I could discuss her intonation, her technical prowess, her stage presence. But clearly I wouldn’t write "wow" if she’d played out of tune, fumbled her spiccato, or presented herself like a nervous wreck. She hit it out of the ballpark on all counts, as did her stellar pianist, Jeremy Thompson, her perfect musical partner. And the applause from the live audience at VCU confirmed I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Beyond the skills and musicianship on display, the repertoire selected was exciting. I knew only two pieces on the program, yet discovered five more I would dearly love to hear again (and one I might even attempt to play). A link to the program and accompanying notes written by Ms. Klein are included in the YouTube description.
In a twist from traditional programming that typically starts with the earliest piece written and progresses to the most contemporary, Ms. Klein began with music by a living composer – Jhula Jhule by Reena Esmail (b. 1983). She followed with Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Violin Sonata No. 7 in c minor, Op. 30, No. 2. Rather than feeling jarred by the two-century backward jump in time, the sequence of the pieces beautifully demonstrated how lush and rich Beethoven’s work is, and how deeply romantic. In fact, "romantic" could easily have been the theme for this concert, as Ms. Klein seemed to bring forth the romantic nature in each composer she presented.
Ms. Klein and Mr. Thompson performing Phillip Fridriech Böddecker’s Sonata in D minor.
After a 30-second offstage break to tune following the Beethoven, Ms. Klein returned with Flausino Vale’s (1894-1954) Preludios No. 3 and 1 – beautiful solo violin pieces filled with double stops, fingered harmonics, and technical challenges. The duo was followed by my personal favorite of the evening, Phillip Fridriech Böddecker’s (1607-1683) Sonata in D minor, which had us firmly rooted in the Baroque style. Again, one might think this would be a jarring juxtaposition, but the contrast made clear the layered complexity of this Baroque gem, with its underlying romantic spirit.
Next, we heard Karol Szymanowski’s (1882-1937) La Fontain d’Arethuse, followed by an exquisite performance of Edward Elgar’s (1857-1934) Salut D’Amour. If Fontain was the icing on the cake, then Salut was certainly the cherry on top. It was a wonderful way to end an absolutely beautiful hour of music, exquisitely performed by both artists.
Author’s note: Susanna Klein is my online violin teacher and a frequent contributor to violinist.com.
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