CONCERT REVIEW | Alabama Symphony Masterworks

Benjamin Beilman
Arts Birmingham

Twenty years from now, a young, up-and-coming violinist might stare out at the filled rows of Jemison Concert Hall. She might then pause before the music begins and reflect that it was here, watching another young star perform two decades prior, that she decided to take up the bow.

That is the power and privilege of artists like Benjamin Beilman: to go beyond showing us their own talent, personality or the talent and personality of the composer, and to give us a glimpse of the sum potential of their instrument. To inspire others. While the 27-year-old Beilman gave his revelatory performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Friday night during the Alabama Symphony Orchestra‘s final 2016-17 Masterworks concert, I noticed a few families with small children and could not help but wonder.

Beilman’s palette of colors and timbres was inexhaustible, ranging from brassiness to a silken tone that had the purity of a human voice. His technique kept these traits apparent even while executing countless stratospherically-high harmonics or huge leaps down the fingerboard. Every note had been thought of, given attention, and absorbed into a musical idea. Beilman was not an especially demonstrative performer, and he did not need to be. Everything he wanted to communicate came so clearly from his instrument.

His musical choices leaned towards interiority?pulling away more often than pushing and driving. That is, until the end of the first movement, when he whipped guest conductor Andreas Delfs and the ASO into a frenzied tempo. Should audiences abandon the 20th century mandate to hold applause until the end of the last movement? Beilman’s performance convinced me they should. In the case of romantic-era rock-star warhorses like this concerto, it is probably prudish anyway.

When he had been brought out three times to thunderous applause, Beilman graced the hall with the Gavotte en Rondeau from J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E major.
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