Music Review: Sarasota Orchestra ends season with an adventurous ride

"Corigliano’s Violin Concerto (“The Red Violin”) is a delicious addition to the solo violin repertoire so heavily weighted in the 19th century. In this case, the rich melodic baby was not thrown out with the bathwater. Soloist Elina Vähälä played the demanding score with great passion and bravura evoking a vision of Paganini’s sister."

Gayle Williams, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Violinist adds to virtuosity to atmospheric BPO concert

The Adagio was the highlight. The beautiful music spotlighted Vahala's full, rich tone. The galloping last movement brought back the excitement of the first. Vahala's virtuosity was matched by the orchestra's. The blasts of brass, the rumbles of timpani, everything made for great drama and build-ups of sound. Even when the music was over, the theater wasn't over. Vahala, in her gorgeous gown, swept over to embrace Falletta and shake the hand of concertmaster Dennis Kim. The crowd rose and applauded. It was one of those wonderful live music moments. I think all the listeners were glad they ventured out in the snow.

Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News

"Vahala is a supremely musical performer, with outstanding technique, which never overshadowed the lyricism of her playing."

Mervin Beng, Straits Times
Review: Violinist owns modern American masterpiece at Boulder's Colorado Music Festival

In the first movement — which is most closely associated with the film score — Vähälä immediately drew in the listeners with her mastery of Corigliano's special effects while at the same time she and the orchestra established the main theme in their minds.

Kelly Dean Hansen, Daily Camera
Petrenko and Vähälä shine in a Houston Symphony program with Italian flair

"Vähälä’s interpretation of the chaconne was thoroughly committed. She navigated the difficult double-stops, including a cadenza, with security and projected the expressive intensity of the soaring melodic lines. In terms of both her playing and the composition as a whole, this was the most successful movement."

Lawrence Wheeler, Texas Classical Review

"Elina Vähälä gave a fabulous performance, her superb technique serving deeply committed musicianship (she played from memory) and she was accompanied in virtuoso fashion."

Colin Anderson, Classical Source

"Shimmying up to the top registers of the violin, Vähälä unfurled the delicate tendrils of her melody while the diaphanous orchestral colours shimmered delectably in the background."

Andrew Larkin, Bachtrack
The Red Violin: Concertos by Kuusisto & Corigliano

"Vähälä’s affinity for, and love of, this music produces playing of extraordinary precision in technique and expression.

"Elina Vähälä attacks this new piece with power and confidence..."

John Miller,
Rare Copland ballet highlights all-American DSO concert

"Soloist Elina Vahala was terrific, roaring through the blazing Paganini-like passages, leaning into the hyper-romantic melodies and glissandos, projecting Bach-like double-stops to the back of the hall with a fulsome sound."

Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press
With help from a favorite soloist, guest conductor Thierry Fischer makes a fine first impression with the Oregon Symphony
"Vähälä was herself inspiring, not merely in her tremendous technical facility but also in her intense focus and direct communication, which meshed well with Fischer and the rest of the players. The cadenza was fantastic, both as a terrific virtuoso display and as a clear exposition of how the piece was built."
James McQuillen, The Oregonian
"Vähälä is splendid in that opening movement, with its extended discursive paragraphs and emotional range, all steadily unfolded.... She brings a gossamer touch to the quicksilver scherzo, plangent warmth and beauty to the Andante and wild energy to the finale." Read More...
Tim Homfray, The Strad
Lahti Symphony brings Finland's music to BA
"Then followed a wonderful version of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, perhaps the most perfectly integrated I have heard live. Vähälá was simply great in this most difficult of concerti, never failing in her concentration and phrasing of the utmost fidelity to the score along with marvels of clean technique."
Buenos Aires Herald
Something exquisite for violin lovers
"... young Finnish violinist Elina Vahala ... a player of the absolute front rank.... Michael Ludwig and Joshua Bell have recorded it [Corigliano's Violin Concerto] - but Vahala is as good as either."
John Button, The Dominion Post (New Zealand)
Calgary Philharmonic's Northern Lights sparkle
"Vahala is immensely accomplished as a performer. She has all the varieties of tone and colour the concerto requires, as well as a generous sound. Her playing was intense, and intensely musical, the concerto a true odyssey in sound.

"From the hushed opening, with its magical, unusual melody, to the energetic finale, the performance captivated the audience, which listened with rare concentration. I especially enjoyed the enigmatic second movement, the unusual colours in the solo part and in the orchestra beautifully treated. In all, this was one of the finest accounts of the concerto I have heard and certainly one of the best overall performances of the season."

