This was the performance at the Symphony Hall concert by Hugh Wolff and the NEC Philharmonia (which happened to take place on Sergei Prokofiev’s birthday) that got the rock’n’rollers in the control all excited — this no-holds-barred performance by NEC Artist Diploma candidate Xiang “Angelo” Yu of the Violin Concerto No. 1. A piece that Prokofiev wrote around the time of the Russian Revolution (e.g., 1917), but not premiered until several years later in Paris.
The story goes that Prokofiev’s concerto took a while to catch on, particularly because despite the fact that the Paris premiere was led by no less a figure than Serge Koussevitsky, the soloist was not one of the major virtuosi of the day. As the late Michael Steinberg put it in his invariably-excellent program notes:
Marcel Darrieux, Koussevitzky’s Paris concertmaster, was a solid musician and an able violinist, but he lacked the spark to make a convincing case for the piece,
Might’ve been a different story if Angelo had played it!
Check out his thoughtful comments at the start of the piece, too, skillfully brought out by my co-conspirator James David Jacobs….