Top Dutch Violinists are Tall, Talented - and Female
Last December during a stay in Amsterdam, the buzz in music circles was about the new Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma. So when I returned to the Bay Area and saw Ms. Lamsma was on the boards to play Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto 2 with the San Francisco Symphony, I was curious to see what the fuss was all about. There is so much hype in the music business and the Dutch can be chauvinistic about their native musicians.
But from the opening bars of the San Francisco performance of the Prokofiev concerto (a work being played with increasing frequency in concert halls these days) it became obvious Ms Lamsma’s growing reputation in her native land has little to do with chauvinism—or might I add her strikingly good looks. (The statuesque violinist stands about 6’2” tall with a model-thin physique and long wavy blond hair.)
This young Dutch player is simply a terrific violinist and unequivocally demonstrated this fact in San Francisco by giving a wonderfully moving and exciting performance of the Prokofiev masterpiece, a work that demands from the soloist passion, darkness, sweetness and tumult in more or less equal parts. If that sounds a like the composer’s Romeo and Juliet, it’s only because there’s a lot of the Prokofiev ballet score in his second violin concerto.
Ms. Lamsma was more than ably partnered in this performance by guest conductor James Gaffigan and the wonderful San Francisco Symphony musicians. Early in his career Mr. Gaffigan, who is from New York City, was an associate conductor at the SFS and he obviously felt at home being back in San Francisco as well as with Ms. Lamsma who he has worked with in Europe. Music is a world in which globalization works!
The playing of the opening moments of the Concerto’s second movement was especially moving. The noted music critic Michael Steinberg called the solo violin part here one of the most inspired melodies Prokofiev ever wrote. And Ms. Lamsma’s playing of the inspired melody certainly did not let Prokofiev down.
Later on, all the violins play the melody together, bringing the movement to exquisite closure. Tumult follows in the finale as the concerto comes to a rousing conclusion.
Ms. Lamsma, it should be noted, is not the only female Dutch violinist currently making a mark on the world stage. The other is Janine Jansen, also a terrific player and a tall, strikingly handsome woman to boot. What a joy these Dutch women violinists are; not only are they great players but they are a pleasure to look at as well.
Where are the Dutch male violinists you ask? I don’t know but when you Google Dutch male violinists the only name that comes up is Andre Rieu! That says it all, does it not?