Sonata for Violin and Piano
Romance for Violin and Piano, Op.23
Sonata in E flat for Violin and Piano, Op.18
Elena Urioste (violin) & Michael Brown (piano)
Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood
Reviewed: 2 December, 2013
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Richard Strauss’s only published Violin Sonata is a relatively common repertoire piece these days, and it demands as much from its piano part as it does from the athletic violin writing. This was one of the more refined performances of the work I have heard, for Brown was very careful not to overplay his role, bringing clarity to even the most congested, quasi-orchestral passages that Strauss writes for the piano. Urioste could have projected a little more, particularly at the beginning of the first and third movements, but her confidence in the soaring trajectory of Strauss’s slower themes was impressive, leading to some lovingly delivered phrases. The improvisatory second movement held the emotional heart of this performance, romantic but not too sentimental. The third movement could have thrown more caution to the winds as it changed from Andante to Allegro, but the players nonetheless delivered a focussed and musically intelligent reading. As an encore Urioste and Brown offered Jascha Heifetz’s arrangement of the Gershwins’ ‘It ain’t necessarily so’, a good choice and a stylish performance. Fun, too!