Violinist aces dual showpieces
Rising star violinist Augustin Hadelich surpassed expectations Thursday night in his Jones Hall debut with the Houston Symphony.

Instead of a concerto, Hadelich played two shorter showpieces in contrasting moods. It was an agreeable change from the customary format that demonstrated his impressive virtuosity and range.

Hadelich imbued Ernest Chausson's Poème for Violin and Orchestra with soulful lyricism, playing with beautiful tone and a sure, sustained quality of sound in each note and line. That steadiness, the intense concentration and his deft handling of such flourishes as the succession of ascending trills gave a cumulative force to this lovely, somewhat melancholy work. Under music director Hans Graf, the orchestra performed with a painstaking care and subtlety that supported and enhanced Hadelich's work.

Though Chausson's Poème calls for restraint and delicacy, Maurice Ravel's gypsy-tinged Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra invites a vigorous, muscular attack. Hadelich capitalized on its opportunities, bringing decisive force to each note and zestful drive to his phrasing. He brought off the many technical challenges with aplomb, as in the frequent bursts of rapid-fire pizzicato. Again, the orchestra's work melded ideally with Hadelich's artistry. By the closing stretch, as Hadelich dashed off intricate and ever-accelerating figures with feverish brilliance, the rendition exerted the kind of excitement that threatens to lift the listener right out of his seat.

Hadelich generously obliged the audience with an encore, Niccolo Paganini's Caprice No. 24, making each variation a dazzler with a distinctive character of its own.


Nominated for 2021 Grammy!

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