Prokofiev: Violin Sonata No 1 in F Minor, Op. 80
Auerbach: Selections from Twenty-four Preludes for Violin and Piano, Op. 46
Beethoven: Sonata for Violin and Piano No 9 in A Major, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
There are musical masterpieces whose performances I make a point not to miss, and then there are masterful musicians whose concerts are considered high priority on my calendar. Highly regarded violinist Leonidas Kavakos is unquestionably one of them, so when I saw that he was scheduled for a recital in the Zankel auditorium at the Carnegie Hall with equally reliable pianist Enrico Pace, I promptly made plans to attend.
The icy first movement of Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No 1 felt even gloomier than usual in Zankel’s pleasantly intimate but wintry cold environment. One of the Russian composer’s darkest pieces, it nevertheless sporadically offers some welcome outbursts of lyricism and vitality. Finding the right balance between mournful slowness and melodic energy, Leonidas Kavakos and Enrico Pace played off of each other with virtuosic precision and turned what could have been an interesting but depressing exercise into a complex and rewarding tour de force.
The ten selections from the Twenty-Four Preludes for Violin and Piano by Lera Auerbach were a nice sample of the contemporary multi-faceted Siberian artist’s œuvre. All equally short and instinctively attractive, they covered a wide spectrum of moods and sonorities, which gave the two musicians plenty of opportunities to display their acute interpretative skills.
Last, but not least, Beethoven’s formidable Kreutzer sonata unraveled without frills but plenty of warmth and meticulousness. One of Beethoven’s wildest rides, its fiendishly difficult twists and turns received a royal treatment and concluded the program with a grand bang.
We thought that we were not going to get it, and many people had already given up and left, but the duo eventually came back for an encore in the form of a diabolically festive “Danse russe” from Stravinsky's Pétrouchka. Another proof that patience does pay off.