Violinist Tasmin Little is a big hit with Seattle Symphony audience

John Sutherland Nwsource 03/13/2009 11:46 PM

English violinist Tasmin Little tackled a demanding Seattle Symphony program of Elgar and Dvorak with panache on March 12.

English violinist Tasmin Little continued her residence with the Seattle Symphony this week with a weighty slab of English beef, the Elgar Violin Concerto. One could hardly find more contrast to her performances last week of "The Four Seasons." The Elgar concerto is nearly an hour long, and requires much of the soloist and the orchestra, not to mention the audience.

Little was certainly up to it. The orchestra began with its full, consonant string sound, putting this early 20th-century piece solidly back in the Romantic era, preparing the way for Little's entrance. The opening solo passages are written in the lower registers of the violin. They produce a very English, understated melancholy that Little completely rode with. The instrument itself seemed to lean toward darker tones, even when played in the higher registers. The Andante second movement was lighter, sweeter, and ventured into stratospheric territory.

The finale was full of rewards for the patient listener. The orchestra opened with grandeur, forming waves that Little skipped over like a mad sprite. It's always a joy to witness an artist with this kind of life-spark, who really connects with the music, with her instrument, with listeners. The audience's response to her was thunderous.