Critique du dernier concert de Virgil au Carnegie Hall par Jon Sobel

Avril 2024

…In fact the weightiest element of the first half was Robert Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Minor. In this piece the two instruments are more partners than soloist-and-accompanist, and Park’s rich piano tone came to the fore in the first movement. Schumann’s passions emerged in waves, the two musicians sounding as one. Accents were firm but not overdone, dynamics and contrasts expressive without garishness.

The Allegretto sounded homey and charming, played with the well-oiled ease that comes from deep understanding of the music and thorough preparation. The finale, though denoted “Lebhaft” (“Lively”), goes beyond the merely energetic, dipping into frenzy that threatens to boil over. During this glorious performance I got the impression of a ship steering resolutely through some very bad weather.

That made Tchaikovsky’s haunting and touching “Sérénade mélancolique” a nice capper to the first half of the concert. Here Boutellis-Taft’s fondness for tasteful glissandos was particularly evident. Amid the piece’s relative simplicity and straightforward harmonic motion, the pair niftily excavated its dramatic depths.

They returned after intermission to play the Violin Sonata of Leoš Janáček. This is not a favorite of mine among the Czech composer’s ouevre, but the musicians gave it an admirable performance. As the first movement shifted between aggression and tenderness, Park achieved superb pianistic effects, while Boutellis-Taft found vivid colors. After the rather indulgent second movement, the warlike Allegretto set up the final movement’s strange dialogue and jolts of violence.

Reflecting the incantatory theme, the “Nigun” of Ernest Bloch received a transportive and deeply felt reading. The violinist’s formidable double-stopping, along with his technique of striking the string hard enough to generate distortion, magnified the pathos…

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