Review: Florida Orchestra soloist is crystal clear on Korngold violin concerto

Published March 14, 2014

Caroline Goulding, featured soloist with the Florida Orchestra this weekend, deserves to play a Stradivarius. Her technique is impeccable, her musicality noteworthy. And it's a shame she performed to a fairly empty hall Friday morning at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Perhaps attendance was low because the orchestra performed three pieces from the 20th century, one that's notorious for many works people find hard to enjoy. Or maybe potential audience members just don't know how incredible the second movement of Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 can be when performed well.

The Korngold violin concerto, on the other hand, can seem a bit rambling at times. Honestly, better pieces have been written to showcase the violin, but listening to Goulding more than made up the difference. Her ability to draw a gorgeous tone was crystal clear in the second movement of the concerto, which is a sensitive romance. Watching her communicate so expressively was a rare treat.

Goulding's brilliance was especially stimulating after the orchestra's performance of Thomas Adès' Dances from Powder Her Face, which seemed to lack a certain amount of needed energy. Nothing was particularly off, but it was obvious that the Adès' work was the least popular. It would have taken much more enthusiasm to really sell the piece. Stuart Malina, who conducted the concert, had already motioned for the orchestra to stand before the audience started clapping.

After intermission, the Prokofiev symphony could have carried itself, but the orchestra's performance was equally as enthralling. In the second and fourth movements, the unrelenting energy was positively exciting. The clarinet section had quite a few standout moments throughout and probably should have received more recognition than they did at the end of the concert.