A pair of elegant guests join the Oregon Symphony for polished Prokofiev and a fantastic 'Fantastique'

03.22.15
The Oregonian

In the concert hall, though, the music is the thing, as the Oregon Symphony's performance under the baton of Jun Märkl made brilliantly clear. Two years after his memorable OSO debut, Märkl again showed his dedication to clarity and sheer beauty of sound, underscoring Classical elegance in the first four movements before the mayhem of the finale. The superb violinist James Ehnes joined him and the orchestra for a complementary performance of Sergei Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto beforehand.

Most valuable player: Ehnes is among the greatest violinists currently playing, and if he's not as big a star as others, it may be because his presence is as subtly nuanced as his playing style. His tone in the Prokofiev was silvery but warm and soft, with sweet, swift bow strokes and effortless playing even in the hair-raising central Scherzo.

Moment of the night: Whether it was meant to commemorate J.S. Bach's 330th birthday (which was on Saturday, at least if you don't adjust for the conversion from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian), Ehnes' encore was a generous gift. In the Andante from Bach's Violin Sonata No. 2, which calls for the player to trace a poignant melody over a pulsing eighth-note line, Ehnes' counterpoint was uncanny. 

 

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