United States Numerous: Maxim Vengerov (violin), Polina Osetinskaya (piano). Offered by Cal Performances, Zellerbach Corridor, College of California, Berkeley, 14.10.2022. (HS)
J. S. Bach – Violin Sonata in B minor
Beethoven – Violin Sonata in A significant ‘Kreutzer’
Shostakovich (arr. Tsyganov) – Ten Preludes from Op.34
Tchaikovsky – Memento d’un lieu cher; Valse-Scherzo in C main
Within the 15 years since Maxim Vengerov final performed his trusty 1727 ‘Kreutzer’ Stradivari violin within the San Francisco Bay Space, he has carved out a second profession as an completed conductor. At all times a standout for capturing the essence of works from Bach to Ysaÿe to Shostakovich, he confirmed extra proof of this potential on this stunning recital at Zellerbach Corridor in Berkeley.
There was a palpable sense of safety and intent within the music of J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. All of it unfolded with a scrumptious stream.
That included a efficiency of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A significant, nicknamed ‘Kreutzer’ as a result of Beethoven devoted the piece to the violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer. Within the atmospheric opening measures, Vengerov and pianist Polina Osetinskaya traded tender renderings of the gently questioning phrases after which launched into the meat of the livid Presto.
Their communication right here, and all through the live performance, was mesmerizingly intuitive. Osetinskaya by no means as soon as turned her head to take a look at the violinist, however by way of ESP or some divine connection they knew precisely the place the opposite was going and when to coordinate their entrances or adjustments in tempo. Her eyes have been glued to the rating. He performed with out sheet music, which emphasised a naturalness in his strategy to each measure.
The second motion’s variations moved alongside at a tempo with simply sufficient urgency to keep away from dragging, which too usually occurs when musicians intention to distinction the motion with the earlier frenetics. This felt precisely proper as every variation blossomed with Beethoven’s delicate colours. The virtuosic finale danced its tarantella with abandon, taking a breath for the reminder of the primary motion’s introduction earlier than crashing to a crisp end.
A finely tuned stability on this piece between violin and piano was particularly welcome after the opening foray by way of Bach’s Violin Sonata in B minor, balanced strongly towards the piano. Vengerov’s delicate taking part in usually receded into the background. Although Osetinskaya’s rhythmic decisions felt spot-on, her softer contact was perfect for the moody opening of the Beethoven however would have benefited from extra crispness within the Bach.
The second half of this system, which featured Russian music, mirrored the construction of the primary. It started with ten of Shostakovich’s pungently witty preludes. Initially a full set of 24 preludes and fugues for solo piano (written in 1932) that adopted the every-key format of Bach’s Effectively-Tempered Klavier, this model compiled later preparations for violin and piano by violinist Dmitri Tsyganov of the Beethoven Quartet.
The set of ten transient preludes started with three of the minor-key preludes. No.2, a toccata, bounced alongside, peppered with Shostakovich’s spiky ‘mistaken notes’, adopted by No.6, the dotted rhythms of a kind of French overture striding alongside within the bass line of the piano, and completed with No.12, a passacaglia that the composer additionally used within the sluggish motion of the Violin Concerto No.1.
Particularly wonderful was the best way each musicians deftly switched moods from one quick piece (barely a minute usually) to the following. The sweetness of the major-key Largo of No.13 lilted properly in a pastoral 6/8, and No.17 stored the ambiance with beautiful harmonies in a candy Largo, solely to darken within the F minor of No.18 and take off at a gallop within the frivolously tripping No.21.
The spotlight, although, got here with the final prelude, No.22 in G minor, Vengerov intoning a somber melody over Osetinskaya’s softly treading chords to a wistful end.
A few Tchaikovsky rarities concluded this system. Vengerov’s uncanny potential to coax voice-like magnificence in each heart-on-sleeve melody made Memento d’un lieu cher sing. It started with the unique sluggish motion of the composer’s violin concerto, which had been changed earlier than the concerto’s debut. If much less colourful than the orchestral model, the beautiful piece of nostalgia discovered the violinist exploring every part from lowest to highest notes on the instrument with a deft contact.
The even lighter second motion contrasted with the fast-paced tarantella, normally performed second however shifted right here to a finale, maybe to parallel the Beethoven sonata’s tarantella-infused finale. And not using a break, this system completed with the Valse-Scherzo in C main, performed with consummate gentility.
For encores, the duo provided a juicy rendition of the third motion (one other scherzo) of Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ Sonata and completed with the emotionally taut third motion of Franck’s Violin Sonata, sending the viewers out into the cool evening smiling.