Robert Uchida

Strings Magazine

“Although a sonata for solo violin that lasts 107 minutes and requires two CDs may seem like a mere trifle from a composer who has composed a three-hour piano sonata, Andrew Violette’s harmonically meandering, but surprisingly gripping, tour de force is a rewarding musical adventure for performer and audience alike. And while its dedicatee, Robert Uchida, says that it ‘makes use of every possibility on the instrument from Bartók to Paganini,’ it is more an extended reflection on sonority and gesture than a demonstration of violinistic fireworks. The centerpieces of the 2006 sonata are a 34-minute chaconne and an hourlong set of seven variations on the opening aria (with nods to Ysaÿe, Kreisler, Bartók, and Verdi), while its three ‘Bells’ movements, the last a stunning exercise in trills and scales, provide a unifying thread to the experience.

The unvarnished recording does not prevent Uchida from making ravishing sounds on his Italian fiddle (attributed to Carlo Bergonzi, ca. 1733). The youthful concertmaster of the Symphony of Nova Scotia in Halifax plays with an eloquent, hypnotic intensity and inevitability that seamlessly accommodate occasional outbursts of energy, including a series of sudden, wonderful arpeggios midway through the chaconne. What Uchida calls “the sheer magnitude, almost religious nature of the work” comes through—after you get accustomed to the music’s introspective pace and graceful shape.”

– Laurence Vittes, June 2009

The Strad Magazine

“Recording contemporary, unaccompanied violin music [Andrew Violette's Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin] on this scale is no mean feat, and Robert Uchida throws himself at it, leaning into phrases and attacking long chains of double-stops with gusto. Uchida straddles the twin technical challenges of quick-fire ornamentation and chordal salvos admirably, while the Bartok pastiche is well-captured by earthy semi-poradic portamento. The sparkling torrents of the souped up 'Bells with Trills and Scales' channel his virtuosic energy in shorter bursts and the music is more potent for it.”

– Chris Elcombe, April 2009

The Vancouver Sun

“On Saturday the sublime duet near the end of the finale between soloist [Daniel Müller-Schott] and, in this instance, visiting Concert Master Robert Uchida (from Symphony Nova Scotia), wrung the heartstrings. They played together as if they had known each other all their lives.”

– David Gordon Duke, June 2008

The Ottawa Citizen

“Uchida, who obviously enjoys playing this dynamic piece [Brady Violin Concerto], gave an authoritative account. His astringent, shimmering sound is the ideal vehicle for Brady’s writing.”

– Natasha Gauthier, January 2015

Wolfgang's Tonic

“Violinist Robert Uchida was a persuasive advocate for the piece [Brady Violin Concerto], expressing the slow movement with lyrical dignity and the outer movements, especially the third, with vigour and brilliance.”

– Richard Todd, January 2015

The Chronicle Herald, Halifax

“Uchida evoked shouts and cheers for his solo performance in Prokofiev’s, spiky, cubist, Violin Concerto in G minor. He played it with a thorough understanding of its modernist style. His tone was light and rich by turns, and his technique virtuosic.”

– Stephen Pedersen, April 2008

“Uchida’s genius was to find this solid vein of musical gold by going right back inside Vivaldi, creating vivid tone paintings of the seasons as bright and active as a Brueghel canvas, which he finessed in a way, without making a bigger deal of the simple, fiery virtuosity of the violin solo writing than just what was needed to make it one of the most colourful performances I have heard in a while.”

– Stephen Pedersen, February 2008

“Certainly, the stunning performance of this work by Symphony Nova Scotia concertmaster Robert Uchida, pianist Peter Allen and the Blue Engine String Quartet at the Lillian Percy Concert Hall in Halifax during the St. Cecilia Chamber Plus Series on Sunday afternoon had everything a romantic blockbuster has in the way of psychological intensity, scenic colour and emotional rollercoasting. The playing was phenomenal.

“Uchida surfing the orchestral sound and diving in and out of it, Allen on piano ringing in the other players with brilliant keyboard ranging scales, running as easily as a cheetah right to the top of the hills. Uchida and Allen started off with Claude Debussy's Violin Sonata, his tone resonant and clear, rich in the low register and brilliant in the high.”

– Stephen Pedersen, October 2009

“The performance began with a breathtakingly intimate and personal interpretation by violinist Robert Uchida (concertmaster of Symphony Nova Scotia) of Bach’s Sonata in G Minor for Solo Violin, also known as the First Partita. [...]

“Musicians, being what they are, treat each impossibility as an expressive opportunity. We hear the chords as two chords, but accept them as one. This is pure magic. And Uchida, who completely dominates your attention when he plays, is a master magician. [...]

“Violinist Jonathan Crow joined Uchida for 14 of these enchanting musical snapshots [duets by Berio and Bartok], seven from each collection. Their mastery of detail, and their skill in making even the tiniest, the most momentary flicker of tone register on the listening ear drew thunderous applause from the packed house.”

– Stephen Pederson, June 2011

“In the hands of virtuoso orchestral and concert violinists Mark Fewer and Robert Uchida, worlds of colour and tone and energy are opened up, with much feeling and no sentimentality.”

– Stephen Pedersen, May 2013

“The concert ended with [Sarah] Sleanʼs song Parasol, arranged by Hatzis for voice, solo violin and orchestra. It featured SNS concertmaster Robert Uchida and opened with a startlingly virtuosic cadenza. His virtuosity and Sleanʼs playfulness resulted in another standing ovation, despite Parosolʼs words, ‘And no you canʼt play that in this serious hall / only apes wearing capes get the curtain call.’

“Slean knew an encore was wanted but told us she didnʼt have one, so she and Uchida and the orchestra, brilliantly led by Bernhard Gueller, would play Parasol again, and again it got a standing ovation.”

– Stephen Pedersen, April 2012

Edmonton Journal

“Uchida is like a figure from another era, a Gregory Peck of a concert-master, tall and stately. He does not have a big solo sound, but more than makes up for it in the compelling restrained passion of his playing. He is quite a find for the ESO.”

– Mark Morris, September 2013

“The many solo moments were full of the idiomatic phrasing and that emotional colour that also has sometimes been missing. The new concertmaster, Robert Uchida, showed yet again what a fine soloist he is and clearly he, too, has had a big role in the new energy of the orchestra, especially the upper strings.”

– Mark Morris, December 2013

“[…] Mention should be made of Robert Uchida, the guest concertmaster from Nova Scotia. As tall and as beanpole-ish as Carpenter, he was the organist’s antithesis, in formal tails, and, as violin soloist, introverted and absorbed in a gentle and beautifully felt performance of the Meditation from Massenet’s Thaïs. They made a study in contrasts—both valid, and both well worth hearing in this imaginative concert.”

– Mark Morris, November 2012