Anthony Marwood & Aleksandar Madzar

Sonata in E, BWV1016
Sonata for violin and piano
Violin Sonata No.2 in D minor, Op.121

Anthony Marwood (violin) & Aleksandar Madzar (piano)

Reviewed by: Ying Chang

Reviewed: 14 May, 2006
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Duo recitals are performed in two ways: by two soloists (or worse, one and an accompanist) and as extensions of chamber music. Maxim Vengerov and Lilya Zilberstein at the Barbican Hall, a couple of days earlier, represented the former, Anthony Marwood and Aleksandar Madzar the latter.

This was a cool, controlled recital, a Wigmore Hall “Coffee Concert”, classical in an aesthetic sense. Marwood and Madzar were deliberately unshowy, even understated, but gave the three sonatas an unusual clarity of detail and direction. The Debussy in particular had a sense of organic evolution, the phrasing expertly exchanged between the two instruments. The interpretations, overall, were intuitively thoughtful, with effortless poise at critical moments.

Madzar (first known here in London as a 1996 Leeds competitor) is an excellent pianist, able to be expressive without ever deviating from a strict rhythmical pulse or a carefully weighted balance of sound. He radiated security – a good man to have on one’s side in a penalty shoot-out. How exact were the repeated chord motifs in the Schumann. Only occasionally, as in the scherzo of the same work, did Madzar allow a greater richness of tone to enter his playing.

Marwood, best known as a soloist and as a member of the exemplary Florestan trio, plays with deep respect for the music. Between them, the Bach received solid, expository treatment, outstandingly clear in the audibility of the individual lines and voices.

Above all it was a cerebral pleasure to listen to this recital – the Debussy slow movement was more leger than fantastique. Similarly, the performers did not attempt to disguise what are quite rambling outer movements in the Schumann. But the trace of didacticism that made these interpretations lack the last element of magic is infinitely preferable to self-indulgence and egotism.

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