Friday, 9 April 2010

Violin and Piano Recital by ILYA GRUBERT and ALENA CHERNY

Violin & Piano Recital
by Ilya Grubert & Alena Cherny
Conservatory Concert Hall
Wednesday (7 April 2010)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 9 April 2010.

It isn’t often that a first prizewinner of the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition performs in Singapore. Yet our concert stages have played hosts to names like Gidon Kremer, Viktor Tretyakov, Ilya Kaler and Akiko Suwanai over the years. Now add Latvia-born Ilya Grubert, joint winner of the 1978 competition (with Elmar Oliveira) to that list, an artist who is equal to the best of them.

In a glittering programme that showcased both the violin and piano to maximum effect, Grubert and Ukrainian pianist Alena Cherny displayed a pure virtuosity that went beyond mere notes and pyritechnics. The opening Poeme Elegiaque by Eugene Ysaye married Romantic impulses with flowing lyrical lines that often spilled into impressionism. The skill was in crafting a song-like tone, subtly blending within its turbulent undertones and gentle chromaticism.
The duo was also totally at home in Prokofiev’s bittersweet Second Violin Sonata in D major (Op.94 bis), originally a flute sonata, with its quirky turns of phrases and sometimes schizophrenic shifts in dynamics. Grubert’s Guarneri (ex-Wieniawski) violin alternated between svelte refinement and slashing vehemence, all in service of this music, while Cherny ably supported the thrilling ride with smartly delivered ripostes of her own.

Despite the high octane fare, a close to perfect balance was found between both instruments, largely due to the sensitivity displayed by both players. This was especially needed in Richard Strauss’ Sonata in E flat major (Op.18), an early but sprawling work that runs the risk of excessive effusiveness and overwhelming sentimentality.

No fear as even when all of Strauss’ big gestures emerged, these were tempered by intricate phrasing and a close attention to delicate details. In the dreamy second movement titled Improvisation, the central section played on mute while accompanied by bird-like warbles on the piano was a case in point.
Even after the explosive and heady romp of the finale, which soared from climax to further climax, more was found in the encore, Nigun from Ernest Bloch’s Baal Shem Suite. That elusive factor, heart, is what audiences value in concerts, and which Grubert and Cherny supplied in droves.

No comments: