Maxim Vengerov is a brilliant interpreter of the Brahms Violin Concerto. His appearance as soloist for this work was a popular, much anticipated special event. Yet sometimes life gets in the way, and Vengerov cancelled his appearances, last night and tonight, because of family illness.
With its immense technical challenge, Brahms’ warhorse is the only concerto for violin the composer wrote. Written in the fiddle-friendly key of D major, many of the world’s greatest violinists have celebrated this concerto in their repertoire, yet few, have been blessed with the globally garlanded accolades rained down on Vengerov. His shoes are tough to fill, he’s even written his own formidable cadenza.
But don’t stay away because of Vengerov’s absence. At short notice, Barnabás Kelemen the Hungarian violinist, soloist with the Orchestra in next year’s Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 4, stepped boldly into the breach. The Hungarian walked on stage to the warmest of welcomes. A showman, he inspired confidence and his violin whispered a cautionary note, ‘I’m not Vengerov. I’ll do it my way.’
Kelemen, a big personality on stage, fearlessly and proudly presented his own take on the Brahms and his execution was supernaturally good. His charismatic voice so compelling that it’s hard...