By Lawrence Budmen

The surefire combination of a rising podium star, a popular violin virtuoso, and a German orchestra playing its core Central European repertoire filled the Broward Center with warm vibrations on February 6 when the Concert Association presented the Hamburg Symphony under Andrey Boreyko with violinist Robert McDuffie doing the solo honors in the popular violin concerto by Max Bruch.

There is a buzz in the music world about Boreyko and for good reason. The young Russian conductor is a firebrand who brings imagination, subtlety, and fervor to every work he conducts. While the Hamburg ensemble is not a first tier orchestra, Boreyko obtained some finely nuanced playing. Clearly he works well with this group and is molding a distinctive musical profile. The Hamburg strings are particularly strong, producing that warm, rounded tone that is quintessentially European.

Boreyko’s fast paced reading of Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture was a sprightly opener. His elegant shaping of the piece’s second theme was particularly felicitous.

McDuffie is an aristocrat of the violin. His gorgeously rich, vibrant tone caresses the ear. McDuffie gave an impassioned, emotional reading of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor. While the performance’s heart was the violinist’s rapturous, glowing account of the serene Adagio, McDuffie was not lacking in pyrotechnics. The concluding Allegro energico was a brilliant display of virtuoso pizzazz. Boreyko and the Hamburgers provided alert support. 

From the first bars of Brahms’s Symphony No.1 in C minor, it was obvious that this orchestra truly inhabits this music. The silvery sound of the violins and the dark toned lower strings in the Andante sostenuto was something really special. Boreyko’s perfect pacing and rapt intensity produced a performance of regal, idiomatic Brahmsian grandeur. The beautifully balanced winds sparkled in the graceful Allegretto. Boreyko pulled all the stops out for a fiery reading of the Finale. (The horns glowed sonorously in the famous chorale theme.)

In response to an enthusiastic standing ovation, Boreyko turned to his native repertoire for an encore. The Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker was played with vivacious élan.

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