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Virtuosic fireworks

Town Topics, Nancy Plum

There is a lot of Leonard Bernstein in concert halls these days; in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the iconic composer’s birth, performers worldwide are participating in Bernstein at 100, a two-year global celebration. Princeton Symphony Orchestra joined the party this past weekend at Richardson Auditorium by devoting the opening concert of the 2018-19 season to music of the American legend. A clear sign of growth and success, Princeton Symphony Orchestra has expanded its classical series to two performances of several of the classical concerts this season. Saturday night’s performance (the concert was repeated Sunday afternoon) brought several of Bernstein’s more popular works to life, featuring two stellar solo performers.

Bernstein’s most immortal stage production is without a doubt West Side Story, which was represented Saturday night by the West Side Story Suite for Violin and Orchestra, arranged by award-winning Broadway orchestrator William David Brohn.

Featured in this performance was guest soloist Daniel Rowland, whose playing exploited all the ranges and characteristics of the violin.

Brohn arranged the solo violin part of this Suite in virtuosic fashion, well capturing the melodies and dramatic conflicts of Bernstein’s musical.

Rowland’s solo line began in an improvisatory style, but he showed himself just as capable of conveying a sweet love tune as a fiery passage laden with double-stops. Rowland played an especially elegant obbligato line to the dance music of Tony and Maria. “Tonight” was conveyed as a series of graceful duets among Rowland, principal cellist Alistair MacRae, and concertmaster Basia Danilow. Rowland’s closing cadenza was full of virtuosic fireworks and quick double-stops, as Milanov brought the Suite to a close with a spirited recall of the jazzier themes in the music.

Expansion of the classical concert series to Saturday night looked to be a success for Princeton Symphony, and the ensemble is off to a great start for the new season.

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Rowland completely fascinated us with his playing

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An uncommonly beautiful sound and utterly assured technique
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Naked, vulnerable and extremely virtuosic playing

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Rowland has an inherent talent to clarify scores to a level where they communicate with a higher level of clarity

Paul Boekkooi, the leading S. African critic, was there for Daniel Rowland’s performance of Distant Light by Péteris Vasks at Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, 3rd July 2016.

Beautiful as a diamond, incandescent as the radiant beams of the sun and poetic as the night of the full moon

Traunsteiner Tagblatt
Chiemgauer Musikfrühling, Traunstein, Germany, May 2016

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Financial Times, Shirley Apthorp

“among this year’s highlights were organist Wolfgang Abendroth’s seven-part arrangement of Alban Berg’s violin concerto, all the more effective for its intimacy, with Daniel Rowland giving a lyrically intelligent account of the solo part; and a surreal but startlingly plausible version of Shostakovich’s 15th symphony for violin, cello, piano and three percussionists.”

His tone was silky smooth and sweet as honey

The Glasgow Herald

” How did he maintain such an incandescent level of tension throughout a piece as long and as involved as the Franck sonata and how many musical volts were coursing through that bow? His tone was silky smooth and sweet as honey and he seemed to be in another world, eyes closed and breathing in the very soul of the music. ” 

With his magnetic music-making he transfixed this listener

Beeld, Thijs Odendaal

Korngold’s concerto is surely one of the most “lirico dramatico” in the violin repertoire; fiendishly difficult and brilliantly composed with expansive and colourful orchestral writing.

Put the thought-provoking and always engaging violinist Daniel Rowland on the stage with an orchestra even more refined than two nights previously under Raiskin’s guidance, and you get a very special musical experience.

And so it was. Rowland enlightened every lyrical, harmonic and melodic aspect of the work, as well as the fascinating diverse constructions of the solo and orchestral writings during the performance. With his magnetic music-making he transfixed this listener, resulting in an experience that lingered in the mind long after the concert. It is, undoubtedly, an evening that will be remembered for many moons to come.

Backed up by an astonishing technical ability

Die Burger, Cape Town

“Stylish, tasteful and impeccable – but this was so much more: here was deep musical understanding that ranged from tender intimacy to the greatest excitement, always backed up by an astonishing technical ability.”

The force of his magical imagination

Die Burger, Cape Town

” The success and conviction and of the Seasons lay with Rowland. He handles the violin as an extra, but ‘integral’ limb. He creeps round the stage as an enfant terrible, dragging you and the ensemble along with the force of his magical imagination. His sound, even without vibrato, is rich and sweet as honey, his interpretation full of mood-swings and he doesn’t fear to let his violin scratch and groan.”

Faultless intonation and highest musicality

Badisches Tagesblat, Baden-Baden
” All beauties of violin playing were in evidence in this Brahms Concerto: calm bow arm, needless to say faultless intonation and highest musicality. As all of it was as in one breath with the orchestra, we witnessed a masterful performance. The stormy applause said it all.. “

It is a charisma that's hard to put into words

Haarlemse Courant, Netherlands
” With a great sense of lyricism Daniel Rowland plays these gorgeous sonatas. His whole body plays the violin, not through exaggerated movements – it is a charisma that’s hard to put into words. “

A bewitching quality that few musicians possess

Financial Times, Andrew Clark

“… Rowland’s spur-of-the-moment, light-on-the-bow inspiration, whereby the music vanished in the very act of articulation – a bewitching quality that few musicians possess “

The Glasgow Herald

The Glasgow Herald

“It was not just the technical brilliance of his playing or the astonishing richness of his tone that gave his performance its unique stamp of quality. He radiated a single-minded intensity that made him seem totally at one with the music.”

What an exceptionally fine soloist and leader this British/Dutch violinist is!

Beeld, Johannesburg

” What an exceptionally fine soloist and leader this British/Dutch violinist is! We haven’t had such an emotive, but also totally and truly a charismatic guest in a very long time.. .the emotions, smouldering passions, the melancholy: Rowland transported us with daring and severity into the composers soul”

Ravishing in its finesse

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

” glorious playing…ravishing in its finesse.”

The evening's tour de force

The Times, Hilary Finch 
” Daniel Rowland’s performance of the second quartet’s searingly intensive recitativo, supported by hushed humming and rich chords, was the evenings tour de force.”

The airy energy of the Vivaldi to the the lush, sultry Piazzolla material

The Citizen, Bruce Dennill

A suitable frenzy of heat and colour

The Strad, Tim Homfray

This disc succeeds because it goes to great lengths to bring out the many characters of the music, always in interesting and unexpected ways

La Scena Musicale, Pemi Paull

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09/08/2020