Suliman Tekalli and Mika Sasaki
The published program included works ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to Saint Saens.
Bach Violin Sonata No. 2 in A minor
Suliman introduced this work by noting Bach’s mastery of writing for multiple voices. He explained how remarkable it is that 3 voices can be played on a solo violin.
Listening to those voices as played by Mr. Tekalli, I felt that Bach’s work belonged in a soaring cathedral rather than an enclosed recital space. But even without a cathedral, Mr. Tekalli projected the essential spirituality of Bach.
Paganini Caprice No. 24
This famous violin solo is physically demanding for the violinist. I was impressed by the complex pizzicato towards 3 minutes into the piece, during which Tekalli plucked strings using fingers from both left and right hands, while at the same time stopping strings with the left.
Tekalli’s energetic performance earned cheers, during which we saw him shake his slender fingers loose after their vigorous workout.
Brahms Violin Sonata Op. 78 No. 1 in G major – Vivace ma non troppo
As the first work of the evening in which Ms. Sasaki participated, this was a fine showpiece for collaboration and a feast for Brahms fans. I loved the to-and-fro between the instruments. Mr. Tekalli’s assertive lyricism was captivating, outdoing even my perennial favorite Ida Haendel.
Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 K.219 – Allegro aperto
As Suliman stated, everyone knows the sunshine that is Mozart. Indeed this was a delightful romp, during which Ms. Sasaki managed to accompany the violin without overwhelming it with the low-end power of Mr. Shoemaker’s Steinway. And there was an unexpected bonus in the form of real evening sunshine, which for a few minutes cast a moving shadow from violin and bow on the salon wall.
Lei Yusheng Festival of the City of Flowers
This new work from Chinese instrumentalist Lei Yusheng was a late addition to the program. Tekalli informed us that he had received it only recently from the composer.
As he explained, the work can be thought of as a hybrid of 19th century composers such as Kreisler and Strauss, and Chinese melodies. While China has become a classical music powerhouse in the 21st century, I never expected to hear 19th century Viennese waltzes from a 21st century composer of any nationality!
It was hard to resist the pulse of these waltzes. At times the piano took center stage, showcasing Ms. Sasaki’s command of the instrument while the violin played a subsidiary role.
I greatly enjoyed this work, and members of the audience whom I consulted afterwards considered Yusheng to be the highlight of their evening. We joked that our small group may have inadvertently witnessed a world premiere.
Saint Saens Caprice d’Apres l’Etude en Forme de Valse, Op. 52 No. 6 (arr. Ysaÿe)
In an evening of such musical contrasts, Tekalli’s Saint Saens seemed out of place. This illustrates the challenges of putting a recital program together. Coming after Lei Yusheng, it seemed like an anticlimax. At another venue, it would have stood out better.
Debussy Beau Soir
Such was the lean beauty of Suliman Tekalli’s tone for Debussy’s two-minute gem, that the violin at times seemed muted. Ms. Sasaki’s artfully restrained piano collaboration added sonorous background and moments of bright punctuation to the violin’s serene song. This piece was a fitting and magical end to the recital. It had indeed been un beau soir – a beautiful evening, as we saw from the rooftop afterwards.
On August 18th Suliman Tekalli will participate in the Schoenfeld International String Competition in Harbin, China.