Christian Tetzlaff/Leif Ove Andsnes, Wigmore Hall, London
Tuesday 26 April 2005
Vivacity, profundity, charm, one reasonably expects from a recital for violin and piano, but hardly to be stunned by sheer loudness and savagery. It barely seemed possible that the Wigmore Hall Steinway could withstand the force with which the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes pitched into the central movement of Shostakovich's Violin Sonata, Op 134 (1968), let alone the frail fiddle of the German virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff. Few in the capacity audience for this recital will, surely, ever forget it.
And, it came completely out of the blue. Not only does Shostakovich precede it with one of his long, numbed, slow movements of wandering two-part counterpoint, but Tetzlaff and Andsnes had preceded that with an account of Beethoven's Violin Sonata in A, Op 30 No 3 (1802), which was tastefully nuanced and contained. One could scarcely imagine a more exquisitely coloured violin line or a more perfect rapport between partners.
But the violence of the Shostakovich scherzo duly spilt over into the work's long finale, which climaxes in a frantic freak-out for piano, answered by an equally overwrought violin solo, before subsiding into typically terminal despair. And after projecting the huge piece with such intensity, the duo could not, one imagined, have anything left to give the second half of their recital.
Yet Tetzlaff sprang into the fanfares that launch Mozart's two-movement Violin Sonata in E flat, K 302 (1778), with the same freshness with which the young composer must have penned it on his journey to hoped-for fame and fortune in Paris in 1778-9.
Whereupon passion broke forth anew in Grieg's Violin Sonata No 3 in C minor, Op 45 (1887). The opening movement is, admittedly, among Grieg's dodgier sonata structures: full of stormy textures, but patently patched together. Yet the middle movement is one of his most memorable folk idylls, with serenely unfolding melodies.
And still there were encores - a couple of Sibelius's late Danses Champêtres (1925) - curious conflations of flashy salon pyrotechnics with subtle echoes of the Sixth Symphony. After the pair had thrown those off with brilliant insouciance, one left the hall wondering whether there was any more versatile, searching and sheerly musical violin-and-piano partnership before the public today.
Recital relayed at 7.30pm tomorrow on Radio 3
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