It will always be hard for Augustin Hadelich to top the impact of his appearance at the Granada last year on January 16, 2018. As soloist with the St. Louis Symphony, he and the other musicians, along with the big truck carrying their instruments, made a heroic dash up Interstate route 5 when Highway 101 was closed due to the Montecito debris flow. The resulting concert was one of the first events following the disaster, and it buoyed spirits here so effectively that Hadelich could be considered an honorary second responder.
His return to our city last Wednesday may have lacked both the suspense and the orchestra of last year’s concert, but this recital with pianist Orion Weiss nevertheless displayed touches of heroic grandeur, at least when it comes to mastery of one’s instrument and the material. The opening work, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 23, established both the authoritative control of tempo and structure that Weiss is capable of from the keyboard, and the degree to which Hadelich’s style matches his playing in technique and virtuosity.
Subsequent numbers took us on a tour of France, Spain, and Belgium, in the company of Claude Debussy, Francisco Coll, and Eugène Ysaÿe. Hadelich was particularly dazzling on Debussy’s Sonata in G Minor, L. 140, the only work in the genre the French composer ever wrote, and a tour de force for the violin. Following the intermission, there was a ravishing sonata from Brahms, more Debussy, and a two-part finale of music by American composers: John Adams’s Road Movies and an encore of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown.”