This weekend brings yet another stellar violinist to the Oregon Symphony, this time it’s returning soloist Stefan Jackiw (pronounced JACK-eev). He played some superb Mozart on his last visit, and this time he’s playing Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, a work that’s most often heard being butchered by young aspiring contestants at solo and ensemble competitions every spring. So it’s nice to hear it getting the star treatment this week in rehearsals. Jackiw is a very intense, young violinist, but so at ease in his technical facility on the instrument. His production of sound is effortless, and he has a flexible, slender, silvery sound that Isaac Stern could only dream of possessing.
This week’s program is built around the idea of the use of folk songs in classical repertoire, with Britten’s late Suite on English Folk Tunes, Op. 90; Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture (based upon student drinking songs), and the Scottish Fantasy (which derives all of its tunes from the Scottish folk literature). The black sheep of the group is Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, which mainly works by keeping the music in a lighter vein – it’s some of Beethoven’s happiest and light-hearted music, and a blast to play. This is Resident conductor Gregory Vajda’s last classical series concert with us – he’s leaving at the end of the season to develop his post as music director of the Huntsville Symphony in Huntsville, Alabama – and I hope you’ll come to the concerts to bid him a warm farewell.