Review: Jackiw and Slatkin triumph with Beethoven in Dublin
By Michael Roddy
There will be plenty of Beethoven on the musical menu for his 250th birthday year, but the Dublin audience for American violinist Stefan Jackiw’s performance of the Violin Concerto with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin may well expect to hear nothing better. The pairing of the 35-year-old Jackiw with the 75-year-old Slatkin was one of those musical marriages made in heaven, and the NSO rose to the occasion with one of the best performances I’ve heard in the National Concert Hall.
From the opening five-note drumbeat that kicks off Beethoven’s tour de force, to the rousing Rondo that ends it, Jackiw and Slatkin were perfect partners. The young American is a master at turning out notes of laser-like accuracy and pristine clarity. His playing in the first movement seemed a bit cool at first, but that may be his way of setting up his audience for the breathtaking beauty of the cadenza. Jackiw seemed almost to have four hands as he dug deep to explore every facet, taking his listeners on a musical journey that was at once based on everything that had gone before, yet somehow sublimely different. It was almost a surprise to hear the orchestra softly returning at the cadenza’s end, to bring us back to earth.