By Lawrence Budmen

When some of the worldís most distinguished musicians are part of the audience for a music event in South Florida, something special is happening. On September 16 Sunday Afternoons of Music opened its 27th season with an exciting recital by Aaron Rosand, the last of the great violinists from the 19th century Russian romantic tradition. Among those on hand (in the nearly capacity crowd at the UM Gusman Concert Hall) were the four members of the Amernet String Quartet and violinists Ida Haendel (a legend in her own right) and Elmar Olivera, Tchaikovsky Competition winner and new faculty member at Boca Ratonís Lynn University School of Music. 

The Rosand sound remains indelible Ė dark, richly burnished tone with an inner core of molten lava. His deeply probing musicianship makes each piece something special. A Rosand performance never sounds like the work of any other violinist. At 80 his playing remains impressive. If he were a thirty something player, he would be considered a real comer. Few artists can continue to produce such passionate, intricately woven music making at this late stage in their career. It was great to see many music students from local colleges in the audience. Rosandís performance was a vivid demonstration of undiminished artistry and technical longevity.

The opening chords of Brahmsí Scherzo in C minor were crisp and brusque, Rosandís quick dexterity in full play. In the opening Allegro Amabile of Brahmsí Sonata No.2 in A Major, the cleanly articulated, singing line (with every note perfectly placed) was striking. Rosandís finely chiseled simplicity of phrase was a revelation in the lovely Andante Tranquillo. A briefly out of sync sequence with accompanist Robert Koenig in the Allegretto Grazioso finale could not obscure the dark hued warmth of Rosandís playing. Indeed Koenig was an ideal collaborator. His pianism was always elegant, musical, and finely nuanced. Joseph Joachimís transcriptions of Brahmsí Hungarian Dances Nos. 2 and 4 were a terrific finale for the concertís first half. Unleashing Gypsy violinistic fireworks galore, Rosandís double stops were astounding! 

Ernest Chaussonís Poeme has become a Rosand signature piece. His evocative, purely articulated, ultra romantic performance was magical. Rosandís creamy, singing line and high voltage intensity sent this gorgeous vignette into luminous musical orbit. Only the absence of Chaussonís richly colored orchestration detracted from this stellar rendition.

Rosand brought humid Mediterranean aura and haunting color to Pablo de Sarasateís Malaguena. How wonderful it was to hear Sir Arthur Benjaminís Jamaican Rumba again (in violist William Primroseís dare devil arrangement). Once a Jascha Heifetz staple, this 1938 vignette was tossed off with irresistible verve by Rosand, the triple stops brilliantly essayed. The violinistís own transcription of Glazunovís Meditation sang with searing lyricism and mystical rapture. The Gypsy inflected bravura of Jeno Hubayís Heure Kati offered razzle dazzle fiddling at lightning speed for a super finale. 

In response to repeated standing ovations and cheers, Rosand brought poignant, moving elegance to Nathan Milsteinís transcription of Chopinís elegiac Nocturne in C-sharp minor. What would a Rosand recital be without some music by Fritz Kreisler? Rosandís version of Schon Rosmarin was utterly enchanting. His schmaltzy bravura recalled the way Mischa Elman and Kreisler himself played this music. A wonderful piece of Old Vienna to conclude an electrically charged afternoon of fine music making! 

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