Michael Ludwig, Live in Concert

Everyone who listens to any kind of music, no matter how experienced and knowledgeable, has a ‘who dat?’ moment when they first see or hear someone completely new, especially on a small label with a band or ensemble that has nothing more than a local reputation. That was my feeling when I received this disk in the mail. Yes, the Beethoven Violin Concerto is a masterpiece, and the Dvorak Romance is a lovely piece, but who dat playing?

Well, that is a very fine violinist with a lovely, old-school tone, an impeccable technique and some valuable things to say about the music. Ludwig’s approach is simple in the best way, emphasizing particular ideas and moments and leaving the rest of the music uncluttered, to speak for itself. I like the long line of his playing, the light-handed but inexorable flow from one phrase to another. He undramatically puts, not greater weight, but greater clarity and understanding on particular rises in dynamics and emotion. It’s a real lesson in classical interpretation, in judging moments of value and building the musical logic to get to them, like a flawless and smooth-running plot, with suspense and inevitable, natural release.  Excellent playing of the Romance as well, and flawless accompaniment from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, which sounds great, and veteran conductor JoAnn Falletta.


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.