Italian violinist Anna Tifu returned to the Al Bustan International Music Festival stage for the third time this year, with her concert “Sinfonia Italiana” Saturday night.
Joined by the Al Bustan Festival Academy Orchestra under the baton of Gianluca Marciano, the performance offered two of Mendelssohn’s most popular compositions “Violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64” and “Symphony No.4 ‘Italiana.’”
Born in Cagliari, Tifu made her first solo debut at the age of 11 with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire. By 12 she performed the “Bruch Violin Concerto” at La Scala in Milan and went on to win first prize at the Viotti Valsesia International Competition.
Her adult career has seen her perform in many of the world’s most prestigious music halls, such as Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica and Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.
This edition of the festival is especially celebrating Italian classical music and artists. The “Sinfonia Italiana” concert summons a pleasingly humorous image: Tifu, an Italian, playing the music of a German composer, inspired by Italy.
The concert began with Tifu joining the orchestra dressed in a pale yellow gown. Her sections of the concerto’s first allegro movement showed off the duality of her skill one moment playing out quick, lively stokes and other times sounding the delicate notes of a solo section.
The second andante movement offered a sweet melody with more percussion and horn accompaniment, whereas the finale showed the composer’s signature scherzo style with the vibrant, playful energy of the final movement.
Tifu and the orchestra’s string section executed the movement’s back-and-forth melody lines skillfully, much to the delight of the audience.
Having concluded her part of the concert, Tifu acquiesced to the raucous encore call, playing a wonderful solo from the last movement of “Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 27, No. 2” by Eugene Ysaye.
The concert’s second half, performed without Tifu, saw the orchestra play the symphony piece, inspired by Mendelssohn’s travels around Italy between 1829 and 1831, and the splendor he witnessed there.
The first allegro movement – which, with an infectious triplet dance rhythm, had the audience bopping along in their seats – contrasted with the somber theme of the second movement a slow, staccato heavy andante.
The third movement, a major-key minuet with horns in the background could serve as a fanfare, played enthusiastically by the whole orchestra.
Marciano’s animated conducting could truly be appreciated in the final movements, where the music contained many elements, rising and falling in harmony.
The finale, arranged as a quick, traditional Italian peasant dance called saltarello, brought the whole orchestra’s finesse together for a dramatic, celebratory finish.
Though an encore was demanded by the audience, an extra number was not played.
The concert overall was an enjoyable evening for both Mendelssohn fans, lovers of the violin or those simply discovering classical music for the first time.