Maxim Vengerov & Simon Trpčeski at Carnegie Hall

Sonatas for Violin & Piano by Mozart (E-minor, K304), Prokofiev (No.1 in F-minor, Op.80) & Franck (in A)


Maxim Vengerov (violin) & Simon Trpčeski (piano)

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 20 January, 2022
Venue: Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, New York City

After a two-year absence, Maxim Vengerov was back in Carnegie Hall, this time with Simon Trpčeski. Together they delivered an astutely arranged, elegantly executed program.

The evening opened on a melancholic note with Mozart’s quietly-tragic Sonata in E-minor. From the beginning of the somber opening theme it was obvious that the two musicians take great pleasure in playing together: they were always in sync and totally engaged. Their rapport was most apparent in the second of the two movements where the instruments took turns with the graceful opening melody to deeply probe the depths of Mozart’s disquieting score.

Next came Prokofiev’s darkly brooding F-minor Sonata. From these virtuosos it was absolutely thrilling, Trpčeski’s glacial chords setting the pace in the opening Andante assai, Vengerov’s intense playing became increasingly introspective. Then, in the highly contrasting second movement, a fierce Allegro brusco, Vengerov tore into the music with impressive power, taking its eerie passages to bone-chilling extremes. In the equally divergent final two movements – a gentle Andante followed by an increasingly restless Allegrissimo – the players demonstrated remarkable unity of purpose and coherence. 

The mood lightened in the second half with a glorious, superbly confident reading of César Franck’s enduring Sonata. Trpčeski was especially impressive in the difficult piano part, and Vengerov’s ravishing, warmly expressive playing was distinguished for its natural sense of line and delicacy of tone. Finally Ravel’s blazingly difficult Tzigane, in a stunning performance that showcased Vengerov’s flawless technique. This was followed by three encores, sprightly renderings of Fritz Kreisler’s Liebesleid and Liebesfreud, followed by a tender account of Gabriel Fauré’s Après un Rêve.

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