Reviews

Conductor-composer Matthias Pintscher leads DSO in impressionist music both new and old

Scott Cantrell
Jan 5, 2017

Matthias Pintscher, a 45-year-old German, continues the tradition, appearing in both guises Thursday night at the Meyerson Symphony Center. In a Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert otherwise populated with French impressionism he also led his own violin concerto titled Mar’eh, a Hebrew word that, depending on context, can mean apparition, face or beauty. In introductory comments he likened the 23-minute piece to a walk through a beautiful garden.

At least on first hearing, structures eluded my own consciousness. The five-year-old piece seemed, well, impressionistic — all about subtleties of timbre and texture, through which the solo violin wanders and flickers.

Much of the music is quiet, rising to an anxious climax only 15 minutes in, soon returning to hushed intimacies. Again and again, I wondered just what instrument, or what instrumental combination, was producing a hard-to-describe timbre.

The violin part isn’t self-consciously showy, but it demands laser-point tuning, in wide-spread pitches and often stratospheric ranges. Some passages require genuinely virtuoso technique.

It’s hard to imagine this challenging music played with more precision, subtlety and elegance than it was Thursday night by Karen Gomyo. Pintscher obviously knew what he was doing with his own piece, fastidiously detailing music requiring split-second timing and elaborate nuance.

Karen Gomyo and Karina Canellakis offer rare performance of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto

David Gordon Duke
October 16, 2016

As a representative work from the Second Viennese School, it’s sometimes considered tough going by audiences. Certainly it is intense, complex, and richly scored. This did not faze either soloist or conductor. Canellakis created a transparent web of orchestral textures that complemented Gomyo’s fine solo work; the pair had the confidence to let the music speak with plenty of style.

Gomyo’s playing was technically assured and emotionally generous. No doubt
the VSO’s long-term Mahler project informed the performance: sensitive playing from the orchestra made this one of the concerto highlights of recent seasons.

Musical wizardry: Karen Gomyo’s Tchaikovsky in Atlanta

William E Ford
21 February 2016

Soloist Karen Gomyo’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s familiar Violin Concerto was a revelation. It is refreshing to hear a version of a warhorse that enables the listener to experience it as if for the first time. This was an idiosyncratic performance, but in the best way imaginable. Her performance of the
first movement cadenza was startling, holding a note here, speeding up a phrase there, all the while having a finely articulated dynamic range. Adding clean multiple stops, precise pizzicati and controlled bowing, enabled her to create a virtuosic and memorable performance. She was brilliant technically and – more importantly – she was brilliant musically.

The second movement Canzonetta was sweet and affecting without ever becoming maudlin or self-indulgent. Initially, it seemed that she had lost power because she began the movement pianissimo; however, this was a smart choice because from that quietude grew a tender performance that was perfectly attuned to the music’s gentility. The third movement finale began aggressively, the performance gaining momentum and strength, showcasing Gomyo’s technical and musical wizardry. Throughout the piece, the timbre of her 1703 Stradivarius was rich and golden. In her deft hands it never sounded shrill, steely or harsh, in part due to her great bowing technique.

Maestro Măcelaru deserves credit for leading a wonderfully sensitive orchestral accompaniment that was always in balance with Gomyo. Tchaikovsky’s compositions frequently employ accent notes, often in the horns, which can be distracting if played too forte. Măcelaru saw to it that they were played appropriately, without undermining the work’s musical integrity.

CSO’s ‘Pelleas’ dreamlike, haunting

Janelle Gelfand – The Cincinnati Enquirer
Updated 5:45 p.m. ET Oct. 3, 2015

The first half of the evening featured a more traditional debut. A sensational, 33-year-old violinist, Karen Gomyo, made her orchestra debut in the Sibelius Violin Concerto.

She communicated with intensity and fearless virtuosity, flying through treacherous feats while making them look easy. The tone of her Stradivarius was something to behold in Music Hall’s glorious acoustical space. In the slow movement, her phrasing had an interior quality that, ultimately, was quite moving.

Langrée captured the dark, Nordic atmosphere of this music from the first, shivering notes in the violins. Let’s hope that Gomyo returns again, and soon.

Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze, Conductor

Christine Christiansen, Jyllands-Posten
Friday, February 24, 2012

The violinist Karen Gomyo made Thursday night’s Beethoven Violin Concerto the sensitive high point.

“Karen Gomyo is DR Symphony Orchestra’s new darling. Shortly before Christmas she made her debut appearance in the Danish concert hall with an intense rendition of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1.

Since the Canadian violinist James Ehnes took ill prior to this week’s Thursday concert, it was Gomyo the DR phoned. She came in a sparkly back paillette gown and played the Beethoven Violin Concerto with a sound that surpassed everything.

To see Gomyo take control, modeling the beautiful melody lines and lead the orchestra in its way in an organic flow was a delight. The English conductor Andrew Manze followed her, and with lively gestures lured the orchestra into a volume level where the soloist is always audible.

