Elgar, Violin Concerto, N. Znaider, Staatskapelle Dresden, C. Davis
(released on January 5, 2010)
Sony Red Seal 88697 60588 2
These concerts also marked the return of former NSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin, who has not stood on a podium since a heart attack two months ago, suffered while conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Slatkin, looking trim and lively after some rehabilitation and treatment that reportedly helped him lose weight and recalibrate his life style, was greeted with a rousing ovation. Seemingly invigorated, he dove into the Elgar concerto, giving the orchestral introduction to the first movement remarkable energy and forcefulness. The Danish violinist, by contrast, delicately pulled apart the solo's many threads, at his best playing the lonely and fragile melodies (often inspired by Elgar's muse du jour, Alice Stuart-Wortley, under the name of "Windflower," a wild blossom pictured at left) that are the concerto's loveliest parts. Slatkin was on his game throughout the work, his baton right with Znaider's every whim, and for the most part the NSO was, too. This Guarnerius is not a power instrument, at least in Znaider's hands, and was most luscious in the second movement, as evanescent tone evaporated at the ends of soaring phrases over a diaphanous veil of orchestral sound. The fireworks were mostly on the money, too, especially the well-tuned multiple stops of the third movement, although Znaider seemed sometimes to have to force the instrument to project.
Tim Smith, Slatkin, Znaider, National Symphony hit expressive peaks in Elgar concerto (Baltimore Sun, January 8)
Anne Midgette, Leonard Slatkin returns to conduct National Symphony Orchestra's Elgar concerto (Washington Post, January 8)
---, Nikolaj Znaider plays Elgar's violin concerto 100 years after Kreisler premiere (Washington Post, January 7)
Jeremy Eichler, Straight from the source (Boston Globe, January 1)
This program repeats tonight, at 8 pm in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
Jessica Duchen and Bob Shingleton have another theory about Elgar's mysterious dedications in the Violin Concerto and the Enigma Variations.