Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 4, 2013

Violinist Caroline Goulding

Springfield Symphony, Springfield, MA
February 2, 2013
by David Chivers

From her opening notes in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, 19-year-old violinist Caroline Goulding grabbed hold of both the piece and the audience, and didn’t let go, giving a lively, engaging performance that belied her youth. Not surprisingly, she displayed technical brilliance (not surprising, because why else would someone so young even be asked to solo in such piece.) What was even more rewarding though was the emotion and maturity that enveloped her playing. She not only ripped through the quick and tricky runs and high trills, but also brought deep, sonorous sounds and mood from the lower, quieter moments of the piece. Playing a Stradivarius, she used the full capabilities of the instrument to fill Symphony Hall with the beautiful strains of this violinist’s masterpiece. Her tone was remarkable, her interpretation of the Mendelssohn both strong and subtle.

Goulding, dressed in a deep blue gown, created an engaging physical presence to her performance as well, leaning forward in the melodious moments, dipping and bending in the energetic passages, seemingly at one with the music and her reading of it. And the audience responded to her performance with a well-deserved standing ovation.

The Springfield Symphony’s program to bring young, vibrant, emerging artists to play with them is shown to be a wise strategy, allowing the artist a chance to perform with a professional orchestra, and giving Springfield audiences a chance to hear soloists destined to be international stars in the near future.

The other two pieces on the program, the short Bach air to begin the night, and after intermission, Mozart's Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”) -- a masterwork with melodies familiar to even the casual classical fan. A strong orchestra can make even mediocre pieces sound good. A mediocre orchestra can be carried through a performance by the strength of proven masterwork. So when a wonderful orchestra such as the Springfield Symphony plays wonderful music, such as here, it’s easy to just sit back and have its beauty wash over the audience while barely noticing the skill and adeptness of the playing. It is a credit to the Orchestra (especially its marvelous string section featured throughout) and Maestro Rhoades that these classics roll out with seeming effortlessness. The pieces provided excellent bookends to a wonderful night of music.