Perth Concert Hall
reviewed by Neville Cohn
There was a near-capacity audience to listen to Veronika Eberle making her WASO debut as soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Glamorously gowned in yellow, she played on a Stradivarius violin – known as the Dragonetti and dating from 1700 – on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.
Stylistically, Eberle’s playing was impeccable, her skill on the fingerboard beyond criticism. Bowing technique and phrase-shaping were masterly. But listening from a seat at the rear of the front stalls, one sensed a need for rather more carrying tone in the upper reaches of the range, particularly when playing softly and needing to stand out from the accompanying orchestral sound. But this was to a degree compensated for by the delightful, silvery quality of tone that Eberle coaxed from her instrument.
Defying concert convention, the audience burst into sustained applause at the conclusion of the first movement. This is, of course, contrary to standard practice – but this was really a very minor departure from the norm when considering that when the Beethoven concerto had its very first ever performance in 1806, the soloist – Franz Clement – at the same point in the work entertained the audience by playing one of his own compositions performed on one string of the violin while holding the instrument upside down! Compared to that circus-style desecration, the applause that broke out at the same point of the performance on Friday is absolutely pardoned.
Eberle’s golden-toned account of the lengthy cadenza was impeccable.
I cannot too highly praise the quality of orchestral accompaniment. It was a joy to the ear, with Asher Fisch coaxing consistently meaningful responses from a WASO in great form. It augurs well for the oncoming concert season. The introduction was informed by an altogether appropriate magisterial quality; it sounded entirely right, so much so that if, by some miracle of time travel, Beethoven could have been present at the performance, I’d like to think he’d have gone backstage afterwards to shake Fisch’s hand and perhaps ask for his autograph. Horns, trumpets and kettle drums were in great form, the musicians consistently on their mettle.
Incidentally, it’s seventy years since the concerto was first performed by the WASO – with, as soloist, the unforgettable, magnificent Ginette Neveu.
There was also a well-attended and fascinating pre-concert talk by Marilyn Phillips in the terrace-level foyer.