It was an eclectic but high-minded evening of music for violin and piano by Mozart, Bloch, Hindemith, Fauré and Schubert. And while the program sometimes placed daunting demands on the soloist, the focus was always on the music itself. There was nothing ostentatious about her performances.
In this, she was well matched by her pianist, Özgür Aydin.
Throughout the evening, Aydin proved to be an ideal accompanist, completely simpatico with Midori’s interpretations. It wasn’t hard to see why Midori chose him as her pianist.
Bloch’s Sonata No. 2 (“Poème Mystique”), called for a broader range of expression, and Midori rose to the occasion. Now her playing was generous, expansive, yet always perfectly controlled: there were times when she seemed to barely touch her bow to the strings in pianissimo double-stops, and times when she gradually built up to exciting, stratospheric climaxes. For me, this piece was the highlight of the evening.
In Hindemith’s Sonata in E Major, Midori pleaded the composer’s case well – coaxing as much warmth and feeling from this notey, unendearing music as she could. If Midori finds much to admire in this score (and it was clear from her committed performance that she does) then she can hear musical virtues that I can’t.
From start to finish, Fauré’s Sonata No. 1 in A Major was a study in suave sophistication. Here, Midori’s refined, seamless playing came as a breath of fresh air. Especially poignant was the sweet and tender Andante – and her passage-work at the end of the finale was nothing short of astonishing.
Finally, Midori closed her program with Schubert’s Rondo for Violin and Piano in B Minor. In her hands, this piece was all about contrast. There was a dramatic flare to the way she brilliantly juxtaposed coyness with urgency and intensity with whimsy.
Did I say there was nothing ostentatious about this recital? In fact, that’s not entirely true. In her two encores – Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 2, arranged by Fritz Kreisler, and an excerpt from Prokoviev’s Love for Three Oranges, arranged by Jascha Heifetz – Midori proved she could be as flashy a fiddler as anyone, when she wants to be. Good for her!
© Colin Eatock 2013