Michael Traub
1 minute read
27 Aug 2013
6:00 am

Improving dynamics

Michael Traub

The substantial first half of the violin recital by Joanna Westers began with the so-called Spring Sonata by Beethoven, his fifth violin sonata out of ten.

There was an air of tentativeness about the performance. The violin tone was not warm enough, and although ensemble with pianist Anne Marshall was good, she didn’t provide more than a rather small-scale accompaniment.

From then onwards, the playing took on a whole new dimension in Faure’s Sonata No. 1 in A major, opus 13, a grand work quite often without the elusiveness that characterises the composer’s later compositions. There was passion aplenty in the three movements in quick tempo.

The Sonata No. 1 in A minor, opus 105, by Schumann opened the second half. Despite the late opus number, the work shows no signs of the tiredness which bedevils many of Schumann’s late compositions as the composer’s dementia developed. Marshall was in top form in the Faure and Schumann. An unaccompanied Elegiac Poem by Ysaye, with the lowest string of the violin tuned down, proved to be a work of substance, combining violinistic fireworks with attractive content.

The programme concluded with an arrangement of Dvorak’s Humoresque, played in G major, an odd way to end the recital as it is a mere salon trifle.

The encore, Ravel’s exotic and difficult Tzigane, reverted to music of importance. The playing was as virtuoso as was needed.