beholder – and constantly changes tempo and key. At times, different sections are playing in different keys at the same time. It takes a conductor in complete control to pull off, and Figueroa never missed a beat or a transition.
The first half featured Music in the Mountains Artistic Director Gregory Hustis as the soloist on Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4 in E-flat, K. 495. In a rare misstep, apparently struggling with the heat, he made several errors.
About 30 concertgoers attended Fort Lewis College Professor Emerita Linda Mack’s pre-concert lecture. In a witty and informative talk, she explained everything from basic notation to the history of the pieces on the program, leaving everyone better prepared to enjoy and understand the music.
Mack will be offering her final free pre-concert lecture of the season at 4:15 p.m. Saturday at the Durango Mountain Club at DMR.

Review & Preview

“Elegance and Excitement!”, featuring Gregory Hustis, horn, Saturday, July 14 at Durango Mountain Resort.
“Tour de Force,” featuring Dmitri Berlinsky, violin, Sunday, July 15 at Durango Mountain Resort.
Today: Family Festivo, free concert and storytelling, 11 a.m., Rotary Park.
Tuesday: Next Generation II, Conservatory Young Artists Competition, 7:30 p.m., $10-$18, Roshong Recital Hall at FLC.
Wednesday: Pops Night benefit dinner with vocalist Steve Lippia, 5:30 p.m., $150, Festival Tent at Purgatory at DMR.
Wednesday: Next Generation III, Conservatory Young Artists Competition, 7:30 p.m., $10-$18, Roshong Recital Hall at FLC.
Thursday: “Bach’s Gift,” chamber concert, 7 p.m., $20-$39, St. Columba Catholic Church, 1801 East Third Ave.

Young violinist wows at Mountains concert

Dmitri Berlinsky takes a cue from conductor Guillermo Figueroa during his solo Sunday on Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor.
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