Best Classical Concert: Noah Bendix-Balgley 12/20/12
By Andrew Druckenbrod / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Another year, another tough decision for this music critic. How to come up with only 10 concerts that were the most memorable in 2012. I couldn’t fit in a fine recital by organist Paul Jacobs and some great concerts by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and Chatham Baroque. This marks one of the only times I have led the list off with someone other than the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra or the Pittsburgh Opera.
1. Noah Bendix-Balgley (Temple Emanuel, Jan. 29): There was electricity in the air of the Temple Emanuel in Mt. Lebanon as violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley stepped onto the stage. It was the first Pittsburgh recital of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s new concertmaster. He had been hired with much fanfare a year earlier and had impressed in his first half season as the orchestra’s leader. But the Pittsburgh music community had yet to hear the full scope of his artistry.
Among the many packed into the large worship space was nearly the entire PSO — Mr. Bendix- Balgley’s colleagues wanted to hear this, too. And did he deliver. Presented by the Diskin Music Fund, he displayed a musical sensibility that seemed to channel violinists of old. In repertoire Romantic, modern and Jewish, his dark-hued tone and slight sliding to notes evoked violinists such as Fritz Kreisler, whose famed “Liebesleid” he played as an encore. With pianist Rodrigo Ojeda, Mr. Bendix-Balgley performed Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne,” Brahms’ Scherzo in C minor from the “F.A.E.” Sonata, Joseph Achron “Hebrew Melody” and Franck’s Violin Sonata in A major. He had arrived and we were glad to have him.