Jody Gatwood, who looks like a young Paganini, has earned the growing respect of lovers of both chamber music and solo violin literature. He performs with a compelling combination of sweetness and energy. His musicianship is impeccable and his technique is clean and assured.
Undoubtedly, his public augmented the crowds of Bach lovers that jammed into the National Gallery's East Garden Court last night to hear Richard Bales and the National Gallery Orchestra perform the Bach Brandenburgs Number 3 and 1, the A Minor Violin Concerto and the 3rd Orchestral Suite.
They should have been pleased. Gatwood's view of the Concerto was serious and low-keyed, not at all romantic, but nevertheless supple, beautifully paced and well formed. He treated the orchestra as a chamber music partner, and the musicians responded sensitively.
The Brandenburgs went well if, at times, a trifle raggedly. After hearing the latest stereo versions of these works, all of which stress brilliance and virtuosity, it was a pleasure to be reintroduced to them in a warmer, more human guise.
Richard Roeckelein, at the harpsichord, expanded the two-note cadence (which is all Bach wrote to separate the first and third movements of the 3rd Brandenburg) into a marvelous, brief improvisation. Clearly this is what Bach intended, and it is only surprising that it is so rarely attempted.