United Kingdom Virtuoso Violin: Mathilde Milwidsky (violin), Huw Watkins (piano). Levinsky Corridor, College of Plymouth, 12.11.2022. (PRB)
Bartók – Romanian People Dances
Huw Watkins – Arietta; Romance; Partita for solo violin
Paganini – Caprice No.24 for solo violin
Elgar – Sonata for violin and piano
Ravel – Tzigane for violin and piano
This was a recital within the Musica Viva Live performance Collection beneath the auspices of College of Plymouth’s Arts Institute. It was solely the second such occasion in Levinsky Corridor for the reason that recently-renamed venue – previously known as Lecture Theatre One – had taken over the function of the College’s foremost live performance venue.
The primary live performance could also be remembered for its bomb scare, an unlucky consequence of an unsecure message on social media, learn by greater than its supposed recipient. College audiences have come to count on the thirty-minute pre-concert discuss, however on that night time it had clearly been tough to listen to behind the auditorium. So, it was rewarding to see Arts Institute Director of Music Dr Robert Taub introduce, and chat with, the night’s two performers in the identical informal but most informative trend, and this occasions everybody was capable of get pleasure from what was being stated.
Mathilde Milwidsky started her recital with Bartók’s Six Romanian Dances in Zoltán Székely’s 1925 association for violin and piano. They proved the best begin to the programme. All six of them launched not less than one side of Milwidsky’s phenomenal method, which might then be developed as the remainder of the programme unfolded – and all in a piece acquainted to audiences in its completely different kinds.
Inside just a few bars of Joc cu bâtă, it grew to become abundantly clear that not solely have been we in for a musical deal with when it comes to efficiency, however that we have been listening to a really particular instrument certainly: an unbelievable 1697 Stradivarius on mortgage from Beare’s (London). Highlights included heat and wealthy tone within the opening piece, extremely adept articulation, allure and beauty in Brâul, an ethereal but splendidly managed use of harmonics in Pê loc, Gypsy rhythms and passions in Buciumeana, and a most vivid sense of dance, motion and an unbridled sense of enjoyable in Poargâ românească, and Mărunţel which completes the set.
Huw Watkins isn’t just a a lot sought-after pianist and accompanist, however a composer in his personal proper. He has been described as one of the vital nicely rounded composer-musicians within the UK. The pre-concert discuss revealed that there was a musical bond between violinist and accompanist which numerous years working collectively had clearly spawned. By means of demonstration, Milwidsky continued with Watkins’s two items for violin and piano, Arietta and Romance. He briefly describes Arietta as ‘a quiet second of introspection, the place the violin’s melody unfolds slowly, suspended above the piano’s light harmonic net’. In Milwidsky’s eminently delicate fingers, it could merely seem superfluous to remark additional; the identical very a lot applies to her equally beautiful efficiency of Romance.
The artists had entitled their programme Virtuoso Violin. There have already been many moments the place mastery is clearly germane to the musical argument, virtuosity and Nicolò Paganini would very a lot appear to go hand-in-hand on this planet of violinists. That’s maybe nowhere extra so than in Caprice No.24, broadly thought of one of the vital tough mainstream items ever written for solo violin. It comprises a plethora of parallel octaves and speedy shifting that covers many intervals, extraordinarily quick scales and arpeggios, left-hand pizzicato, excessive positions, fast string crossing, in addition to many double stops, together with thirds and tenths – all solid as a theme, eleven variations and a finale.
Milwidsky gave a very gorgeous all-round efficiency. She appeared to make mild of the bristling technical challenges in nearly each bar, however by no means to the purpose that the composer’s unique intention was not realised. The enjoying shed a few of the work’s demonic magic – reasonably like discovering out how the ‘Noticed a Lady in Half’ phantasm is definitely fairly simply managed.
This was underlined, furthermore, by Milwidsky’s alternative to not finish her first half on such a tour de drive and retire to the inexperienced room to regroup and recharge the batteries. As a substitute, she continued with one other work for solo violin, Huw Watkins’s Partita, initially written for the Alina Ibragimova, a BBC New Era Artist within the 2005-2007 cohort. Watkins’s twelve-minute work is ready in 5 actions – Maestoso, Lento ma non troppo, Lento, Comodo, Allegro molto – and seeks to mix three deftly-wrought sections, with interludes of improvisatory adroitness. Milwidsky’s virtuosity was once more ample within the efficiency, which, on this event, was additionally completely in synch with the mental calls for of the composer’s rating. This was but once more a fairly excellent studying; a second listening to may very a lot improve it at a while sooner or later.
Milwidsky opened the second half with arguably the spotlight of the night, Elgar’s wonderful Violin Sonata in E minor, which he described thus: ‘The primary motion is daring and vigorous, then a implausible, curious motion with a really expressive center part; a melody for the violin […] they are saying it’s nearly as good or higher than something I’ve performed within the expressive means […] the final motion may be very broad and soothing, just like the final motion of the second symphony.’ From the harmonic side alone, many options within the rating are worthy of remark, as is the abundance of technical difficulties alongside the way in which, for the violinist specifically, however for me this work is all about heartfelt ardour of the pure Elgarian selection. It’s a distinctive expertise that ideally must be felt and long-established from a raft of life experiences, one thing that the youngest artist is much less prone to empathise with, not less than initially.
This was merely not the case in Mathilde Milwidsky and Huw Watkins’s fantastic enjoying. The religious empathy we had picked up on throughout the pre-concert discuss now revealed itself in all its glory. The artists have been as one all through. They drew the viewers into the intimacy of a valuable efficiency, because the composer’s beautifully-crafted rating merely wafted by means of the air-conditioned air.
We have now already had a style of Milwidsky’s uncanny really feel for instrumental color after we have been transported to a gypsy dance someplace in Romania, courtesy of Béla Bartók. We returned to that atmosphere for the ultimate piece on provide, Ravel’s Tzigane for violin and piano. The composer’s final essay within the Hungarian type, it arguably represents the all-time apotheosis on stylised Gypsy music. The lengthy opening cadenza for violin takes in actual fact practically half of the overall time. Its virtuoso options consist principally of intense high-position work on the G string, along with octaves and different a number of stops, tremolos and arpeggios. Harmonics and additional fireworks are left for the quick part – a extra dazzling assortment of left-hand pizzicato that had not been heard since Paganini’s day.
The efficiency, evidently, was a tour de drive. Together with the opposite works heard throughout the recital, it made this second live performance within the Musica Viva Collection in all probability the best violin and piano duo recital heard within the metropolis for numerous years.
Plymouth audiences should really feel tremendously indebted to the College, and significantly its Arts Institute, however equally to the perception and imaginative and prescient of director Bob Taub. He as soon as extra acquired high-calibre artists to a metropolis that has of late appeared disadvantaged of performances at this stage of experience and musicianship.
In the meanwhile, the Steinway Grand nonetheless appears at its greatest in chamber music ensembles, however the elimination of a few of the remaining wall panels may show extra receptive to enhancing the sound of a solo piano.
Oh, and we used to have the identical outdated music stands at college, a few years in the past – simply saying.
Philip R Buttall