MAXIM VENGEROV/ LILYA ZILBERSTEIN (10-16-06)
VENGEROV’S VIOLIN ARTISTRY BRINGS AUDIENCE TO ITS FEET
By Lawrence Budmen
Russia has long produced violinists of the most exceptional variety. From Leopold Auer (a colleague of Tchaikovsky and a founder of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute) to Misha Elman, Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, David Oistrakh, and Vladimir Spivakov, the unique Russian tradition has emblazoned the world’s concert stages. Maxim Vengerov upholds that legacy today.
At his recital for the Concert Association on Monday at the Broward Center, Vengerov exhibited a potent combination of masterful technique and probing artistry. He is a thinking man’s violinist.
His Mozart (the Adagio in E Major, K.261) was introspective, phrased in long spun melodic arcs. Instead of the usual hyper-drama, Vengerov’s approach to Beethoven’s Sonata No.7 in C Minor, Op.20 was soulful and ruminative. His reading of the Adagio cantabile emerged silken and pure in tone. Vengerov imbued the music with sadness and contemplation, the subtext that lurks beneath the music’s graceful strophes. A light, playful version of the Scherzo was contrasted with an invigorating trio of almost heroic proportions. In a powerhouse traversal of the finale, Vengerov preferred understated subtlety to exaggerated melodrama.
The supple, incisive pianism of Lilya Zilberstein was a joy to hear. A winner of the Busoni International Competition, Zilberstein was the perfect collaborator. Her pearly tone, musical sensitivity and flexibility matched Vengerov’s acumen at every turn.
Turning to 20th century Russian repertoire, Vengerov delivered a strongly emotive traversal of Prokofiev’s Sonata No.1 in F Minor, Op.80. Instead of playing the piece with superficial lightness and sweetness (as many violinists do), Vengerov emphasized the score’s bleak subtext and tonal ambiguity. With Zilberstein’s fleet, heaven storming finger work, Vengerov brought his own unique blend of brooding intensity and tinted shadow to Prokofiev’s dark ruminations. This work was an Oistrakh specialty; Vengerov proved a worthy successor.
The violinist attacked his own transcription of Ten Preludes (from the 24 Preludes for Piano, Op.34) by Shostakovich with bold, stormy strokes. Vengerov turned Shostakovich’s tribute to Bach into razzle dazzle fiddle vignettes.
Responding to an enthusiastic standing ovation, Vengerov added dashing ornamentation to Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No.5 – the ultimate demonstration of violinistic firepower.
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