At Mostly Mozart, a Self-Effacing Magnetism

08.21.16
Alexi Kenney
The New York Times

A perfect table, a cabinetmaker once told me, isn’t one that draws attention to itself: It just makes the rest of the room feel right. A similar thought came to me at David Geffen Hall on Saturday during an exquisite performance of Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Mostly Mozart Festival when the soprano Joélle Harvey began to sing. 

A rising star, surely, is Alexi Kenney, an acutely musical and technically unassailable young American violinist who gave a solo recital ahead of Tuesday evening’s concert. The poorly attended event lasted less than 30 minutes. But that was time enough for Mr. Kenney to offer a spellbinding, thoroughly honest performance that revealed his architect’s eye for structure and space and a tone that ranges from the achingly fragile to full-bodied robustness.

Mr. Kenney performed a “Fantasia” by the baroque composer Nicola Matteis that consists entirely of broken up chords, a filigree meditation by Kaija Saariaho called “Nocturne,” and the Chaconne from Bach’s second Partita for solo violin. David Geffen Hall is an inhospitable place for music of such delicacy, but Mr. Kenney’s playing transcended the hall’s limitations. He is a talent to watch.