Technical and Musical Wizardry from Pinchas Zukerman and Angela Cheng

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms:  Pinchas Zukerman (violin), Angela Cheng (piano) Wigmore Hall, London. 28.03.2016 (LB)

Mozart – Violin Sonata in G major K.301
Beethoven – Violin Sonata No. 3 in E flat major Op.12 No. 3 (1797-8))
Brahms – Scherzo in C minor from F A.E. Sonata (1853)
Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor Op. 108

The twenty first century may well be awash with successful violinists, but few possess the stature, or command the authority of Pinchas Zukerman. The Wigmore Hall was completely full for his recital of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms with pianist Angela Cheng last night, with a sizeable number of additional and willing listeners standing at the back of the hall.

Their performance elicited two encores, Elgar’s Six Very Easy Pieces Op.22 and the Sicilienne by Maria Theresa Paradis; testament to the superlative technical command and communicative power that characterises the exquisitely imaginative collaboration that Pinchas Zukerman enjoys with Angela Cheng.

Pinchas Zukerman’s outstanding mastery of the violin facilitates a rare complexity of musicianship, and Angela Cheng’s virtuosity enables her not only to be an outstanding and creative accompanist alert to every subtle nuance, but also confidently to present musical challenges to the maestro. Such vibrant interaction, effected from a secure technical and musical foundation, executed with integrity and without the need for histrionics, is what distinguishes Zukerman’s performances from countless others.

The popular Mozart Sonata that opened their programme was elegantly presented, with refined phrasing, exceptional clarity of articulation, immaculate interplay between the instruments and a personal and persuasive vision that effectively exploited every musical possibility inherent in the sonata that Mozart had initially conceived for the flute.

The Beethoven Sonata that followed was immediately bolder, full-blooded, direct and emotionally turbulent. Zukerman’s legendary powers of projection ensured that the Wigmore Hall was generously inundated with his lavish sound throughout; fortissimos and pianissimos were equally powerfully projected, and since balance was never going to be an issue, Angela Cheng was liberated to launch herself at the virtuosic piano part with absolute abandon.

Brahms’ Scherzo from the F.A.E. Sonata that resumed proceedings after the interval was delivered with cool efficiency, and Zukerman introduced some subtle portamento, a hint of the passion to come in the D minor Sonata.

The duo’s idiomatic and emotionally charged performance of Brahms’ dramatic Third Violin Sonata, the final piece on the programme, was a real joy to witness. It benefitted from a unique blend of experience, wisdom and determination, taking the audience on an emotionally exhausting, but illuminating and rewarding musical journey.

The appreciative audience seemed reluctant to let Zukerman and Cheng go, but after two encores this exhibition of technical and musical wizardry regrettably had to come to an end.

Leon Bosch



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