Stefan in the Press

Soloist and young phenom Stefan Jackiw got [the Beethoven Violin Concerto] right: The downbeats were alive and electric, a bloom on the tone or a subtle syncopated emphasis pushing the line forward. Jackiw’s technique is prodigious, his intonation precise, but his playing is striking for its intelligence and sensitivity.

Jackiw made a sensational impression on Thursday evening, performing the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 with Gerard Schwarz and the [Seattle Symphony]. The young player is a powerhouse of a violinist with a big rich tone and a lot of technical assurance. But he isn’t just a speedy-fingered prodigy. Jackiw made the most of his interpretive opportunities, especially in the second movement, with its lovely melodic line. Clad in a black shirt and black slacks, Jackiw played with exceptional clarity and maturity.

Most impressive debut [of 2004]

Jackiw was astonishing. Get out the superlatives and take your pick: huge technical resources; dead center pitch, even at the highest register of the instrument; a tone both silky and steely; a bow arm of great strength and control; breathtaking clarity, even in the fastest passages; a myriad of colors and dynamic values. For someone so young, his talent is remarkably complete, his musicality strikingly mature. Like many young virtuosos, he likes fast tempos, and he took the final movement very quickly. But he made sense of the speed.

Such soaring beauty of tone, such strength and purity of feeling, that this hardened listener burst into tears.

One of the miracles and mysteries of music is how the exceptionally gifted young performer can renew the art by making you hear unexpected things in music you've known longer than they've been alive, by making you feel the music as freshly and intensely as you did when you were first discovering it. Violinist Stefan Jackiw can do this. 

Talent That’s Off The Scale

It took all of one phrase to realize we were in for a performance of uncommon musical substance.... it’s clear he has thought more deeply than many of his peers about an essential koan of interpretation: how to wed genuine devotion to a composer’s vision with playing of interior participation and personal freedom.

Listening to the apparently endless parade of expert, teenage violinists passing through our concert halls, you'd be hard-pressed to find one with a more consistently beautiful sound than 19-year-old Stefan Jackiw. His reading of Saint-Saens's Violin Concerto No. 3, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore on Thursday, was marked by elegance, a supple, singing line and a liquid tone that never hardened, even in the score's bravura passages. This was gorgeous playing – from the spot-on precision in the first movement's stratospheric high notes through the poise and nobility imbuing the swaggering finale.

It took all of one phrase to realize we were in for a performance of uncommon musical substance.... it’s clear he has thought more deeply than many of his peers about an essential koan of interpretation: how to wed genuine devotion to a composer’s vision with playing of interior participation and personal freedom.

It’s tough for a youngster to make a strong first impression with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, with countless versions by a century of great violinists ringing in our ears. But at Friday’s local debut by 20-year-old Stefan Jackiw, who is on tour with the Moscow State Symphony, it was obvious that we were in the presence of a magnificent new talent. [Jackiw’s] was some of the most debonair, impassioned, pitch-accurate and sophisticated violin playing I’ve heard in quite a while.

[Stefan Jackiw] could be a legend in the making. He has everything he needs to make an exceptional career for himself – flawless technique, precocious musical understanding, and a sweet, singing tone.