The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's final Strathmore program of the season happens to coincide with the end of a very busy one for violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. To celebrate a successful year for both, Saturday's concert will climax in the performance of Tchaikovsky's passionate Violin Concerto.
"One of the great things about the 'Tchyke' is that everybody loves it -- it's arguably the most popular violin concerto," said Salerno-Sonnenberg. "It's a crowd-pleaser, and that is pleasing to me."
Her term of endearment for a composer most people call Tchaikovsky is only natural, since it is a piece she has known for a very long time -- one she feels actually made her career.
|BSO Classical Concert: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg performs Tchaikovsky|
|» Where: Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda|
|» When: 8 p.m. Saturday|
|» Info: $38 to $98; 410-783-8000; bsomusic.org|
"What's meaningful about this [program] is that I recorded this concerto with Marin [Alsop] ... so it's very special to play it with her," Salerno-Sonnenberg continued. "I've also played with the Baltimore Symphony so many times since I was a very little kid. So it's a combination of three elements: me and the orchestra and Marin. I think this is going to be a phenomenal concert."
Taking a break from practice, this award-winning violinist maintains the Violin Concerto still demands a great deal of time and attention.
"It's hard to keep the 'Tchyke' fresh; it's extremely repetitive and very physical," she said. "He wrote this concert after a failed marriage, and that really explains a lot."
However, with maturity comes a new understanding for a piece that heretofore was mere technical prowess.
"As you grow older, you find different ways of performing the [concerto] and different ways of expending energy so it lasts for the whole piece," Salerno-Sonnenberg said. "It's a gorgeous concerto [with] extraordinary moments."
The Violin Concerto is both a technical and very physical composition, and as such, she aims for the musicality within those technical passages.
"These are the things you notice when you get older. As a mature musician, you find things in every piece of music that you would never have found when you were young," she said. "You have to practice over and over again to find the playfulness in it; the harmonic progression. And that is something that someone who's played the piece for many years would naturally look for."
Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," a 1913 composition with bizarre orchestration and percussive dissonances that continues to thrill today's listeners, is also on the program.