Vadim Repin & Itamar Golan

Sonata for Violin and Piano
Sonata for Piano and Violin in C minor, Op.30/2Ravel
Sonata for Violin and Piano
Poème, Op.25

Vadim Repin (violin) & Itamar Golan (piano)

Reviewed by: Kenneth Carter

Reviewed: 18 February, 2007
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Queen Elizabeth Hall

Set beside Vengerov or Tetzlaff, Repin is not a household name – except in my household and a few others I could mention. I fully endorse the panegyric at the head of the programme: “He can master the most dangerous challenges with an almost provocative serenity. Fiery passion with impeccable technique, poetry and sensitivity are Repin’s trademarks.”

A serious accident prevents Nicolai Lugansky from accompanying Repin for some time to come. However, Repin has often played with Itamar Golan. Golan’s prowess and skills in robust, sympathetic and intelligently participating partnership were abundantly evident in this concert.

Challengingly, they began with Janáček – with the strange rather than the familiar. The choice was shrewd. This idiosyncratic masterpiece vividly demonstrated Repin’s exceptional powers of interpretation. In the first movement, the violin throws out gruff interpolations and highly-charged emotional fragments while the piano flutters in some agitation. Repin’s utterances were brusque and vulnerable, fragmentary and yet on-going, lyrical and coherent. The later melodies sang with surging, fluent Innigkeit – cool yet deeply-impassioned. Their performance was haunting. And this is the point. Much was to follow – yet memories of the Janáček were paramount.

The Beethoven seemed less by comparison – vigorous but not blazing, vital and quirky but not exactly crashing through the constraints of convention. The passion was nerve-driven rather than dynamic, exterior rather than interior. I did not sense that Repin has yet got under Beethoven’s skin.

The Ravel was extraordinary. Repin had no problems with the fiendish difficulty of this work – or, later, Tzigane. The ‘Blues’ movement had steely, magisterial delicacy and fineness of expression.

Chausson’s Poème followed, its lush, abundant romanticism in stark contrast with Ravel’s refinement and austerity. I revelled, too, in the increasing virtuosity demanded. Further, it gave Repin a chance to display impassioned, soaring ardour akin to Tchaikovsky. Then, brilliantly selected, Repin ended the devised programme with the much more hard-headed pyrotechnics of Tzigane in as flamboyant an exhibition of supreme technical skills as one could wish. One of Bartók’s Romanian Dances provided a manic and rustic encore.

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