Classical New Jersey Society Journal, March 2002Violin with orchestra

Sunday, February 24

West Jersey Chamber Symphony, Joel Krott (conductor), Jochen Brusch, Karen Banos (violins).Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041; Violin , Concerto in E major, BWV 1042, Concerto for Two Violins, in D minor BWV 1043. First Presbyterian Church, Moorestown
By Koren Cowgill

The second concert of the New Jersey Bach Festival presented by the West Jersey Chamber Music Society was also given at the First Presbyterian Church in Moorestown. For this concert, we heard J.S. Bach's music für violin and orchestra. 
Again I was privileged to hear violinist Jochen Brusch, this time as a soloist with the orchestra. This was no mere pick-up group. They played with a marked unity and a sound which was rich and consistantly homogeneous. Soloist and orchestra complemented one another confidently and enforced the contrast of the dynamics of the opening Allegro of the Concerto in A minor and the drama of the movement as well. In the Andantemovement the violinist made his instrument speak sweetly on the melodic lines over the pulse of the orchestra. Some of his soft entrances at the beginnings of phrases were so exquisite that I imagine the rest of the audience must have melted as I did. Mr. Brusch's high pianissimos were breathtaking, and his sustained tones seemed miraculous in their ability to have shape. This movement was indeed music für the expiation of grief.

For the final Allegro assai, the opening orchestral entrance gallops along, angular and powerful. The violin soloist sustained his energy throughout and drove the audience through sequence after amazing sequence.

The Allegro of Bach's Concerto in E Major for Violin and Orchestra begins with a joyful, imitative texture with rich swells in the orchestra. Conductor Joel Krott led the ensemble and soloist with great economy of motion, all the while bringing a great variety of sound and color out of the performers.I found it difficult to keep my eyes off the soloist, however, not because his movement was distracting, but his presence demanded it.

The Adagio movement is replete with sustained soft tones tor the soloist. His phrasing of these lines was exceptional, and he was appropriately restrained when neccessary. I noted a particularly lovely orchestral interlude in major mode.

It was a pleasure to enjoy the orchestra itself within the context of the concerto. In fact, the orchestra alone brought the movement to a close and its unified performance was encouraging. The closing Allegro Assai movement propelled the ensemble along with its constant motion. Soloist and orchestra were fairly well synchronized, but the more virtuosic violin passages sounded as if they were a bit difficult rather than be diffictult but sound easy.

The final - and perhaps most wellknown - piece on the program was Bach's Concerto in D minor for Two Violins and Orchestra. Although second violinist Karen Banos was consistantly tentative and therefore often overpowered by Jochen Brusch, none of the force of the music was lost to the audience. The Largo ma non tanto movement was a bit too fast for my taste, but that is because the music is such a beautiful slow fugue that I love to savor it. The descending lines that recur in the parts of each soloist were I uttered expressively, although the second violin lines were sometimes obscured. The rhythmic unisons of the two soloists were very much together. As their lines entwined with more motion, the balance between the two parts become better. Mr. Brusch's piano passages were absolutely perfect in this movement. I could have listened to the two violinists play it many times in succession, it was so moving.

The final Allegro was, however, a bit disappointing because the second violinist's solo sound often became lost in the furious texture of the orchestra. When the two soloists played together, she definitely became stronger. By the middle of the movement both performers mustered more energy and force, especially Ms. Banos.

This Bach festival was overall a thrilling event to attend, ant I look forward to more events presented by the West Jersey Chamber Music Society. It is also encouraging to hear fine performers from other countries and know that we have astounding musicians from New Jersey as well. I cannot stress enough the importance of such events, especially in the shadow of threats to the peace of our society. I am grateful that we live in an area where we have access to such fine musical culture and sponsers who choose to subsidize these events.