Schubert Rarities Brilliantly Played

United StatesUnited States  Schubert: Julio Elizalde (piano), Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu (violin), Olympic Music Festival, Quilcene, WA, 17.8.2013 (BJ)

Schubert: Six Moments musicaux for piano D. 780
Rondo brillant in B minor for piano and violin, D. 895
Impromptu No. 1 in C minor for piano, D. 899
Fantasy in C major for piano and violin, D. 934

Even with a composer as well known and widely admired as Schubert, enterprising program planning can offer audiences an experience as fresh as it is satisfying. The solo piano works Julio Elizalde played in this fascinating Schubert program are hardly unfamiliar, and not only on the recital stage: the second Moment musical in particular, with its wistful melancholy, made an unforgettable impression on the soundtrack of Louis Malle’s superb 1987 film Au revoir les enfants. The two works in which a violin joins the piano, however, are rarely heard: Brian Newbould, in his excellent book on the composer, describes the B-minor Rondo not unjustly as “one of the best-kept secrets among connoisseurs of Schubert’s mature oeuvre.”

Neither the Rondo nor the Fantasy for the same two instruments can make much of an effect in anything less than a spectacular performance. Happily, both players on this occasion were fully equipped with the virtuosity and expressive intensity that the music calls for. Elizalde threw off one arresting stroke of keyboard brilliance after another, and Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu confirmed her status as a young violinist of exceptional gifts, with an accuracy of intonation and a flashing clarity of bowing that kept her listeners on the edge of their seats.

In the solo piano works on the program, which are mostly concerned less with virtuosity than with a wide and delicately contrasting range of emotional expression, Elizalde was his customary perceptive self. The faster pieces received all the crisply rhythmic projection that they demand. But in the end, along with Wu’s superb playing, it was the delicately etched pathos Elizalde found in that magical Moment musical that stayed most vividly in my mind.

Bernard Jacobson