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Listening to the apparently endless parade of expert, teenage violinists passing through our concert halls, you'd be hard-pressed to find one with a more consistently beautiful sound than 19-year-old Stefan Jackiw. His reading of Saint-Saens's Violin Concerto No. 3, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore on Thursday, was marked by elegance, a supple, singing line and a liquid tone that never hardened, even in the score's bravura passages.
This was gorgeous playing -- from the spot-on precision in the first movement's stratospheric high notes through the poise and nobility imbuing the swaggering finale. If Jackiw's performance was more laid-back and objective than emotionally invested, his playing provided enough ear candy to satisfy. The BSO proved a suitably suave partner, with conductor Yuri Temirkanov coaxing silken playing from the strings and subtly blended chording from the winds.
The orchestra was more extroverted in Franck's Symphony in D Minor. It's a piece that suits Temirkanov's temperament well -- or, rather, the conductor shaped the score successfully to his will. In Temirkanov's hands, this might have been a lost work by Tchaikovsky or Glazunov, so Russian was the surge of the phrasing, the crush of the climaxes, the cut-and-thrust in the brass playing, the soulfulness in the violins and lower winds. But in this least overtly French of French symphonies, his pulse-quickening, Slavic approach worked to exciting effect.