Leshnoff: Symphony gives voice to the VIOLINS of HOPE

Jonathan Leshnoff is a  talented composer. And his fourth symphony is a well-constructed work. It has engaging themes, nicely shaped melodies, and a fresh take on tonality. But for me, it didn’t have the desired effect.

The liner notes explain the concept of the work in great detail. The project Violins for Hope refurbishes instruments that survived the Holocaust — even when their owners did not. These instruments that were once heard in concentration camps now ring out in concert hall. That’s a concept that can stir powerful emotions.

Leshnoff’s symphony was composed for the Nashville Symphony playing the Violins of Hope. Logically, Leshnoff draws on Jewish culture for his work. The liner notes carefully delineate all the Hebrew references and inspirations in the symphony.

On paper, it’s a beautiful and inspiring concept. But I didn’t hear any of it. The Violins of Hope, despite their history, are just violins – and they sound like any other violin. Leshnoff’s symphony, despite all the Hebrew-inspired elements, doesn’t sound especially Jewish.

I liked the symphony, and the Nashville Symphony performs it well. But I would have had the same reaction even if I hadn’t read the liner notes.

The recording also includes two additional works by Leshnoff – the Guitar Concerto and his short orchestral work Starburst. Neither has an elaborate backstory, and neither needs one.

Jason Vieux plays the concerto with fire and spirit. I especially enjoyed his rapid passage-work and the ringing quality of his held notes.

In the end, it’s not the extra-musical elements that matter, only the sound. And based solely on the sound, I can recommend this recording.

Jonathan Leshnoff: Symphony No. 4 “Heichalos”
featuring the VIOLINS of HOPE
Guitar Concerto; Starburst
Jason Vieaux, guitar
Nashville Symphony; Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor
Naxos

More Recent Posts

  • Wed, Oct 5: Podcast Makers meet-up and “Circle of Willis” relaunch

    For good reasons, it’s been a loooong time since we gathered in person. But now, Charlottesville Podcast Makers meetups are back! This week, let’s get together for some camaraderie and networking — Wednesday, October 5, 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Stage at WTJU, 2244 Ivy Road. This meetup doubles as a relaunch event for […]

  • WorldView Episode 32: Henryk Wieniawski

    Tags: , , , ,

           In addition to his prolific career as a composer, Henryk Wieniawski is considered to be one of the greatest violinists of all time. With over 50 works to his name, Wieniawski remains one of Poland’s most well-known classical artists, along with Krzysztof Penderecki (WorldView Ep. 4) and Ignacy Jan Paderewski (Ep. 13).  […]

  • #ClassicsaDay #FallConcert Week 4

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    What’s on the program for your local performing arts organization? The Classics a Day team wants to know! For the month of September, you’re invited to post a work that your local symphony, chamber music ensemble, or choral society will be performing this fall. There’s a lot of great music-making going on. Let’s share it […]

  • Bobby Thompson at Offbeat Roadhouse, Oct 7

    Tags: , , , , ,

    Blues man Bobby Thompson will pull into Offbeat Roadhouse Friday night, October 7, for a concert which will also be broadcast on WTJU. This is a free event, open to all. Masks are strongly encouraged for all attendees.  You can also listen to Offbeat Roadhouse on the radio (91.1 FM) or on-line, and even video stream it at WTJU’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.  But […]

  • WTJU is hiring! Office & Volunteer Coordinator

    WTJU Radio is looking for an Office & Volunteer Coordinator to maintain smooth operations, promote the station to the public, and recruit & train volunteers for this volunteer-powered media organization. In this role, the incumbent’s work will be in three primary areas: Office Coordination Volunteer & Outreach Coordiation Development Support Read the full job description […]

  • WorldView Episode 31: Dobrinka Tabakova

    Tags: , , , ,

           Works by British-Bulgarian composer Dobrinka Tabakova have been performed worldwide, including by the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields and in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II  at her Golden Jubilee. The grammy nominated artist, now 42, is an active voice in the redefinition of modern classical music and is featured in […]