Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: Sato and the Romantics

Paganini (1782-1840) was the classical rock star of his time, stunning audiences with his striking appearance and his flamboyant virtuosity on the violin, which none could emulate — until now.

The young Japanese performer Shunske Sato has hit Sydney with his debut performance of the Paganini Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor that left the City Recital Hall normally sedate audience rising to its collective feet and screaming for an encore at the end of his opening night performance.

Sato did not duplicate Paganini’s favourite party trick of walking onto the stage with three of the four strings of his violin ostentatiously dangling from his instrument – a clear indication he would be playing only on the remaining string.

But Sato did use an instrument strung with gut strings rather than the more traditional nylon to achieve a sound that allowed him to coax the most extraordinary “vocals” from his instrument.

His violin cried plaintively, it whispered seductively, it hit the high notes and the low notes with such a sublime intensity that you realised you were in the presence of a master musician giving a once in a lifetime experience for his Sydney audience.

At times, Sato’s left hand astonishingly took on the melody, producing a breathtaking sliding scale that wrung the emotion from Paganini’s score.

Sato notes of the piece, “There is the tightrope-walking and having a left-hand like Elastigirl from The Incredibles, but beautiful, lyrical moments are just as plenty”.

Sato also plays Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 3 in E Minor, written when he was just 12-years-old, and Grieg’s hauntingly beautiful Holberg Suite.

This is definitely a concert not to be missed!

Until Sep 17. Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, City Recital Hall, Tickets $32-$173

By Irina Dunn