Review: Florida Orchestra and Simone Porter thrill with Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto

04.02.16
Simone Porter
Tampa Bay Times

There is no warmup, no throat clearing, in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. The orchestra plays a measure and a half of articulated chords, and the violinist dives right into the heart of things. 

As Simone Porter performed it Friday night with the Florida Orchestra at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, her resolve was unmistakable. I will tell you my story, she seemed to say. It will be a story both heroic and sad, noble and poignant. And all this, through the Romantic expressiveness of her playing, she made clear in just the first musical sentences.

It was a thrilling performance. Porter displayed an emotional depth that might seem surprising in someone so young. (She is 19, and from Seattle.) None of it was forced or mannered, just a channeling of the passionate possibilities of Mendelssohn's music.

Her technique, too, was something to behold. Besides the shaping of musical phrases, the violinist must navigate bravura passages of rapid fingering, double stops and exquisite ornamentation. The second movement, which is slightly slower, requires a pure and inviting tone that Porter translated into keening desire.
 
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