"After more than 20 years on-stage, [Midori] isn't just her generation's most giving, selfless musical figure, spawning successful outreach programs on both coasts...She is also among its most generous performers, a fact that her recital Sunday at Walt Disney Concert Hall with pianist Charles Abramovic confirmed yet again...Midori throws herself into scores without ego, shaping informed but freeing interpretations that extract the pure spirit of composers...though she continues to enjoy more control over bow pressure, dynamics and articulation than nearly anyone, she now has the interpretive curiosity to make artful use of these gifts... This was immediately evident Sunday in her lively, intimate reading of Mozart's A-major Sonata, K.305, a long-lined interpretation made of small improvisatory moments that added playfulness and daring agility...Then, in the darker of Prokofiev's two violin sonatas, the F minor, she dug deeper, channeling a composer's haunting qualities, giving the silence between notes peculiar drama before exhaling a series of high, muted scales and hurling herself into stab attacks...Most memorable was her ability to create a memory space - to paint images of barren fields in the work's nostalgic third movement and let vocal phrases breathe...Midori then offered Schoenberg's Phantasy, a high-modern collection of erratic tone and articulation changes she pulled off - shifting on a dime from gliding artificial harmonics to stark declarations - as naturally as any 12-tone composer could desire. Hearing it was like listening to a midcentury architect speak passionately of his angles."
Los Angeles Times
"Midori has already established herself as one of the most important violinists of our time, a fierce and sensitive interpreter of the standard repertoire. But with her superb recital in Herbst Theatre on Thursday night - a demanding
and exhilarating program of music from the past quarter-century - she raised her stature even higher...This was more than simply an evening packed full of exciting music brilliantly played - though it was certainly that. It was also a demonstration of how an artist of the first rank goes about expanding her musical worldview... There was nothing either grudging or pro forma about Midori's reincarnation as a new-music performer. Her program ... offered a consistent stylistic thread, and she performed it all with the same intelligence and rhythmic gusto that she brings to more familiar fare...The effect was to make a case for the continuity of music history, and to demonstrate that the same skills that a great performer brings to Brahms can be applied equally well to the music of Witold Lutoslawski or Isang Yun..."
San Francisco Chronicle
"...Midori, the star violinist whom Philadelphia Orchestra subscribers know mostly for works like the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto...[has] made a concerted commitment to new music of late, culminating with this program of works written between 1979 and 2000...They form an unusually satisfying whole, to which Midori brings the charisma she gives to Tchaikovsky. That, and her superb pianist, Robert McDonald, made the concert more successful than you could hope for...The miniature pieces on the program posed the greatest challenges...and were performed most imaginatively...Judith Weir's Music for 247 Strings...isn't deep, but Midori made it delightful...The greater challenge lay in Gyorgy Kurtag's Three Pieces for Violin and Piano, which asks the performer to find worlds of expression in short movements built on very few notes. Clearly, Midori had given the piece much consideration, thoughtfully creating sounds that shift between foreground and background. There was no barrier between this supposedly difficult but marvelously pared-down music and any alert listener...[in] the 1991 Violin Sonata of the late Korean composer Isang Yun...the peaks and valleys were in her hands, and she molded them with the kind of drama and passion that explain why, in the recording world, Yun is paired with Brahms."
Philadelphia Inquirer
" overwhelmingly passionate but utterly sincere performance of the Elgar Concerto. Phrasing and rubato were ripe, and though every member of the LSO seemed swept up by the music, control was absolute, balance immaculate. Midori's entry, a cry of pain interrupting the horn's dying fall, was heart-stopping. For all her eloquent command of nuance, her tone - noble, without false glamour - remained unsullied. This was an interpretation of complete dedication to the score...I will never hear a greater performance of this greatest of violin concertos."