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto has seldom sounded so rich, so pure, so poetic.”

Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits, Conductor

Christine Christiansen, Jyllands-Posten
Friday, December 2, 2011

The horrors of war and the raw physical pain – a few composers have managed to make it all so real and corrosive in their music as Shostakovich. His Violin Concerto No. 1 was the expressive and captivating highlight of Thursday’s concert.

“This success was mainly due to the soloist, the violinist Karen Gomyo, who made a convincing debut on the Danish stage. In a long, shimmering bronze dress she commanded space in front of the orchestra where she fired the concerto’s four movements with a rare intensity and empathy.

This listener was obviously not the only one in the room who felt goosebumps during the big solo cadenza, which Gomyo filled the hall with a projection that was full of timbal contrast.”

Oregon Symphony, Carlos Kalmar, Conductor

James McQuillen, The Oregonian
Sunday, October 30, 2011

“The opener was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with Karen Gomyo as soloist. With a no-nonsense stage presence, immaculate intonation and beautifully controlled phrasing, she made a terrifically fresh traversal of a familiar piece, with self-effacing virtuosity, beautifully sculpted phrases and penetrating, heart-stopping cadenzas. Kalmar led the orchestra, which has become a fine Beethoven band over the last ten years, in acutely sensitive accompaniment.”

The Cleveland Orchestra, Andrew Grams, Conductor

Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
Monday, July 19, 2011

“The high point Sunday was the Cleveland debut of Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo, playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, a chestnut for the instrument. Far from routine, her performance was honest and soulful, fueled by abundant talent but not a vain display of technique. Her captivating take on the Andante could never get old.”

Baltimore Symphony, Carlos Kalmar, Conductor

Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
Saturday, May 28, 2011

“Karen Gomyo tackled the challenging concerto with remarkable technical ease and, more impressive still, a kind of radiant phrasing. Her tone was sweet, but never saccharine. She spun out melodic lines with the beauty and insight of a poet; her pianissimos in the Adagio were ravishing. The rougher side of the music did not go short-changed; she dug in mightily and grittily as needed. The violinist’s stirring work was matched by Kalmar and the BSO; the performance clicked tightly. A vociferous response from the audience drew an encore from Gomyo.”

Dallas Symphony, Gunther Herbig, Conductor

Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News
Friday, March 3, 2011

“Karen Gomyo was the dazzling soloist in the Mozart G major Violin Concerto (K.216). Playing a Stradivarius of ravishing beauty, she gave not the usual well-behaved summary, but a highly dramatized, even operatic account. This was playing of flawless technique and great sophistication, and Herbig coaxed buoyant, vividly characterized collaboration from a chamber-orchestra reduction of the DSO.”

New York Philharmonic, David Robertson, conductor

Allan Kozinn, The New York Times
May 26, 2009

“The orchestral music in “The Lark Ascending” rarely rises above a whisper, but the solo violin soars gracefully and benefits greatly from a rich acoustic ambience. Karen Gomyo used that to her benefit, and the music’s, in a sweet-toned, beautifully shaped performance.”

 

Chicago Grant Park Festival Orchestra, Kirill Karabits, conductor

John Von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune
July 20, 2009

“New to the roster were Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits and Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo. Mark well their names because you are going to hear a lot more from these gifted young musicians in the coming years. …Gomyo is a first-rate artist of real musical command. Her probing account of the Shostakovich concerto carried tremendous vitality, brilliance and intensity.”

Dallas Symphony, Vasily Petrenko, conductor

Olin Chism, The Dallas Morning News
October 10, 2008

“…sharing the stage with the exceptional young violinist, Karen Gomyo, who gave a vivid performance that was full of interesting detail as well as a sense of drama. Some moments were downright spine-tingling.”

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Xian Zhang, conductor

Rian Evans, The Guardian
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

“These two works framed a performance of Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole in which the violin soloist was the Canadian Karen Gomyo. She succeeded in balancing the flamboyance of the score with its moments of quiet lyricism. Like Zhang, she is certainly an artist to watch.”

Toronto Symphony, Kwamé Ryan, conductor

Ken Winters, The Globe and Mail
May 26, 2008

“…the superb young violinist Karen Gomyo, his soloist in the Mendelssohn, summarily banished any such misbegotten notions with her deeply serious, temperamental and just plain gorgeous account of the solo part. Possibly the last great talent to come under the influence of Dorothy DeLay, she had the measure of the Mendelssohn concerto, both in its detail and in the large. She played it at its own level of lyricism and fiery invention, but always with a clear sense of the music’s rhythmic pulse and sonic perspectives.”

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz, conductor

Lynn Walker, The Guardian
December 1, 2004

“The young Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo showed herself more than capable of taking the lead in this short but well-crafted concerto. She was unfailingly persuasive, with an unforced natural expressiveness and warmth. From perilous harmonics, gravelly double-stops and dramatic left-hand pizzicatos to her snatch of balalaika-like dance, Gomyo displayed a remarkable musicianship.”