Viktoria Mullova, Paolo Giacometti (****)/ Vilde Frang, Michail Lifits (*****)

Wigmore Hall, London

Ever since her escape from Soviet Russia at the height of the Cold War, the violinist Viktoria Mullova has stayed firmly in the public eye.

Initially this was thanks to the icy perfection of her playing, but her marriage to cellist Matthew Barley led to fame of a different sort as she embarked on a series of jazz and folk collaborations. Then she got into gut-string period-instrument performance, which is where she is now: bringing Paolo Giacometti with his fortepiano – rather than a Steinway - to join her for a Beethoven recital was a typically bold move.

The sound created by gut strings (plus a fortepiano) is as different from that of metal strings (plus a modern grand) as candlelight is from neon, and when Mullova and Giacometti launched into the ‘Sonata in A minor Opus 23’ one had to make an immediate aural adjustment. But this music sounded as though new, with the balance between the instruments permitting a light and flexible approach and allowing their respective timbres to blend beguilingly.

While Mullova’s pure line exuded cool authority, Giacometti played with the most subtle refinement, with the slow movement of the ‘Spring’ sonata expressing a tender collusion surely closer to what Beethoven intended than what we are used to today. There were moments – notably the resonant theme of the Andante in the ‘Kreutzer’ – when I would have preferred the heft of a Steinway, and some of the variations were unnecessarily hurried, but the hurtling violence of that sonata’s outer movements came at us with full force. This concert was a revelation.

The case for modern instruments was brilliantly made by the young virtuosi who took the stage the next day. The 24-year-old Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang – who looks as if she’s stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting – has a line as clean and pure as Mullova’s. And in tandem with the Uzbek pianist Michail Lifits she gave an account of Mendelssohn’s ‘Sonata in F’ which was both full-blooded and finely nuanced, with Lifits delivering the whirlwind figurations of the finale at a speed which took the breath away. Lutoslawski’s ‘Partita for Violin and Piano’ calls several times for both players to improvise before simultaneously arriving at the same end-point, and they met this challenge effortlessly, before zapping us with three richly-coloured Hungarian Dances by Brahms.

This stunning performance can be heard again on Radio 3 on Saturday afternoon.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935