PUNTA GORDA — Music critics around the world have called Jeffrey Multer a “passionate…amazing…extraordinary …overwhelming” violinist, “with blinding talent.”
He was all that and more, twice, Sunday evening playing for maestro Raffaele Ponti and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center in Punta Gorda.
Multer brought his violin from around the world to play Max Bruch’s most famous work, “Violin Concerto No. 1, G Minor, Op. 26,” a dazzling performance that culminated with his audience on their feet cheering and shouting for bows during three curtain calls.
Then, unexpectedly – and unusual for a solo performer – Multer came back after intermission to sit in with the Violin 1 section for Johannes Brahms celebrated final work, “Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98.”
Violinist Paul Urbanick, behind whom Multer sat during the symphony, marveled, calling his work “liquid gold.
While Multer’s violin captured the audience, so did his animated style. During his three-part solo performance, he literally gyrated in place, twisting and moving his body with the music, nodding and smiling in interaction with guest concertmaster Ming Gao and the audience.
Sitting with the violin section for Brahms, Multer almost came out of his seat at times as he attacked the music with animated gusto.
Ponti chose a format Sunday similar to the orchestra’s performance on Jan. 13 – when it opened with an energetic overture to famous opera, Richard Wagner’s “Tannhauser,” followed by renowned saxophonist Timothy McAllister, and a symphony from a master composer, Antonin Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 6 in D Major.”
Sunday’s opening piece was the overture from Russian composer Milkaill Glinks’s 1842 opera, “Rusland and Lyudmilla.” Again its rousing finish set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Brahms’ Fourth was his final symphony. It’s at times a somber, almost brooding work, composed in 1884-85, as Brahms was dying. It was last performed in his presence on March 7, 1887, by the Vienna Philharmonic. He died less than a month later on April 3, 1887.
It has been described as an emotional journey reflecting his life, ending in tragedy instead of triumph.
It is at times vigorous; at others, mourning. Yet its third part, allegro giocoso, was upbeat. And its fourth, allegro energico e passionato, provided, as it sounds, a grand finale of passion and energy in the final bars, delighting the audience.
Multer is concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra in Tampa, and assistant concertmaster of the All-Star Orchestra in New York, consisting of 95 leading orchestra musicians from major symphony orchestras from across the United States.
In a post-concert interview, Multer, like violinist Timothy McAllister, had high praise for the Charlotte Symphony, Ponti, and the Punta Gorda community.
On the orchestra: “This orchestra is remarkably good. They sound great, have a great attitude, and lots of young people. They not only have a great orchestra, they have a great community that supports it.”
On his interaction with concertmaster Ming Gao: “He and I do the same job. He sits here tonight. I solo. Tomorrow he solos and I sit here. It’s fun when you find a talent like that to enjoy the moment.”
On sitting in with the orchestra: “I think it’s a nice show of support for your colleagues. We’re all in this together. So let’s do the concert together.”
On Ponti: “He’s a very special musician, fantastic, natural. He’s exciting and a very rare bird in that people feel enabled and they’re able to contribute with a conductor like that.”
Last word: “It’s so much fun here, I look forward to coming back.”