Bela Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2 is a challenging work for both soloist and ensemble. Audiences were treated to a fine performance by violinist Joseph Lin, maestro Benjamin Rous, and the Charlottesville Symphony March 23 and 24th, 2019.

Joseph Lin, violin

Lin possessed all the technical ability necessary for this difficult piece. He played with a clean, pure tone, using vibrato sparingly.

Lin had especially fine control in the violin’s extreme upper register, delivering those notes with precision and beauty.

Equally impressive was the fluidity of his runs. At times he seemed to just glide from register to register. Lin did seem a little reserved in the lyrical passages, though.

The solo violin sounded a little too deep in the ensemble — at least in the first movement. The balance seemed better in the second movement, and in the final movement, Lin’s instrument was more prominent.

The ensemble was on point from the get-go. And that precision can make or break this concerto. Kudos to the brass section. Their clarion calls were solid and stirring.

“Stirring” could also describe the Symphony’s performance of Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony. It didn’t begin that way. The ensemble started out a little ragged, and the tempo didn’t seem to lock in until the end of the exposition. From then it was smooth sailing.

The Andante con moto movement was beautifully played. The third movement (Con moto moderato) featured excellent work by the French horns. But the big, heart-on-your-sleeve melodies never seemed to fully take flight.

Then came the finale. Rous set a break-neck tempo and away the Symphony went. Not only was it fast, but it was furious. Like a runner hitting their stride (an Olympic runner that is), the Symphony blasted through the movement without breaking a sweat.

It was a thrilling finish and one that brought the audience to its feet. I sometimes think Charlottesville audiences are too generous with their standing ovations. This time it was well-deserved.

Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia
Benjamin Rous, Music Director
Joseph Lin, violin
March 23, 24 2019

Bela Bartok: Violin Concerto No. 2
Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90 “Italian”