Friday, January 18, 2013

Sibelius Violin Concerto: Tobias Feldman with the Utah Symphony

I took my mom to the symphony on Friday.  My mom, the one who wanted me to be a violinist? Remember?  

We braved a snowstorm and slick roads so I could see one of my favorite violin concertos, the Sibelius.  After the overture, this boy, no kidding, walks on stage.  Although in his early twenties, Tobias Feldman could have easily been mistaken for one of my daughter's high school friends.  His playing, however, was nothing like your typical high school student.  

I know the Sibelius Violin Concerto inside and out.  Not because I've ever played it mind you (wishing that I could play it doesn't count), but because it is one of my two top favorite violin concertos of all times.  I have listened to it a million times over.  I know every nuance, entrance, cadenza, and orchestration.  So I was slightly shocked near the opening when the first harmonic didn't ring true, a few of the double stops seemed rough,  and the orchestra didn't play with the energy deserving this concerto.  

But then it was as if they all took a deep breath and dug in.  Never did I notice anything but sheer virtuosity after that.  What beautiful playing by all parties.  As a matter of fact, we, the audience, broke with tradition and clapped after the first movement, a definite no no, but we felt the beauty of the playing.  Tobias graciously nodded to the audience but appeared surprised at the interuption.  The passion and the pain of Sibelius's personal struggles are apparent throughout,  and the tensions between the orchestra and violinist in the third movement were played out perfectly. 

Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the guest conductor, Gilbert Varga.  Mom and I both noted his perfectly white hair and impeccably pressed tuxedo.  He conducted the last to pieces, a dance by Kadaly and then a rhapsody by Enescu, without a score in front of him.  He was  a joy to watch.  He had fun with the musicians and made these two pieces, which I had never heard, delightful to listen to.  I must mention as I did in my post on Gershwin, how fabulous the clarinetist is! How often is it that someone sings the praises of a clarinetist twice in a row!

Gilbert Varga photographed by Felix Broede

Thank you Utah Symphony for making my evening out with my mom so enjoyable.  


  1. Wow. And what a sweet memory is yours because of your gift to Mother. Whoa. Unforgettable. Makes me miss my mom, too............

  2. This really does sound like a wonderful evening at the symphony. It's nice that you are so familiar with the piece that you get that much more pleasure out of it. I can't believe that violinist is in his twenties! He looks about twelve in that photo.


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