Last Saturday, the University of Manchester Music Society’s Symphony Orchestra held a splendid concert at the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall. The concert, under the aegis of Mark Heron, Duncan Gallagher and Rory Johnston, included Sibelius’ wonderful Symphony No. 5, Korngold’s both classical and quite modern Violin Concerto, as well as Dvorak’s symphonic poem “The Noon(day) Witch” and his concert overture “In Nature’s Realm”. While the Symphony Orchestra proved its potential and talent by delivering a performance worth the pleasure to listen to, it nevertheless felt at times somewhat stiff with a lack of strong expression and emotions. Despite this, they proved to be remarkable for a university orchestra.
I want to focus on what ended up being the highlight of the concert: the Royal College of Music (jd) award winning violinist, Itamar Rashkovsky, and his performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto. Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a Viennese composer who was not particularly fond of the Second Viennese School, which was en vogue in the early twentieth century in Vienna. He kept writing pieces in the late Romantic style and became famous for his film scores during the golden age of Hollywood. The concerto is a serious and sophisticated work that requires both musical maturity and great technical command over the instrument from the soloist. It can remind one of fin de siècle Vienna, with the climax of its high culture as well as the abrupt end to its blooming society due to the devastating aftermath of the Second World War.
Being a laureate of multiple international violin competitions, the sold out concert hall eagerly anticipated Rashkovsky’s rendition of the Korngold. Mr. Rashkovsky was on point and displayed passion and temperament, playing with his full might and expressing his emotions in the highest of details. There were moments were Rashkovsky captured the audience and took them on a 20th Century tour of Hollywood, after which it truly felt like a return back to the future. A fitting gesture on the recent date of relevance from the original film. Throughout the performance, the conductor Heron and Rashkovsky displayed a wonderful partnership. The orchestra and Rashkovsky, unfortunately, failed to always stay in sync in occasional passages. The audience clearly loved Rashkovsky’s performance, giving him the fitting gift of a standing ovation.
Sebastian Marshall, a third year music student, remarked: “The best student performance I've ever seen in my life. To be honest, one of the best professional performances I've ever seen in my life. MUMS [Manchester University Music Society] had never seen anything like it, at least not since I've been here. Congratulations, an absolutely phenomenal job.”
Aaron Zitnik writes for The Manchester Magazine on topics that range from music to international politics. He is a second year Politics and International Relations student at the University of Manchester.