Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

German violinist dazzles with technical precision

  • Print

 M stands for March, Mahler, Mendelssohn, musicians and even maestro Alexander Mickelthwate. All of the above were on the bill Friday night when the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra performed its latest concert of its — you guessed — Masterworks series.

The program led by Mickelthwate featured dynamo German violinist Augustin Hadelich performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, one of the cornerstones in the violin repertoire fondly dubbed the "heart's jewel." But make no mistake, the three-movement work is no sentimental walk in the park; instead, its three relentlessly driving movements teem with nail-biting technical feats that could easily topple lesser artists.



Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Masterworks

Mendelssohn and Mahler

Friday, March 14

Centennial Concert Hall

Attendance: 1,042

(Four and a half stars out of five)

Fortunately, we were in very good hands with the German soloist, 29, who has transcended his own daunting life challenges, including a catastrophic fire as a young teen that nearly destroyed his fledgling career. The virtuoso musician -- having successfully recovered -- now maintains an active concert career, with recent dates including the Buffalo Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, among others.

Hadelich immediately launched into the first movement Allegro molto appassionata with pitch perfect intonation and clear phrasing. He dazzled with sheer bravura, effortlessly whipping off technical runs and furious trills that became part of his overall sonic palette.

The second movement Andante displayed his lighter, sweet tone, with the fully engaged violinist joining the orchestra as though in thoughtful, contemplative dialogue. He instilled such playfulness in the finale Allegretto non troppo, merrily tossing off runs on a single up-bow, you could not help but feel his pure joy at music-making.

After receiving a spontaneous standing ovation, the charismatic player treated us to an encore: Paganini's Caprice No. 5, that elicited an audible "wow" from a suitably impressed audience member. Even the orchestra applauded -- especially the equally impressed violin section.

The WSO appears to be sifting through its treasure trove these days to resurrect seldom-performed works. Last performed here in 1990 with guest soprano Henriette Schellenberg (Bramwell Tovey, conducting), Mahler's Symphony No. 4 in G Major is one of the revered composer's most accessible works, compact both in orchestral forces and idiomatic musical language.

The maestro set a relaxed tempo in the first movement Bed§chtig that begins with its signature sleigh bell theme. At first this threatened to sap the piece's momentum: however, Mickelthwate proceeded to show us his intention, allowing the music to ebb and flow as individual wind players were highlighted, slowly building in strength.

The scherzo featured concertmaster Gwen Hoebig soloing on a second violin tuned one tone higher -- the bane of any musician with perfect pitch -- as the "Freund Hein" death figure rears its menacing, skeletal head. No matter how many times one hears this work (and we've been waiting since 1990), the effect is always startling and wholly Mahler-esque.

The third movement Ruhevoll unfolds as a smoothly flowing set of variations that alternate between string and wind sonorities.

The hallmark of this work, of course, is its finale Sehr behaglich, with Winnipeg-based soprano Monica Huisman taking the stage. The popular singer performed the song depicting heaven with eloquent simplicity, her own warm voice rising as though in the company of angels.

The concert repeats tonight at 8 p.m. at the Centennial Concert Hall, with a Sunday matinee set for Brandon's Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium at 3 p.m.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2014 A19

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up: Farmer's Carry

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google