Three Strikes and You're Out? Not Really: Symphony Silicon Valley Knocks it Out of the Park With Lalo and Dvorák

Let's start with Kamio, only 26 and from Japan, a rock-steady and richly expressive player who won the 2007 International Tchaikovsky Competition and has toured with the Bavarian Festival Orchestra, under the eminent conductor Ivan Fischer. Luckily for Symphony Silicon Valley, she had recently performed Lalo's deceptively titled "Symphonie espagnole" -- actually a full-out violin concerto. Resplendent with fireworks for the soloist, it's among the yummiest and most technically challenging concertos of the Romantic era.

Being a great violinist himself, Lalo composed the piece in 1874 for Pablo de Sarasate, the storied Spanish fiddler. It's one of those works of perfumed effervescence; its aromas and delicate textures seemed wafted and sharpened by Hermanto, who exuded charm and confidence, communicating easily with the orchestra. Its moonlit effects underscored Kamio's exceptional performance, which was sinuous and earthy -- throbbing with vibrato -- or unnervingly swift and precise, like colored ribbons in the wind.

The five-movement work, which touches on a series of Spanish folk forms, rhythms and dances, was sturdy and lyric throughout its 30-plus minutes. These were some highlights: Kamio's scooping of big lusty notes on her violin's low strings in the opening movement's malaguena; or the way she and the pizzicato strings, sounding like a giant guitar, sang to one another in the second movement, which sways to a traditional seguidilla rhythm; or the soloist's flawless execution of the third movement's challenging lines, built around tricky leaps across registers.

The final two movements were just as fine. It was a charmed performance by Kamio, who has often played a 1727 Stradivarius, once owned by Joseph Joachim, legendary friend and muse to Johannes Brahms. Saturday night, she merely played a Guarneri, of similar vintage.

Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News
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