I went to this with high expectations after his Khachaturian in the Festival Hall a couple of month ago. I wasn't disappointed. The programme was
Mozart Violin Sonata in E minor, K. 304 (K. 300c)
Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 5 in F, Op. 24 'Spring'
Debussy Violin Sonata in G minor
Schumann Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105
The Mozart was just sublime - it happens to be one of my favourite Mozart Sonatas and one that I play often - sadly not as he can play it - such maturity and feeling and intonation to die for - like all Mozart, the slightest slip has nowhere to hide and he made none - one slightly rasping bow in the 2nd movement and perhaps he indulged himself a little too much in the gorgeous modulation into the major before the end, but these are minor criticisms. The Beethoven was accomplished and daring, lovely smooth runs in the first movement, delicacy in next two and power and delicacy combined in the last. His accompanist, in the first half his father, had a couple of slight lapses but on the whole this was beautiful playing.
After the interval he gave a lyrical reading of the Debussy, technical difficulties of course non existent - one slightly rasping bow in the third movement. I thought at the RFH that he needs a better violin and I am now sure - he is playing on what I suspect to be a moderately undistinguished Guagagnini and it really showed in the Debussy when at times the artifical harmonics scarcely sounded at all. It is a tribute to his power that most of the time he still produces an absolutely gorgeous sound but I would love to hear what he could do on a Strad - it would be something really special. Then he came to the Schumann, with which I was unfamiliar. It was a performance of real passion, both in the first and the last movements, particularly the last where the contest between the piano and the violin was a delight and the power in his bowing really came to the fore. He was particularly well supported on the piano by his sister Lucine, who has real technique and delicacy of touch.
Of course there was a major ovation and 4 curtain calls before he and his father gave us some Sarasate - he didn't announce what & I couldn't quite place it - he did tell me after the concert what it was but I have forgotten again. Rather subdued, few pyrotechnics, typically spanish-sounding. There were another three curtain calls and then he came out and launched into the Ysaye No. 3 as if he were coming out to start a recital, not ending one after two hours of playing. It sparkled, it corruscated, it amazed. What technique - oh wow. At the end there was a standing ovation - well at least I stood, which counts for a standing ovation at the Wigmore!
Afterwards I spoke to a couple of other young professional violinists who I recognised in the audience and got just as high an opinion as I had formed, especially of the Ysaye, which just seemed unbelievable. The main thing was not the pyrotechnics though - this was a beautifully judged programme full of music, with very little techical show-off, and he played it with great judgment and maturity well beyond his years. Afterwards he came out and spent a long time. very charming and relaxed, with the audience, signing CDs etc - very very unusual at the Wigmore. What more can I say - keep an eye on this guy - he is going right to the top - and fast!
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