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Young violinist pressed into service after announced soloist is forced to cancel

Oklahoma City Philharmonic explores “Pristine Visions” in works by Dvorak, Beethoven.
Oklahoman Modified: January 15, 2013 at 12:22 am •  Published: January 15, 2013

When a guest artist is forced to cancel an appearance due to illness or injury, it can really disrupt a symphony orchestra's carefully laid out plans. How quickly can a suitable replacement be engaged? Will the concert's repertoire need to be changed?

While such occurrences are infrequent, they do create unanticipated challenges for conductor and orchestra alike. Stefan Jackiw, a young violinist who made a spectacular debut with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic two seasons ago, was forced to cancel his engagement due to a recent injury. Jackiw's agent, Opus 3 Artists, offered Ryu Goto as a substitute.

The good news? Goto was happy to perform the previously announced Beethoven “Violin Concerto in D Major.” At age 24, Goto, much like any aspiring concert artist, is a work in progress. He's a distinguished looking soloist who exudes confidence and charm.

There's also a magisterial quality to his playing that beckons listeners to sit up and take notice. But the Beethoven “Violin Concerto,” which ranks as an unqualified repertory masterpiece, places enormous demands on a soloist of any age.

Many violinists, in fact, delay programming the Beethoven until they've accumulated considerable musical and life experience. The solo part is deceptively simple looking; it's an endless array of scale passages and arpeggios. But making those passages sound fully convincing requires a musical profundity that few young artists can summon.

Not to say Goto didn't have some distinct interpretive ideas about this concerto. It's just that some of his choices were inconsistent with Beethoven's score. In the opening movement, for example, Goto applied rubato to a passage that sounded more mannered than organic each time it appeared.

There was also the use of accents that the composer simply didn't call for. Such interpretive choices shoved this concerto further into music's Romantic period than accepted performance practice allows.

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