Impeccable violinist plays showpiece with restraint

November 27, 1993|By Kenneth Meltzer | Kenneth Meltzer,Contributing Writer

In a recent Sun interview, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers revealed that it was Music Director David Zinman who selected Wieniawski's Second Concerto for this weekend's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program. The 23-year-old violinist rather broadly hinted that the virtuoso showpiece was hardly among her favorites. Anyone who read that interview must have anticipated Ms. Meyers' performance with some degree of unease, if not trepidation.

In truth, Ms. Meyers is among that calibre of violinists who are virtually incapable of a poor performance. Her intonation is impeccable, her passage-work flawless. Her tone is crystalline and lovely, if not particularly generous in volume. The Wieniawski Second Concerto is full of technical hurdles, and Ms. Meyers --ed all of them off with enviable facility and polish.

The American-born and -trained violinist approached the piece with almost patrician restraint. While such an interpretive outlook may be appropriate for many pieces, the Wieniawski Second is to a great degree a technical tour-de-force and a prime opportunity for the soloist to showcase his/her virtuosity.

Not surprisingly, the lyrical second movement, the Romance, fared best. In the outer movements, however, Ms. Meyers seemed almost embarrassed by the composer's unabashedly showy writing. Perhaps the violinist's reservations about the piece reflect a keen understanding of her talents and the repertoire that best suits them. I would very much welcome the opportunity to hear Ms. Meyers in works that are more congenial to her prodigious gifts. The Wieniawski provided only a tantalizing glimpse.

The concert began with an evocative performance of Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov's four-movement depiction of his beloved Russian Georgia, the "Caucasian Sketches." Ippolitov-Ivanov's colorful woodwind scoring was generally well served, but perhaps the highlight of the performance was the English horn and viola dialogue in the second movement, "In the Village," as masterfully played by Keith Kummer and Richard Field.

The evening concluded with a taut and sparkling rendition of Act II of Tchaikovsky's perennial holiday favorite, "The Nutcracker," in which the dance origins of the piece were never lost on the orchestra.

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