The Evening Standard
"In the ever-changing violin world, where new soloists explode on the scene and can be forgotten just a few years later, one constant for 25 years has been the dependably polished, engaging playing of Midori. The violinist was in superb form Friday evening as she joined the Colorado Symphony as soloist in Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35...This devilishly challenging work, with all its high-flying pyrotechnics, is generally considered a virtuosic showpiece, and Midori didn't shirk from that aspect of the concerto in the least, dashing through the finale at an impressively breakneck speed. But the word that kept coming to mind to describe her interpretation is one not typically associated with this piece: spellbinding. Right from her seductive entrance in the first movement, she seemed most intent on telling a story, finding meaning in each phrase. There are many wonderful aspects to Midori's playing, such as her voluptuous tone, notably her pleasingly oaken low notes. But what really stood out Friday evening was her expressive, very personal style of phrasing..."
The Denver Post
"Many soloists today have masterly technique, but few conjure such searing intensity seemingly out of nowhere. Midori plays not on top of the strings but deeply inside them, pulling the sound out so vigorously that the entire violin sometimes protests with an audible nasal buzz. There was something thrilling in hearing that buzz on Saturday night. It meant that a supremely well-made instrument was being played at the very edge of its envelope and that the performer had chosen sonic expressiveness over safe and unblemished tonal beauty"
The New York Times
"...she is doing exactly what great artists are born to do, marshaling her formidable gifts and daring to push herself further and further into the deepest heart of the music at hand. The sense of risk-taking and rethinking every bar of a work she has played countless times was evident from the first bars of the Sibelius concerto...Against this background, Midori entered like a supernatural creature, her plaintive melody as focused and delicately spun as optic fiber, its simple outlines carrying hints of dark lament and barely suppressed wildness."
Chicago Sun-Times
"...her spitfire energy excitingly takes command...this young violinist is not only a formidable technician, but also a musician who knows what she wants to say with every note."
Financial Times
"Midori and her violin filled the dark, passionate melodies of the Sibelius Concerto in D Minor with rich, gutsy sound. In low passages, her tone has such a strong core, it almost sounds like a wind instrument - a clarinet or even a trumpet...the Sibelius is full of romantic flourishes, which Midori presented in bravura performance. But she was also extraordinarily moving in the softer, simpler moments..."
St. Paul Pioneer Press
"If last night had been just a concert, with no other significance or purpose, Midori's performance of Chausson's Poème would have been the intellectual highlight. It is music of Wagnerian import cast in the elusiveness of French harmony; it wanders, meanders, makes statements and retracts them. It is passionate music that avoids clarity. She played it with spectacular tone and clear-sightedness. It was the musical high point, superseded only by her magnificent rendition of the Bach Chaconne from the Partita No.2."
The Washington Post
"Midori, who will pair up again with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for the tour, is exactly that [consistently great]. In the Shostakovich she quickly fell into crisp form. Long a champion of this work, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Her steps were uncomplicated and deliberate; her notes clear and perfectly placed. Her cadenza personified suspense. Most impressive was her thick tone on the highest strings, banishing the shrill tendencies of Shostakovich and inviting the audience in."
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
"Yes, it was, on paper, the same Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto that has been played a trillion times or more since its premiere in 1881. But it wasn't really the same work at all. The notes took on new coloring, new intensity, new depth in a memorable performance featuring Midori with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and music director Yuri Temirkanov...This startling sense of freshness was sensed the moment Midori began to sculpt the violin's initial entrance...Midori turned the passage into an arresting monologue that, despite its brevity, spoke volumes about the essence of musical romanticism. With a remarkable variety of tone quality and dynamics, she established the violin as the heroic, yet somehow self-effacing, center of an intense drama."
The Baltimore Sun
"The highlight of the evening was Midori's brilliant traversal of Bach's unaccompanied Violin Sonata in A minor...There was a deeply spiritual quality to the way Midori played the work, as in the achingly beautiful, long-held high note that ended the first movement. The polyphonous effect was painstakingly subtle in the Andante, and her combination of poise and intensity in the Allegro was amazing. A purity of tone shone through in even the flashiest passages."
St. Petersburg Times
"Her evening was about nuance, subtle shading and listening with an inner ear. After intermission Midori stood alone on stage for Bach's Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, playing with a wholeness that felt transcendental. Her view of the central fugue was penetrating, the sound of her 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu filling every inch of the hall."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
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