Grace Park and Joseph Liccardo
My anticipation of this event grew when I learned that Ms. Park was playing a 1799 Nicolas Lupot violin.
Mozart: Sonata for Violin and Piano in E flat Major K. 481
The first movement contains lively dialog between violin and piano. Ms. Park and Mr. Liccardo maintained an apparently effortless coordination, allowing the Molto Allegro to flow naturally across the movement’s choppy phrasing.
In the Adagio, Ms. Park’s violin rose gracefully (sic) over the accompaniment, first as a slow dance and then to sing. In her hands this violin shone in the higher registers.
Overall, Mozart’s Sonata No. 33 was a well-balanced collaboration between two musicians who clearly loved what they were doing.
Brahms: Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano in A major Op. 100
This warm, entertaining work was at times expressively lyrical. At other times it was technically demanding. In fact, the Sonata was a showpiece for both musicians.
In that regard, there were moments when Joseph’s piano sounded as sweet as Grace’s exotic violin. And I enjoyed Ms. Park’s vibrant pizzicato immensely.
Neither musician wasted energy on superfluous showmanship. But I had to chuckle when Brahms got the violinist dancing around (apparently on bare feet).
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir d’un lieu cher Op. 42
Souvenir is a wonderfully Russian work and quintessential Tchaikovsky.
There are pounding rhythms reminiscent of the 3rd movement of the 6th Symphony, and soaring melodies. The performers were equally at ease with both.
And again, the collaboration between pianist and violinist was perfect.
Stravinsky: Divertimento for Violin and Piano after ‘The Fairy’s Kiss’
This work is Stravinsky’s derivation (with violinist Samuel Dushkin) from his own orchestral ballet “The Fairy’s Kiss”, which in turn was based on songs by Tchaikovsky.
That said, Divertimento is very much Stravinsky’s own unique work, with manic dance rhythms and echoes of his other compositions.
Notwithstanding that they had already been playing for an hour, Mr. Liccardo and Ms. Park engaged Stravinsky with vigor and enthusiasm. The result was a highly enjoyable and often compelling performance.
Nicolas Lupot Violin
Some refer to Lupot as the “French Stradivarius”. I didn’t know what to expect of such a unique instrument as his 1799 violin from Paris, but I noticed a particular sweetness in the upper middle register.
Later I asked Ms. Park what it is like for her to play the Lupot. She responded that the instrument is in perfect condition, very responsive to the performer, and crystal clear especially at the top end.
“It sparkles differently than a Strad”, she said. “I love it.”