By Greg Cahill | From the November-December 2022 issue of Strings magazine
Augustin Hadelich, the 38-year-old violin virtuoso, takes a deep dive, emotionally and musically, on a program with close ties to Spain. Recuerdos opens with Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25, one of the most cherished works in the Romantic repertoire. Hadelich deftly navigates the delicate high-register passages in the concerto’s first movement and plays passionately throughout before moving to Sergei Prokofiev’s comparatively solemn Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 61, a symphonic beast filled with throbbing rhythms and sweeping melodies—it premiered in 1935 with the Madrid Symphony Orchestra conducted by Enrique Fernández Arbós.
The Prokofiev sets up Benjamin Britten’s electrifying Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 15, which premiered in New York in 1940 with Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa and the New York Philharmonic (Britten, moved by the anti-fascist resistance in the Spanish Civil War, started writing the piece in Madrid). Francisco Tarrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” bristling with thorny solo-violin passages, concludes the program.
The performance is mic’d quite close to Hadelich, and it contributes to a thrilling rush of immediacy. Throughout Recuerdos, Hadelich establishes himself as a powerhouse performer of vast technical merit, meeting challenging dynamics, but also a master violinist capable of touching the soul. He’s right at home with the Cologne-based WDR Symphony Orchestra, which cleverly has chosen Hadelich as artist-in-residence for the 2022–23 season.