Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Sep 25 2014
Medtner's vividly romantic sonata at the centre of a lovely lunchtime recital.
British violinist Chloe Hanslip and Russian pianist Igor Tchetuev have won plaudits recently for their disc of Medtner violin sonatas, so I ent along with interest to their recital at the Wigmore Hall on Thursday 25 September 2014, which launched the 2014/15 season of lunchtime showcase recitals from Lisa Peacock Concert Management. Hanslip and Tchetuev play Schnittke's Suit in Old Style, Medtner's Violin Sonata No. 1 in B minor Op 21 and Beethoven's violin Sonata No. 1 in D major Op.12 No.1.
Born in Russia, Nicolai Medtner (1880 - 1951) emigrated to the UK in 1921 and spent the last 30 years living in Golders Green. His Violin Sonata No. 1 dates from 1910, and as might be expected from a pianist composer, has a complex piano part fully the equal partner of the violin.
The opening Canzona is marked Canterellando (sung softly). The piano set up a rocking barcarolle rhythm with Hanslip's violin singing over the top. The two performed this rather wandering music with intensity and finesse. The piano did not accompany so much as partner, with Hanslip and Tchetuev creating a single texture as they wove in an out each other reaching haunting conclusion. The middle movement, Danza, was a lively Allegro starting in a charming, perky and dance-like manner. The music was full of fascinating rhythms. Medtner's musicchanged direction in a minute, Hanslip and Tchetuev were fully alert to this both giving us some bravura moments. This was a superb performance both technically and for the way the two understood Medtner's structure, and there was some nice wit at the end too. The third movement opened with sonorous bells in the piano and Hanslip's violin giving us the feeeling of a stately dance - the music is titled Ditirambo (Dithyramb) and marked Festively. The movement built in intensity and rhythm with the two performers carrying you away with their involving and richly toned performance. The movement developed quite a rhapsodic feel and flowed beautifully. We had a lovely big piano moment before the end, when Medtner took his performers into the distance, dancing still.
Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major Op.12 No.1 was written when he was still a young firebrand, newly moved to Vienna and a pupil of Salieri (to whom the Opus 12 set of sonatas were dedicated). The sonata form opening Allegro showed a complexity of writing and of material which suggests why the work was regarded as perverse and bizarre by its early audience. The piano was very much an equal partner, but Beethoven developed an interesting relationship between the two. The opening material after wonderfully bravura chords, involved a singing melody and flowing accompaniment, which the two instruments swapped about so the piano was not always accompanying. Hanslip played with elegant refined tone and the two brought a nice clarity to the music. But there was also a firmness, strength and feel for structure. The second movement is a set of variations. Tchetuev's piano started the theme before being taken up by Hanslip's violin. This continued through the piece, where there were variations where the piano had primacy. Both Hanslip and Tchetuev provided some lovely sensitive and finely phrased playing but there were moments of bold drama too (Beethoven being 'perverse and bizarre'). These are variations where not just the musical material but the emotional temperature is highly varied. The third movement is cast in the Rondo form popular for final movements of sonatas. The rondo theme was full of perky charm and good humour, both Hanslip and Tchetuev provided it with a nice wit. The rondo structure gave plenty of scope for Beethoven to allow the harmony to go wandering with some lovely atmospheric moments. One wonders what Salieri thought of his present?
The performance was warmly received by the audience and we were treated to an encore, Massenet's Meditation from Thais.
Elsewhere on this blog:
- Dr Scroggy's War: William Lyons score for new play - theatre music review
- Enchanting: Fairy Queen at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea - opera review
- Astounding debut: Javier Camarena at Rosenblatt Recitals - concert review
- Opera undressed: Otello at ENO - opera review
- Bravura: Vivaldi's Griselda, Opera Settecento at Cadogan Hall - concert review
- Rare and enticing: Purcell's The Indian Queen at the Wigmore Hall - concert review
- A discovery & a delight: Etienne Mouline from Ensemble Correspondances and Sebastien Dauce - CD review
- Silver Clarity: The Voice of Isobel Baillie - CD review
- Fine revival: Handel's Xerxes at London Coliseum - Opera review
- Different musics: Duke Quartet and London Chamber Music Collective at Kings Place Festival - concert review
- Birthday boy: Peter Maxwell Davies at the Proms - concert review
- Classical works, folk roots: Kings PLace Festival - concert review