TSO All Tchaikovsky

I came to hear Tchaikovsky at the Toronto Symphony and was rewarded with one of the most brilliant performances of his violin concerto that I’ve ever heard. The program at Roy Thomson Hall featured three works by the popular Russian composer, but perhaps should have been promoted for the prodigy we heard as soloist.

Daniel Lozakovich was born 2001. And yet we heard an interpretation of great maturity & wisdom.

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Simon Rivard leading the TSO and soloist Daniel Lozakovich (photo: Jag Gundu)

It’s not so much a matter of perfection, as indeed there were wrong notes, but come to think of it Horowitz sometimes did that too.

What we heard was a genuine virtuoso, not just in his skill but perhaps more importantly in his sense of drama. Phrases were begun with the kind of rhetorical flourish making everything seem especially new. I had the impression in the first movement of a kind of method actor coming at the solo from the inside, making it seem spontaneous and fresh, a series of responses to the orchestra pursuing a musical logic, and making the composition tight & organic.

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Lozakovich, Rivard & the TSO (photo: Jag Gundu)

In the second movement, when he’s in a kind of duet with the woodwinds, he actually turned to face them, a stunning moment of genuine theatricality, to suggest that they were listening to one another. Yes I think they really were doing so.

Lozakovich has several different sounds he gets from his violin. Sometimes he got a big sound, sometimes something extremely soft & subdued, as in the opening to the second movement. In his cadenzas he made them seem like complete thoughts, soliloquys leading to profound statements. For minutes at a time, he seemed to be shaping phrases as though to suggest a series of sentences or thoughts, building one upon the next.
Lozakovich was aided by conductor Simon Rivard, who stayed with the soloist in spite of some quirky shifts in tempo, all working well to illuminate Tchaikovsky.

I was surprised that there wasn’t a bigger reception, meaning enough to get an encore. The violin playing was superb, but there weren’t enough of us screaming our approval.

Bracketing the concerto were a pair of Tchaikovky works, his 1st Symphony and his well-known 1812 Overture in a reading from Rivard that was passionate in its restraint, refusing to rush anything, building inexorably to its big finish.  The TSO respond wonderfully to Rivard’s leadership.

While I liked Rivard’s reading of the Symphony there are other works one could wish for, such as the Manfred Symphony that I don’t think we’ve heard in Toronto in a long time.

Rivard did well with this early work that features some lovely melodies without the subtleties of orchestration or structure we might be accustomed to in the mature composer. At times we hear the gears shifting and the wheels turning, building gradually.

The program repeats Saturday night & Sunday afternoon. I recommend you go hear the young violinist if at all possible.  You won’t hear anything better.

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