Sunday evening, January 29, I attended the first Pittsburgh recital of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, and am thrilled I was able to be a part of this event.
Mr. Bendix-Balgley, is an exceptionally gifted young artist filled with promise. Promise not only for his career as a virtuoso violinist, but also music itself and the essential role it plays in our lives. And, specifically, as of now, the lives of those who experienced the recital he offered at Temple Emanuel in the worship space in the Mt. Lebanon synagogue, presented by its Diskin Music Fund. The recital, being sold out had the hall filled to its capacity. This recital was his [Noah Bendix-Balgley] first, stepping out from first chair to make himself known as the true soloist he is.
His astonishing command of the violin, as well as a soulful and engaging immediacy that harkens back to the legendary musical masters was all displayed and offered to the ecstatic and receptive audience.
Mr. Bendix-Balgley opened the evening with Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne,” a charming arrangement of “Pulcinella” (ballet). His accompanist, PSO Rodrigo Ojeda did an amazing job making music with him. The enchantments that spilled, poured, rang, and elicited from his violin almost cast a spell on me at times, though it surely would have been an insignificant cost to pay for the virtuosic wonder in front of me. After each piece he explained in detail the backgrounds to the conception of each work and composer.
Brahms’ Scherzo in C minor from the “F.A.E.” Sonata followed on the program. Bendix-Balgley’s ability to control the bow in the legato strokes was mesmerizing. I closed my eyes at certain times throughout the performance and I could not perceive bow changes at all! His playing was as smooth and gliding as a piano. As smooth as sheen of silk, the bow glided across the strings in those instances. The warm tone produced by his violin (with the exception of the beautiful low register on the low G string) was lovely.
Mr. Bendix-Balgley evoked many deep feelings at the first notes of the Hebrew Melody through composer Joseph Achron. The flawless notes sang into the air. His notes held perfection from conception to completion. Every molecule of precision was present.
The program was closed with the absolutely gorgeous, and I mean absolutely gorgeous Franck Sonata in A major. I was for the first time introduced to this work. Bendix-Balgley described the four movements of this work as a married couple on the journey at the beginnings of a marriage. Summing up and paraphrasing to quickly touch on his unique interpretation I will list the main context of each movement, as he perceived them. 1st movement: honeymoon—dreamy, and carefree. 2nd movement: honeymoon over, arrival at home and at real life to discover married life is not just the honeymoon. 3rd movement: escalating tension and misunderstanding between the couple and separateness (violin—woman, and piano—man spend time alone, playing measures alone back and forth), and 4th movement: a bit of tension carried over from 3rd movement to a wonderful resolve to the couples problems as they take a walk and are happy once again. The story posed aided immensely in understanding the entertaining and delightful work by Franck, presented by Mr. Bendix-Balgley.
It was an absolutely incredible evening of music. Bendix-Balgley’s impeccable standards for the best musical quality possible are evident in every note of his music.