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Guest Violinist Conjures Romance

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Apr 28, 2001 - 8:31:37 PM in archives

(first published in The Cincinnati Post April 28, 2001)

Friday morning's Cincinnati Symphony concert at Music Hall was all about love.

Making hearts flutter in Bruch's romantic Violin Concerto in G Minor was guest artist Jaime Laredo. On a more spiritual level, music director Jesús López-Cobos took his listeners on one more trip to the mountaintop in Bruckner's great, unfinished Symphony No. 9.

Laredo - who returns to conduct a CSO chamber series in June - pumped new life into the Bruch. Often faded by overexposure, the familiar work glowed with ardor under his fingers, from the dramatic opening on the violin's lowest string to the diamond-bright virtuosics of the finale. The slow moment was like a big love scene, Laredo indulging in slurpy slides between notes and waxing ravishingly sweet in the violin's high register.

Leader of his own chamber trio (the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio), Laredo brought that experience to the concerto.

Fully abetted by López-Cobos, he engaged in transparent dialogue with the CSO, whose accompanying voices always shone through (kudos to French hornist Thomas Sherwood). Concurrently, he put on a brilliant show himself, with spectacular octaves interpolated in the transition between first and second movements (a touch he picked up from violin great Nathan Milstein, he said).

López-Cobos is celebrated for his Bruckner symphonies, especially the Ninth, which he laid out block by block, arch by arch. Conducting from memory, he built the first movement to a magnificent climax, buttressed by gleaming CSO brasses. The tramp, tramp of the Scherzo had an inexorable quality, ending in a remorseless, clear cut shaft of sound.

The valedictory Adagio was something sublime. The yearning long line of the opening conjured the soul's ascension, the big buildup before the end, with its huge dissonant cutoff, the pain of farewell. The soft, murmuring of the violins at the end spoke of peace and benediction.

López-Cobos ends his 15 years with the CSO May 12. Don't miss his final concerts. Tonight's repeat is at 8 p.m. at Music Hall.