MADISON, Wis. - It isn't often that you find a featured soloist for the Madison Symphony Orchestra featured in a “The New Yorker” profile.
But in the famed magazine's April 9 issue, Augustin Hadelich, who is featured in this weekend's MSO concerts, takes up two full pages.
The profile deals with the renewal of the Detroit Symphony but contains at least one passage all of us can take to heart:
“In the past decade, he has entered the upper echelon of the violin world. . . Yet he still spends much of the year traveling to orchestras across America, revisiting cities where he received early attention: San Diego, Milwaukee, Madison, Forth Worth.
“Some of my friends in Europe. or even in New York, are still quite snobby and don't know how really good these orchestras are,” he said.
In Madison's case, there were two really good orchestras that gave Hadelich a start.
He performed with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in 2009 and with the MSO in 2012 and again in 2013.
And he's back this weekend.
Hadelich, who turned 34 on April 4 (which means he was at the very beginning of his entry to the “upper echelon of the violin world” when he played with the WCO) is performing Antonin Dvorak's “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” at this weekend's concerts.
He was greeted with almost rapturous applause at Friday's performance.
Hadelich's violin, a 1723 Stradivarius, seems more an extension of the musician than a separate entity and its tone seems virtually vocal as Hadelich coaxes it through the repertoire.
The program begins with Benjamin Britten's “Sinfonia da Requiem,” which he composed for a Japanese festival in 1940, only to see his work rejected the piece as too gloomy and too Christian.
I'd agree with them on the “gloomy” part. My wife, who likes Britten, thought the whole piece was great.
The concluding symphony is Robert Schumann's “Symphony No. 1 in B flat,” or the “Spring” symphony.
Conductor John DeMain in an unusual gesture, took the stage before conducting the piece and explained “I just wanted you to know I waited years to program 'The Spring' at the appropriate time of the year.”
The audience, thinking of the weather forecast of freezing rain and snow for the weekend, applauded.
One more thing. This goes back to Hadelich's belief that the Midwest has some “really good” orchestras: This weekend marks the last performances of the MSO's bass trombone player, J. Michael Allsen, who has been with the symphony since 1983.
Allsen is a music professor at the UW-Whitewater and also writes the symphony's program notes (which is why I know that Japan rejected Britten's “Sinfonia.” Allsen is retiring from playing, but will continue the program notes.
Sometimes when we review symphony performances we tend to pay attention to the soloist and think of the orchestra as something of background accompaniment. That's just not so. The orchestra and the soloist are of a piece and bring out the best in one another.
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