Violinist and Teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Patyra Plays Paganini at the PSO


Friday, October 1st, 2010

Saturday evening, my wife and I went to hear Mariusz Patyra play the Paganini Violin Concerto #1 in D Major. It was an interesting evening.

Mr. Patyra immediately struck me as an interesting character, with just his appearance. He is tall and thin, and has a slight resemblance to John de Lancie (“Q” in Star Trek TNG) with an Art Garfunkel hairdo. He wore an Erroll Flynn-style flying-collared shirt with a mismatched coat & pants that were about 3 inches too long, giving the appearance that he had been dressed against his will. The appearance was quite comical.

However, given the piece he was going to play, and given the fact that the Plano Symphony is a very good orchestra, I figured he could handle it.

He turned out a superb performance. But you had to close your eyes to get the best effect, because he basically just stood still and played (a lot like Heifetz did). With eyes closed, however, you could easily forget that you weren’t listening to Heifetz. He was simply world-class. The audience gave him a standing ovation at the end of the first movement (some folks consider that a breach of etiquette; you are supposed to wait until the whole piece is over), and another after the end of the third movement.

My Patyra then gave an encore. I did not understand the name of the piece, nor did I recognize it. It was far less technically challenging than the Paganini, but an excellent piece to demonstrate the gorgeous tone of his “Il Cannone” 1742 copy made in Dallas in 2000 by John B. Erwin.

The remainder of the evening was not nearly so memorable. After the intermission, we heard Rossini’s Overture to William Tell, followed by Respighi’s Roman Festival. The PSO is a fine orchestra (you can close your eyes and forget that it’s not the Dallas Symphony Orchestra), and the William Tell Overture was enjoyable, but Mr. Patyra’s performance was a tough act to follow.

I did not particularly enjoy the Respighi piece. That’s not because the PSO did a poor job on it — they played quite well. I just don’t care for the piece. To me, it isn’t really music, it’s just a long collection of only marginally-related sounds, and I found myself wishing that I had gone home early in order to get some extra sleep.

I could have gone home after listening to the Paganini, and felt like I’d gotten more than my money’s worth.

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