SPCO – Introducing Patricia Kopatchinskaja

So this is my first blog in a while. But after tonight’s concert, the first for Patricia Kopatchinskaja as an Artistic Partner for the SPCO, I had to share my thoughts. First things, if you don’t have tickets to the concert, check right now because there weren’t many left. Much of the same program will be played next week too.

Now Patricia Kopatchinskaja was a workhorse tonight.  She performed in each piece and was soloist in a number of them.  Not only that, but she changed from a more traditional black outfit, blending in with the musicians of the orchestra, to a red soloist dress during the 20 minute intermission.

For the first half of the program we had Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue.  During this piece, it seemed like Patricia Kopatchinskaja wasn’t a very animated player, but that was soon to be proven wrong.  The piece was very nicely played, and not particularly notable.

The second piece was Tigran Mansurian’s Concerto No. 2 for Violin and String Orchestra, Four Serious S0ngs.  During this piece Patricia Kopatchinskaja was director and played solo violin.  This is where I learned that she was very animated and played with great passion and gusto.  It was very interesting music which I enjoyed greatly.

The third piece, and last before intermission was Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok.  You can hear the folk music influence quite clearly, and this is fun music to listen to, in fact if you want to just listen to a recording in the SPCO listening library.  Some of the solo violin makes me think of Klezmer music.

After intermission the next piece was Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in D Minor (change in program order).  I don’t think I have heard this live before, and looking at their notes the SPCO last performed it in 1999, which is before I became a some what obsessive concert goer.  I really liked this piece and I though she played it really well.

The next piece Traditional Moldavian Folk music titled Rapsodia.  Patricia Kopatchinskaja described the program from the stage, and it consisted of three parts or songs.  The instrumentation for these parts were Patricia on violin, her mother Emilia Kopatchinskaja on violin and viola, her father Viktor Kopatchinsky on cimbalom (he also played cimbalom on the Bartok Dances), and Zachary Cohen on double bass (guest principal bass for SPCO this season).  Now for the first, it was described as being crazy, because at one point it was just her parents playing, and her father was playing the cimbalon (reminds me of a hammered dulcimer) really fast, while her mother was playing the viola really slow.  I think it was in this piece that mother and daughter were playing really close face to face, and it was great seeing that family and musical connection. The third part had the sitting string musicians (rest of the program was just strings with some solo violin and/or cimbalom) joining in with really high notes sounding kind of eerie.  That part was more fun to see them join in, than enjoyable.  But all three parts were great, and well received by the audience.  I would guess that this was a pretty knowledgeable crowd, one that would normally wait to applause at the end of all three parts, rather than in between, but they and I couldn’t help but show our appreciation after each piece.  Also her parents are amazing musicians in their own right, I can imagine family gatherings are full of music and joy.

We also got a world premiere surprise (not on program).  A piece for Ravel was arranged for solo violin, cimbalom, and strings, I assume for this concert and definitely for this family.  It started with a long section for solo violin, I think about 6 minutes before string and cimbalom joined in.  It was a nice piece but I enjoyed the Mendelssohn and folk based music better.

Overall, this was an outstanding concert, and I am looking forward to seeing her play with the SPCO again in March.  A couple of things I noticed about her playing, she plays barefoot, which isn’t that unusual, but she also gets so animated that she some times stomps her feet.  I think if I saw her perform up close, which sadly will not happen, that it could be distracting like Emmanuel Ax’s humming.

Here is a youtube clip of the family playing a part of Raspodia