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Published February 14 2010

Concert review: Midori delivers ‘stunning’ performance

The reserved, understated Midori Goto who gave interviews to the media Friday at Concordia College was nowhere to be found at Saturday night’s Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra Masterworks concert.

In her place was a passionate, evocative, affecting master of the violin and a well of energy.

“She’s the most expressive musician I’ve ever heard,” Moorhead resident Michael Hughey said after the performance at North Dakota State University’s Festival Concert Hall. And he says he’s “heard a lot of musicians.”

Midori wowed the sold-out crowd as part of her five-day residency in the area (today’s show is also sold out, FMSO Executive Director Linda Coates said before Saturday’s concert). Midori’s navigation of the light-to-the-touch as well as virtuosic passages in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major was jaw-droppingly good.

Not only was Midori’s playing deeply musical and widely diverse in its tonal coloration, but she was in utter command of the dynamics emanating from her violin.

One particular passage in which she played alone was powerfully evocative. She dug deeply into the strings as if to pull out timbre buried deeply within the instrument. It was as if she was taking it violently by the throat and commanding it to do her bidding. And it did so to wonderful effect.

If you are catching today’s concert with Midori, first count your blessings and then note the briskness and flavor of her trills and the creamy smoothness of her musicianship.

“It feels like she’s not playing the music; she is the music,” Dasha Zabelina, an NDSU psychology graduate student, said after the show.

Midori’s stage presence was animated. At points she moved robotically, almost convulsively, such that her form resembled that of an animatronic figure.

Amid all the virtuosity (and there was plenty), there lurked something very connective in Midori’s playing. There is a rare emotional conveyance in her work. There is something personal, accessible, almost familiar in the music she makes.

“I thought she was absolutely stunning,” Zabelina said.

Though Midori was destined to be the star of the evening, she was not the only noteworthy portion. The orchestra opened the concert alongside the F-M Area Youth Symphonies’ Senior High Strings. In fact, the group that performed Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasy on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” was composed entirely of string players.

But the night was mostly Midori’s, as well it should be. And she demonstrated why she is considered among the best in the world at what she does.

If you go

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734