Daniel Phillips traded violin solos with his brother, Todd, in a program that included two Baroque standards.
Soloists evoke orchestral grandeur from Bach, Vivaldi
The sound of a small Baroque piece usually appears less potent than the massive one of Romantic orchestral works by Beethoven, Brahms or Tchaikovsky.
In concert: 4 p.m. today
Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $12 to $65
Call: 792-2000 or visit www.honolulusymphony.com.
But with Bach's Concerto for two violins in D minor (1717-1723) and Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" (1725), when you have a competent orchestra and skillful soloists with wonderful instruments, volume is not an issue. That was the case in the Honolulu Symphony concert Thursday night. And even the Blaisdell Concert Hall, a big, "symphonically conceived" auditorium, was no obstacle to full sounds.
These two works exude a unique vibrancy and high energy. Bach's concerto in particular has the power to infect audience with a sense of joy. The composer's spirituality and his musical craftsmanship surely emerge in this piece. The strings of the Honolulu Symphony and concertmaster Ignace Jang gave a beautiful and mature interpretation of the pieces, and the instruments of soloists Todd and Daniel Phillips, two magnificent Stradivarius, gave justice to the piece's brilliance.
With different styles, the siblings alternated in Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," oddly dividing the work -- playing two seasons in the first half and two in the second. They played together for the rest of the concert, including Mozart's "Sinfonia Concertante" for Violin and Viola in E-flat Major (1779), in which Todd demonstrated his dexterity on viola. Overall, Daniel's performance was less polished and a bit too romantic at times, especially when playing occasional portamentos. But both musicians' expressive interpretations were quite moving.
Todd Phillips demonstrates his dexterity with viola in Mozart's "Sinfonia Concertante" for Violin and Viola in E-flat Major."
Mozart's score includes two oboes, played with mastery by Scott Janusch and Brian Greene, and two horns featuring Wade Butin and George Warnock. It also involves contrasting dynamics and a constant dialogue between soloists, in typical classical manner. Here the brothers' musical communication was inspiring. Their cadenza in the first movement naturally created a very rich and multicolored sound, and their moving phrasing reminded me of the balanced brilliancy and expression of father-and-son performers David and Igor Oistrakh.
In the second movement of Mozart's concerto, Daniel showed his best interpretation. This slow movement has the flavor of an operatic aria and the soloists equally shared it. The solo voice of each instrument conveyed an emotional message, harder to perform than any high-speed passage. Mozart's arching themes gave room to the final movement, a brisk rondo that showcased the soloists' virtuosity. Exploiting the instruments' potential, the brothers ended the concert in a brilliant note.
Valeria Wenderoth has a doctorate in musicology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she also teaches.