Friday, July 24, 2015

CMNW's Summer Festival closes out Beethoven series with the mighty 'Kreutzer' Sonata

Augustin Hadelich
Thursday July 16 saw the finale of Chamber Music Northwest's Summer Fesival's three-concert series of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas. Each concert presented a different pair of musicians, and the sonatas were not presented chronologically. The July 16 program consisted of Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Major Op. 12, No. 1, No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 23, and No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47, the famous 'Kreutzer' Sonata. Violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Inon Barnatan were the artists.

Opening with Sonata No. 1, there were some deft exchanges between performers. Of particular interest were the moments when violin and piano briefly shifted roles with Hadelich playing accompaniment to Barnatan. Hadelich especially seemed to relish these moments, holding back and seeming to enjoy being out of the spotlight for a moment. Although Barnatan had a tendency to overpower the violin from time to time, there were deft and perfect call and response passages in this first movement. Hadelin played with a well-rounded tone, rich and full, which was needed with the rather loud piano. In the final movement he employed a bold saltando in some memorable passages that further helped balance the sound. Sonata No. 4 was rather pacific; warm and friendly. However, it felt rather muted at times.

Inon Barnatan
The entire second half consisted of the mighty Kreutzer sonata, immortalized in literature and film as well as in the concert hall since its debut. The opening Adagio Sostenuto - Presto really took flight in the presto portion, with Hadelich's lightning-fast spiccato highlighted by difficult and brilliantly-executed chordal passages from the piano. There were moments of high drama, Beethoven's famous sturm und drang, yet the players were not completely swept up: light, almost comedic moments were delivered with as much gusto as the boldest of storms.  The hopping melodic content of the Andante con variazione Hadelich rendered in a cavalier, almost gentile fashion. There was real transportative beauty here, times when one is caught up and surroundings seem to fade. Not an easy task to accomplish.

There were some instances, mostly in the first half, that felt overly restrained, but this in part may have been due to the violin sometimes being subsumed by the piano, not an ideal situation for a violin sonata needless to say. As a Beethoven lover, though, there was not much to find fault with here. By and large, Hadelich hit this one out of the park.

The CMNW Summer  festival concludes Saturday and Sunday the 25th and 26th with the Concerto Festival Finale.

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