Soundings: An extraordinary violinist, a rare violin, an unforgettable night

The Virginia Gazette

Anne Akiko Meyers is an internationally celebrated violinist of extraordinary skills and possessions.Her skills have attained for her exalted praise of the highest order, her sense of line, technique, and overall musical ability constant companions.She is also renowned for the instrument she plays.

While she owns two 17th and 18th Stradivari violins - one of which traces back to one of Napoleon's generals and cost several million dollars - her proven musical skills and developed professionalism resulted in an anonymous benefactor buyer giving her lifetime rights to play a 1741 "Vieuxtemps" Guarneri del Gesu violin, valued at $16 million.Once owned by Henri Vieuxtemps, it is highly cherished, revered and the envy of all violinists.Most Guarneri violins of note are in museums.How wonderful to have this one actively being played and by such an incredibly talented musician.

To have this highly celebrated violinist and her Guarneri appear with the Williamsburg Symphonia, Monday, in the Kimball Theatre, will be one of the orchestra's forever highlights.Hearing her perform one of violin literature's most beautiful works doubled the reward and memory.

Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto easily illustrates Barber's keen ability to craft delicate and flowing lines into an intertwined narrative between soloist and orchestra.His sense of lyricism is vocal in quality, his passages literally songlike in impact.This lush and lyrical concerto tugs at your soul, its sonorous qualities washing over you and pulling you into a state of tranquility few such works can accomplish.As well, the listener is propelled into a frenzied, highly virtuoso finale that is filled with nonstop quick moving lines that jump all over the place.Its demands are extreme.

Throughout, Meyers was in total control, highlighting her emotional interpretation, exacting delivery, and red hot technique.At Meyers' hands, she proved why the Guarneri was given to her for lifetime playing rights; she superbly put into play the instrument's sumptuous warmth of sound, resonance, and responsive qualities.While her playing in the emotional and lyrical Allegro and Andante was poetic and insightful, her concluding Presto with its fireworks passages was dazzling.

Conductor Janna Hymes maintained nuanced balance between musicians and soloist, allowing both to shine, carefully creating the musical magic heard here.

The evening opened with a less well known work of Mendelssohn, his Overture to "The Fair Melusine." As the program note noted, Mendelssohn was a master of the concert overture in his ability to capture the spirit of the larger work to come.Such it was with "Melusine." The work's nearly constant rippling passages effectively created a flowing backdrop for the mythical story of the maiden made mermaid.Both dramatic and lyrical in content, the Symphonia delivered the piece with a blended flow of line, delicacy, and urgency.

Closing the fare was Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major.Essentially a cheerful composition, Hymes and company offered a rock solid performance filled with spirit, energy, abundant sensitivity in the lovely Adagio and orchestral fire in the Finale.

Shulson can be reached at shulark@cox.net.

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