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An introvert evening

Church of St. Simon and Juda
02/01/2005 -  
Midori (violin) in recital
Charles Abramovic (piano)

As a part of her European tour, Midori gave a concert in Prague which included an eclectic mixture from early Romantic to 20th century music. The performance suffered a bit from the far from perfect acoustics in the Church of St. Simon and Juda which is being used by the Prague Symphony Orchestra as a venue for chamber music concerts. Also, due to a modest press coverage there were empty seats in a performance by an artist who usually sells out much larger venues. Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata in F major, op. 24 may be the first one to include four movements but its music language is still the one of classicism. Except for the third movement which features some splendid scales, there was not much space left to demonstrate the splendid technique Midori is known for. However her expression was a bit far from the spring mood and did not manage to chase away the feeling of snowy weather outside of the church navel. The second piece, Sonata for violin and piano by Isang Yun may not have been embraced too cordially by the audience, however, the violinist demonstrated excellent technique with a clear upper register and she obviously felt very comfortable within Yun’s glimpses of oriental tonality. After the break, Debussy’s Sonata for violin and piano in G minor was a clear disappointment of the evening. This is a piece which should convey the feeling of Frenchness, that certain foggy ambiguous atmosphere of flows of music so typical for Debussy. For my part, this was not what I could hear. For obvious reasons, Prague audience welcomed the next piece added to the programme in the last minute, Dvoøák’s Mazurek, op. 49. The playing was more than adequate and brought a welcome comparison with the interpretations of native Czech musicians, with some superb details. It is Johannes Brahms who seems to be the perfect cup of tea for Midori. First in his last Sonata for violin and piano in D minor, op. 108, then in the second Hungarian Dance played as an encore, Midori was visibly in her element. Both the technique and expression were of almost recording quality and the works were played with a visible passion. Regretfully, the accompanying pianist Charles Abramovic did not seem to be the ideal partner for the evening. While Beethoven’s sonata is a composition where both instruments play an almost equally dominant role, his sound was a bit strong and dominant in other pieces, failing to produce a rich texture. Surprisingly, both instrumentalists seemed to be rather incapable of playing at least adequate pianissimi throughout the evening. The overall impression was the one of someone playing rather for herself than for the audience, with a much smaller sound than one would expect. Her Brahms is most delightful but probably more enjoyable at home from CD than in a concert hall.

Kvetoslav Krejci



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