The Sunday Salon Series in Krannert’s Foellinger Great Hall on Jan. 26 offered what for many was the opening concert of the Krannert season.
Violinist Grace Park, winner of the Naumburg International Violin competition, gave a recital that started out with two changes.
Park used a handheld mic to say that the pianist listed in the program, Joesph Liccardo, could not play this concert and he was replaced by Peter Dugan. The second change was that Ludwig van Beethoven’s most popular piano and violin sonata, No. 5, called the “Spring” Sonata, would replace Igor Stravinsky’s “Divertimento from the Ballet ‘The Fairy’s Kiss’ for Violin and Piano.” This change made this a “Three Bs” concert: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.
The opening work, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in E Major, BWV 1018, was cleanly played with distinct melodic lines from Park and Dugan, who gracefully supported one another.
The concluding movement was an exciting harbinger of the stormy exchanges between Park and Dugan that were to come in music by Beethoven and Johannes Brahms.
With all due respect for the Stravinsky Divertimento, I was not saddened to hear the Beethoven “Spring” Sonata instead. Park captured the easygoing rapture of the opening movement with beautiful playing, and Dugan played with convincing command the sometimes rough and ready piano part that Beethoven had written for himself.
It was in the second movement, marked “adagio, molto espressivo,” that Park’s violin floated a languorous phrase, with a perfectly even, long bow stroke. It was the essence of “cantabile” (“singable”) playing.
The finale of this Sonata sparked lively give and take between Park and Dugan, which evoked a loud burst of applause at the end.
After intermission, the “Romance” in F Minor, Op. 11, by Antonin Dvorak drew soothing, lyric playing from Park, as this fairly long movement spun out a typically lush Dvorak melody.
If the Dvorak piece lulled us almost to nodding, the Brahms Sonata No. 3 was a wake-up call.
Park and Dugan projected strongly the combat-like clash of violin and piano lines.
The second, adagio, movement, one of my favorite segments of Brahms’ chamber music, was played with admirable emotive insight by Park and Dugan.
By the highly dramatic end of the “presto agitato” finale, this duo had created enough excitement to urge the audience members to rise to their feet in appreciation.
Park then, without mic, alas, announced as encore the “Introduction and Tarantella” by the great Spanish virtuoso, Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908).
This music was intended to show the breathtaking skills of the composer, Sarasate, and in this showpiece, violinist Park, with fine support from Dugan, showed that she is truly a master of her instrument.
Judging from the volume of bravos that followed the Sarasate piece, this recital was a resounding success.
I was saddened to hear that the famous pianist Murray Perahia was ill and had canceled his recital in the Foellinger Great Hall on Feb. 27.
I am sure that those of us who were looking forward to hearing him wish him a speedy recovery, and we hope to hear him in the near future.