Giuliano Carmignola & Kristian Bezuidenhout at Wigmore Hall – Sonatas for Violin & Keyboard by Johann Sebastian Bach & Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Sonata in A for Violin and Keyboard, BWV1015
Sonata in E for Violin and Keyboard, BWV1016
Sonata in A for Keyboard and Violin, K526

Giuliano Carmignola (violin) & Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano)

Reviewed by: Peter Reed

Reviewed: 16 February, 2015
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Giuliano CarmignolaPhotograph: © Anna Carmignola / DGThere wasn’t anything printed or spoken as to whether the partnership between Giuliano Carmignola and Kristian Bezuidenhout was new or not, but they joined forces at Wigmore Hall as if made to perform together.

For those undecided about which side of the Bach harpsichord/piano fence to fall, perhaps Bezuidenhout’s beautifully voiced copy of an 1805 Walter & Sohn fortepiano is the answer, especially since it has both una corda and moderator changes of registration, which Bezuidenhout deployed to telling effect. The results in the two J. S. Bach Sonatas were very seductive: the decorations curled out of the instrument with an extra bloom and resonance, and the way Carmignola’s upper range on his lovely Guidantus instrument of 1739 was able to dominate the fortepiano’s without obliterating it added another layer of interest.

© Marco BorggreveCarmignola’s ability to draw the listener into the music was exceptional, whether by the sheer zest of his attack and stylish clarity in the fast movements of the Bach or in the supercharged, rhapsodic emotion he drew from the slow movements. In the opening movement of the A major Sonata, he took Bach’s Dolce marking to heart in playing of lyrical freedom, and in the second Adagio of the E major he unfolded its long-breathed, melismatic aria with a serenity underpinned by the closeness of his rapport with Bezuidenhout, who paced the A major’s amiable Andante with a clear idea of its character and potential for duet.

These two artists are Mozart naturals and it showed in their scintillating performance of the big Sonata K526, in which any demarcation between soloist and accompanist were triumphantly blurred. Carmignola’s wiry intensity of tone gave the virtuoso outer movements even more brio, and Bezuidenhout clearly relished the concerto-like challenges of the piano’s role. Their identification with the spirit of this late work was painfully evident in the Andante, an astonishing movement performed with a fine appreciation of its emotional depth and complexity. Their decisively played encore was the finale from Bach’s B minor Sonata, BWV1014.

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