At the end of my first hearing, I thought if Tchaikovsky were alive and had been sitting in that audience, he would have wept, realizing Midori had made his music her own.
Most people remember her as the fourteen year-old girl who broke two E strings during her performance of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto (a difficult piece) in Tanglewood with conductor Leonard Bernstein. Unfazed, she had turned to the first violinist and switched her 7/8 sized violin for his full sized and resumed playing. The first violinist later said he first though she wanted him to fix the sting but then realized what she was doing. Soon, she broke his E string and turned to the second violinist and borrowed his. Bernstein had to pause the orchestra about two beats the first time, but the second time she switched violins and resumed playing in a fluid motion. After the performance, Bernstein enthusiastically fawned over her; and the audience went wild.
It’s this kind of confidence that allows Midori to play to the edge, to produce the raw emotion from music not always known for unbridled sentiment. I’m so very glad I discovered this artist. She’s the benchmark. Everyone else is just plucking strings.
According to Wikipedia, Midori’s violin is the 1731 Guarnerius del Gesù “ex-Huberman” on lifetime loan from the Hayashibara Foundation.