Kenneth Delong, Calgary Herald

“This concert was of exeptional quality. Elina Vähälä’s playing is expressive, sensitive and tempestuous ... intense and smooth sound, impeccable intonation, a lively bow arm, all with an easy mastery, a clarity of sonority when each note bursts with life and each phrase leads to the next.

"Fiery temperament, brilliant and pure playing - in a recital like this one feels that there is a guaranteed future for music.”

Le Droit

“There was a high level of energy, a careful but passionate attention to detail and a high sense of music’s technical and emotional structure.

"In Schubert’s Duo for violin and piano one was constantly struck with the suppleness and sheer beauty of the violin sound."

Ottawa Citizen

“Impeccable accuracy, a sound that sang, radient and luminous; this young woman shows herself to be a soloist of the highest rank whose ease and presence place her among the rising glories of the violin.”

Le Monde

“Vähälä was clearly the evening's star and the Schnittke her showpiece. Both violinist and pianist threw themselves into the sonata...Vähälä offering a vividly athletic performance that managed to appear untamed but was, in fact, perfectly in control.”

Los Angeles Times
“In Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, the playing of Elina Vähälä -- was a continuous stream of virtuosity, hushed at certain times, heroically brave at others. The cadenza was stunning in its control of diverse elements and the danse macabre of the finale was a tour de force of marrying technique with a joy of life.”
Classical Source
“The violin concerto was dazzling, with sublime playing from Elina Vähälä, whose strikingly beautiful musicianship was set against a shimmering background. With rises and falls, light and shade, it was the highlight of the evening.”
Shropshire Star
Oregon Symphony and guest violinist Elina Vähälä shine in season opener
“Vähälä delivered an insightful performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor. In lesser hands, this piece would have sounded elusive and disjointed, but Vähälä more than surmounted the mercurial nature of Prokofiev’s music and all of its virtuosic requirements. The most beautiful moments came in the second movement when the sweet sounds from her violin enhanced the melodic themes against the metronomic tic-toc of the orchestra. The last movement had a distinct Spanish flavor, with Vähälä’s brusque and fleet violin dominating the foreground and the brief riffs of principal percussionist Niel DePonte’s castanets ringing in the background.”
James Bash, Oregon Music News
Oregon Symphony closes season with haunting Britten Violin Concerto and emotional Mahler Symphony No. 1
“Vähälä, who was born in the United States and raised in Finland, gave a spellbinding performance of Britten’s Violin Concerto. Deftly altering her sound from sweet to angry and agitated, Vähälä navigated expertly through the mercurial waters of this treacherous piece. At one moment, her playing – even the pizzicati passages – could be aggressive and in the next moment she could change into a placid and liquid-smooth section with chameleon-like ease. Vähälä played it all cleaning and with conviction, including a spectacular cadenza that juxtaposed extremely high notes against low notes followed by a wild melody in which she plucked strings at the same time.”
James Bash, Oregon Music News
Joseph Haydn: Violin Concertos
“Elina Vähälä, whose playful flair makes an attractive contrast with the rather hard-edged orchestral playing … Vähälä who is nothing if not photogenic, is a fine Haydn interpreter with a strong sense of the composer's humor. Sample her confident playing in the finale of the Violin Concerto in G major, Hob. 7a/4, where the violin extracts a jolly line from the orchestra's mock-weighty quasi-fugal texture at the beginning.”
James Manheim, All Music
""Music from France often gets labeled as vaporous, perfumed abstraction. But as violinist Elina Vähälä played Fauré and Debussy at the National Gallery of Art on Sunday evening, the prevailing image wasn't mist -- it was fire.

"Throughout the program, Vähälä displayed a fondness and talent for hard, fast passages and was impressive not just for her technical proficiency but also for her ability to make them musically and emotionally potent"

Washington Post
Beethoven Delivered with Spirit

“Vähälä, a Grace Kelly look-alike who cut an exceedingly glamorous figure on the stage, took over as soloist for two Beethoven Romances for Violin and Orchestra. She is a patrician, confident player with a big, smooth tone that poured out the long-lined melodies with true beauty.”

Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times
A Violinist With Technique And a Tone of Many Colors
"Her delicacy of sound and rhythm in the third movement was marvelous, as was her drive in the finale, again without any exaggeration or risk to tone. She breathed each movement, and even the whole sonata, as one."
Paul Griffiths, New York Times
Total: 26 (Viewing: 1–26)