My second concert of the day at the Festival took me over the river to the Mozarteum, where the Camerata Salzburg took the stage. A fine chamber orchestra, they provided a fuller sound than their numbers might have indicated. On the podium, the young Italian Lorenzo Viotti generally had a clear idea of what he wanted to present, and the orchestra generally followed him – but he may need more seasoning.
The indubitable star of the evening was the soloist, a young Armenian violinist (apparently 32 years old, although he looks even younger): Sergey Khachatryan, who confidently delivered Beethoven‘s soaring concerto. His tone remained warm, but edgy enough to not ever become too sweet, masterfully expressing Beethoven’s lines. This work is normally a series of dialogues between the soloist and individual members of the orchestra, but Viotti chose to move them all to the same side of the conversation, with the violinst first among equals in presenting to the audience. While this may have worked for the first movement, and maybe some of the third, it broke down in the more thinly-orchestrated middle movement, the orchestra not providing the appropriate accompaniment – often disjointed – while Khachatryan forged on regardless.
A triumphant applause enticed Khachatryan back out for an encore: an arrangement of an Armenian folk song, in which he sang several octaves of wistful melody on his instrument.
After the intermission, Viotti and the Camerata shed Khachatryan and gave us Schumann‘s third symphony. Viotti’s exuberance – to match the music, of course – did lead to some ragged edges with the orchestra not quite all together. But when they did come together they crafted a bold and evocative tone poem depicting Schumann’s delight at his arrival on the Rhine.