Midori & Özgür Aydin at Wigmore Hall – Liszt, Elgar, Schoenberg, Richard Strauss

Liszt, arr. David Oistrakh
Soirées de Vienne: Valses caprices d’après Schubert, S427 – Valse caprice No.6
Sonata in E minor for Violin and Piano, Op.82
Phantasy, Op.47
Sonata in E flat for Violin and Piano, Op.18

Midori (violin) & Özgür Aydin (piano)

Reviewed by: Edward Clark

Reviewed: 11 March, 2016
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

MidoriPhotograph: Timothy Greenfield-SandersIn over fifty years of concert-going I don’t think I have attended one with music by Elgar and Schoenberg sharing the limelight. The opportunity of hearing Elgar’s illusive lyricism in his late Violin Sonata followed by the serial rigours of Schoenberg’s Phantasy won’t have been cause for celebration for everybody present at this Wigmore Hall recital. The emotional gap is wide but Midori clearly wants to build bridges and help audiences embrace such normally-avoided juxtapositions.

The result was a stunning display of artistic virtuosity, with Midori helped in her quest for musical magnificence by the expert accompaniment of Ӧzgür Aydin, ever-attentive to her rubato and expressive flow.

The opening number, a re-working by Liszt of a Schubert piano piece and here transcribed by David Oistrakh for violin and piano, is more suited to the role of encore so beguiling is its simple melodic inspiration but it served as an opening into the eloquence contained in Elgar’s beautiful Sonata. It began in forceful mode but Midori relented in the many quiet, wistful passages and seemed to make time stand still at the most inward experiences to heard in this glorious, autumnal music. Throughout she observed the letter and the spirit of the music, so deceptive at times, offering insights aplenty and faith was reinforced in music that sometimes fails to catch fire.

Özgür AydinPhotograph: © Ellen KirkpatrickSchoenberg’s Phantasy (1949) was hardly less impressive. Midori generated lots of drama at the opening but also a softness of tone in the middle, slow section that embraced an almost romantic impulse. This is Schoenberg uncompromising in his rigour yet creating music imbued with a desire to communicate, a goal well-satisfied by Midori’s belief in the work.

The last work was the longest, the early, somewhat discursive, Violin Sonata by Richard Strauss. Midori projected its inherent romanticism superbly, never letting tension drop. Her tone was bright and penetrating and her structural sense in a work that can easily ramble was as tight and secure as can be. She hit a highpoint in the brilliant Finale when Don Juan seemingly makes an early appearance in Strauss’s musical imagination with a bold declaration that sets the heroic tone.

The encore, Elgar’s Salut d’amour, was played with great affection and completed a stimulating evening.

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