PSO’s Scottish Flavor Appealing
Elizabeth Bloom, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 26th, 2013
Mr. Bendix-Balgley, who was playing on his new 1732 Bergonzi violin, gave an expressive performance, his playing at once full-bodied then precise. In the first movement, he paired well with harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen. She was featured near the front of the stage — a pointed reference to Bruch’s use of the instrument, which is itself an acknowledgement of the important role of harp in Scottish music. This was an effective choice, highlighting the interplay between the harp and the nearby solo violin and creating complementary textures.
During a gorgeous third movement, Mr. Bendix-Balgley seemed to play with a Scottish twang, lopsided but lyrical. He delivered a powerful, chill-inducing interval that began the penultimate “animated” section. The fourth movement, drawn from a Scottish war song, was gritty and patriotic, although faster passages were occasionally less articulate. His equally impressive encore was the Gavotte en Rondeau from Bach’s Partita No. 3.