There is no instrument that touches the heart like a violin and last evening at Davies Hall in San Francisco the German violinist Arabella Steinbacher touched my heart with gorgeous playing of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the visiting Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Leading the Danes was its new Principal Conductor, Fabio Luisi.
When played right, this Concerto never fails to bring tears to my eyes and last evening it was played wonderfully right by Ms. Steinbacher, a lovely woman who brings an unmistakable femininity and grace to the music.
Ms. Steinbacher’s tone was exquisite, her runs superb and the cadenza, especially in the last movement, inspired. The public was so totally enthralled in the performance you could hear a pin drop; no coughing, no nervous rattling of program pages, nothing but rapt attention.
The Danish National Symphony Orchestra may not be a top five orchestra but they are a very good one with many young players who under Mr. Luisi’s expert guidance could easily become a fixture on the international circuit if the Danish authorities are willing to invest the money.
The Danes are so lucky Mr. Luisi became available after his shabby treatment by the Metropolitan Opera.
The Italian conductor (from Genoa) will be guest conducting with the SFS from April 27 to the 29th in a program of Schumann and R. Strauss. Let’s hope San Francisco sees much more of this talented musician in the coming seasons.
A final note: Have you noticed how women appear to be taking over the violin business? Since December, I have heard SIX violin soloists and all have been women—Bhatiashvili in Amsterdam and Lamsma, Shoji, Mutter, and Steinbacher twice in San Francisco.
Mind you, I am not complaining—in fact I am delighted! Last night the trend was especially evident. I did not do a precise count but it appeared at least 60 to 70 percent of the violin players in the Danish orchestra are women. The orchestra’s two concertmasters are female.
Together with Ms. Steinbacher, the Danes gave us an authentically feminine Beethoven performance and it was a joy to hear—and see. Bravo and come back soon!