ASO: Thomas Søndergård with Blake Bouliot

I decided to leave at intermission rather than suffer more of Søndergård’s soulless Sibelius. I love Sibelius when played well, but played poorly his work can be terribly boring. I’d say that I was disappointed, but my expectations weren’t high given that this wasn’t the first time that I’ve heard him with the ASO and the two times that have occurred since I started keeping this journal were also fairly poor performances. Two and a half concerts worth of my time is enough; I’ll not be using my ticket for next week’s performance featuring him on the podium even though the program is really interesting.

Blake Pouliot’s soloing in the violin concerto wasn’t bad. He was strongest when the music was most vibrant and boisterous, though I thought he was a little weak on expressiveness in the more lyrical passages. As an encore he played his personal transcription of the traditional Irish tune, Aislean an Oigfear. He stated that he wanted to bring out the melody in his setting moreso than have a virtuosic show piece. That’s fairly notable considering that it has been orchestrated by a number of notable composers in the past – Ernst has a virtuosic one for violin and both Beethoven and Mendelssohn have set it for piano, for example – but even they failed to make me like the song. There’s nothing wrong with it but I’ve generally not enjoyed folk music from Western Europe save those tunes that show Arabic influences from the Iberian peninsula. Still, I thought it was a brave and bold move to share a piece that he thought beautiful rather than try to show off his technical skills and Pouliot certainly deserves all of the applause for that.

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