The latest chamber music concert I attended was quite an enthralling experience. It consisted of three works with the most substantial one being the Violin Sonata Nr 2 by Johannes Brahms. The soloists were the violinist Yi Yang One and the pianist Kanae Matsumoto, both excellent exponents of the music, bringing a particular intensity and beauty to the music of Brahms and Messiaen which completed the concert.
The Brahms Violin Sonata is in three movements and lasts around half an hour. Here one can observe Brahms’ debt to Beethoven in the long melodic lines and the structural authenticity of the music. One attacked the first movement with gusto bringing a lot of meaning to the marking, Allegro amabile which is quite original in its own right and which demonstrates the composers affection and affinity for such markings. Matsumoto also brought a brisk tempo to proceedings and although the movement was occasionally rather fast, the movement came across exceptionally well.
The second movement is marked Andante tranquillo and is probably the heart of the piece. Here one could really appreciate the intrinsic beauty of the music especially with the singing lines of the violin where One almost produced a dreamlike state. Brahms use of the violin as a soothing instrument is well documented and this view comes across quite clearly in this movement. Again, Matsumoto is the ideal accompanist, never rushed, never hurried and with an innate penchant for creating the right atmosphere for her soloist. Personally I enjoyed this movement the best since it recalled memories of my childhood and all the emotional experiences which that brought with it.
The final movement of the sonata is marked Allegretto grazioso and here the whole work comes together in an excellent manner. One plays with fantastic intensity with her bowing technique quite out of this world and everything moves along to a brilliant conclusion. I was again bowled over by Matsumoto’s playing which excelled in all sorts of technique but never left the bigger picture and demonstrated an empathy with her soloist. I can safely say that this was one of the finest performances I ever witnessed regarding this work and I was already anticipating what to expect in the other works.
The rest of the concert was given over to the pianistic skills of Kanae Matsumoto who started off with the Brahms Scherzo from the F A E Sonata. Here tonality is something of an issue with the leaping lines and momentum creating an aura of tension and mystery. Once again Matsumoto’s technique is excellent, full of great beauty but at the same time, ruthless efficiency. The pianistic touches which make up this work are a crucial part of the whole foundation and this was excellently portrayed in Matsumoto’s interpretation.
Finally the most difficult work on the programme rounded off proceedings. The Theme et variations dating from 1932 is a splendidly effusive work, full of motor rhythms and outstanding clarity rather in the mould of Prokofiev’s 2nd Symphony. It goes without saying that Matsumoto’s playing is completely in sync with the music’s difficult demands and she goes to the heart of the music with almost violent relish. This was certainly a fine concert, very challenging to the mind and both artists were really at the top of their game throughout.
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