Maxim Vengerov & Lilya Zilberstein

Mozart
Adagio in E, K261
Beethoven
Sonata in C minor, Op.30/2
Prokofiev
Violin Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.80
Shostakovich
10 Preludes [arr. Dmitri Tziganov from 24 Preludes, Op.34]

Maxim Vengerov (violin) & Lilya Zilberstein (piano)


Reviewed by: Rob Pennock

Reviewed: 11 May, 2006
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

Maxim Vengerov has already recorded most of the concerto repertoire with somewhat variable results and there has always been a suspicion that he is more at home in, say, Ysaÿe than Beethoven. But whatever the doubts about his interpretative abilities, Vengerov is certainly a stylish dresser – here he was in his trademark black, with a very elegant frock-coat and his greased hair swept back, reminiscent of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.

The Mozart is bland music and it received a bland performance, with some sharp intonation and much cloying tone and phrasing. Beethoven’s C minor Sonata is a rather more challenging work; the performance occasionally hinted at some interest from the violinist but was generally uneventful and evenly paced. In the first movement the rhythm was metronomic, sforzandos and staccato were virtually non-existent and there was no tonal projection. The Adagio flowed smoothly by with an almost complete lack of emotional engagement from Vengerov; only in the pizzicato episode of the coda did he sound poised and reflective. In the scherzo there was no bucolic rusticity to the attack and phrasing, and the intonation was suspect. Much the same could be said of the finale, which lacked bounce and a limited dynamic range.

By some distance the most distinctive contribution of the evening came from Lilya Zilberstein who invested every note with life and meaning. I often found myself being able to ignore the violin and listen to her phrasing and rhythmic point and delicacy.

The second half of the recital was little better. In the imposing, dark opening of the Prokofiev the sound was too refined and there was little sense of questioning or doubt. In the Allegro brusco more savagery was needed and a far greater variety of tone. The slow movement lacked fire and rapture and the finale was featureless.

The Shostakovich pieces, arranged from his 24 Preludes (for piano) by his friend Dmitri Tziganov, do not contain much great music, but they do need rather more intensity. No.2 was too civilised, No.4 lacked sardonic humour and No.8 needed far more élan and pointing. In No.3 Vengerov regrettably indulged the use of sweet threads of sound at ppp and below; he had done this less blatantly throughout the recital, but here he actually smiled at the audience as he executed this interpretative irrelevance.



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