Inaugural concert of the Amici della Musica Society Concert Series.

Verona,  Teatro Ristori,   Amici della Musica Society Concert Series,  2013-2014 Season.
Violin Isabelle Faust
Piano Alexander Melnikov
Robert Schumann: Three Romances for violin and piano op.94
Johannes Brahms: Violin Sonata in A major, N°2, op.100, the “Thuner Sonata” ; Violin and Piano Sonata in D min. N°3, op 108
Morton Feldman: Vertical Thoughts 2(1963) for violin and piano
Sergei Prokofiev: Five Songs without Words op.35 for violin and piano
John Cage:Nocturne for violin and piano
Verona. 14th October, 2013.

Over the years, the Amici della Musica Society in Verona, has provided Veronese music-lovers with an increasingly  rich and varied programme of  European artists of the highest calibre, embracing both established and emerging soloists and chamber music groups.  This year’s inaugural concert   was given by the renowned violinist Isabelle Faust and the pianist Alexander Melnikov, who chose a varied programme centred around the second and third Brahms sonatas for violin and piano. The evening began with the intimate and lyrical Three Romances op.94, in the violin version,  by Robert Schumann.  The duo immediately entered into the intense and intimate liederistic dialogue in the melodic wanderings between the parts. With exquisite attentiveness,  they shaped and moulded every note, drawing out the personal,  tender, sentimental and amorous tones of the romances.  The atmosphere of introspection, so beautifully portrayed was however almost too rarefied on the violin, and its voice verged on the inaudible.  This dynamic restraint characterized the evening as a whole, and only in the Brahms sonata n° 3 was there any recourse to a greater degree of sonority.  But the musical and interpretative intentions were in any case clear, cherished and communicated. Notwithstanding the delicacy of the violin line, the pianist was never overpowering, but always remained in perfect equilibrium. Melnikov’s technical and expressive mastery, the clarity of his articulation, the levity of his touch, his ability to colour and highlight a note or phrase, illuminating  fascinating aspects of the score while remaining in perfect harmony with the violin, make him a perfect chamber music partner.  Isabelle Faust’s unquestionable technical skill and excellence were definitely put at the service of a refined and profoundly individual exploration of timbre and phrasing.  The two short contemporary pieces by Cage and Feldman, illustrated commendably by the composer Giovanni Bertelli, were moments of intense and suspended calm,  providing a brief and suggestive contrast  within the programme.  The Five Songs Without Words op 35 by Prokofiev, written as a vocalise to explore the techniques and tonalities of the human voice , is a minor masterpiece.  This violin version, which surpasses the original in popularity,  notwithstanding its technical challenges remains fundamentally melancholy in character.  The long taut line, especially in the first and last songs, the ethereal, haunting melodies, vaporous sonorities and subtlety of  the deft colourings and textual nuances  were exalted by the two artists, serving as a  perfect foil for the ensuing Brahms sonata n°3.  Just as in the first part of the programme the performers had conveyed the radiance and intimacy of the sonata n°2 with great naturalness and sensitive attention to the balance between the liricism and virtuosity that pervades it, so in the sonata n°3, a work conceived on a much larger scale, they projected the greater fullness of sound required to express the full value of the rich creativity incorporated within the ever shifting permutations of the thematic material. Together with the refined expressivity of Isabelle Faust,  Melnikov again shone for his perfect control of  proportions, without allowing himself to be confined by them. The superimposed lines and voices of the piano part were always distinguishable, thanks also to his parsimonious use of the pedal, the ebb and flow of his dynamics, and the deployment of a  wide range of colours. No light-hearted or virtuoso encore in response to the warm and enthusiastic applause, but characteristically, the gentle and reflective first movement of the César Franck violin sonata. Photo Brenzoni

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