On December 6th, in spite of the recent dental emergency, I was
able to attend a performance of the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra
under the direction of Kevin Hekmatpanah with guest violinist
Elmira Darvarova. I had bought tickets in advance and hated to
waste them. Besides, it was a perfomance I was very much looking
forward to and hated to miss in spite of being in pain. Since my
own pain medication hadn't come in yet, a kind soul loaned me a
couple of Tylenols with codeine, which at least took the edge off.
The main reason the concert caught my eye was that they were to
perform Liszt's Les Preludes. Next year is the 200th anniversary
of the composer's birth, and not knowing yet whether anybody else
here was to perform Liszt in 2011, I grabbed the chance early.
Gonzaga is a small Jesuit university and its music department
is not that big either. But I thought that Hekmatpanah and the
students did a very good job with the program. I did notice a
slight problem with intonation as the 1st and 2nd violins played
in the upper positions of the instrument. But overall I was
I don't know how they got violinist Darvarova in to play, but
my gut tells me that she was there to give some Master's classes
and played as a consequence of that. In any case, I liked her.
She has a nice, warm tone; as for her technique, well it is what
one would expect of a violinist who has held First Chair of a
major American orchestra — extremely good.
As for the Brahms concerto itself — ah, well, it is one of my
favorites. The one slow section at the end of the first movement
always brings tears to my eyes — even on pain medication.
I noticed something interesting about the orchestra during the
performance of the Brahms concerto: the intonation difficulties
in the violins became less during Darvarova's performance. I
think that the violin section, inspired by her playing, rose
above themselves. And that is a gift to be able inspire students
like that. So I found double reason to admire Darvarova.
Franz Liszt — Les Preludes, S. 97
Pietro Mascagni — Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
Gioachino Rossini — Overture to William Tell
Johannes Brahms — Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77