Monday March 30th, 2015 - Violinist Lisa Batiashvili (above) joined pianist Paul Lewis for this recital at Alice Tully Hall, the second event of our Great Performers at Lincoln Center subscription series. Sonatas by Schubert and Beethoven book-ended the programme, with some delicious treats in between.
Ms. Batiashvili, who is artist-in-residence for the current New York Philharmonic season, is a slender, elegant beauty gowned in rose-pink. From the opening measures of the Schubert 'Duo' in A-major, she and Mr. Lewis formed an ideal alliance: both players are masters of subtlety, the violinist with her shining clarity of tone, the pianist capable of great delicacy as well as a sense of gentle urgency. Throughout the sonata's opening Allegro moderato, their mutual musicality yielded an uncommonly lovely experience, drawing the large audience into Schubert's world.
In the exuberant charm of the Scherzo which follows, the two players mixed virtuosity with fleeting passages of 'sung' melody; then came the Andantino, with its poignant theme and gracious motif of trills where the artists lingered in music's expressive delights. The final Allegro vivace blends declamation and lilt, carrying us along with its waltzing buoyancy.
As a sort of mega-encore, Ms. Batiashvili and Mr. Lewis offered a vibrant performance of Schubert's Rondo in B minor (“Rondo brillant”) which opens regally and proceeds to a blend of jaunty upward leaps, inviting melodies, and coloratura flights of fancy.
Paul Lewis (above, in a Pia Johnson photo)
Following the interval, each artist took a solo turn. Mr. Lewis's rendering of the Busoni arrangement of Bach's Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland was profoundly beautiful in its grace and simplicity. Ms. Batiashvili played Telemann's Fantaisie No. 4 in D major, its classic three-movement (fast-slow-fast) structure compressed into a five-minute time span, a miniature solo-concerto which was handsomely played.
The Beethoven sonata No. 10, which closed the evening, begins gently with shimmering trills; a simple two-note motif later in the first movement has a hypnotic quality, then back to a trill-filled conclusion before we move on to the achingly gorgeous, sustained melodies of the Adagio espressivo: here Ms. Batiashvili and Mr. Lewis were at their most ravishing. There's no pause as the Adagio yields immediately to the brief, playful Scherzo with both players spinning the music onward. The fourth movement, Poco allegretto, seems calm at first but there's underlying tension building: you can sense an impending flood of energy and surely enough it bursts forth. Both players were on a high here, yet cunningly the composer draws back into a lulling, rather sentimental passage. What then seems like a race to the finish gets momentarily sidetracked again - Beethoven is playing with us - before the last sprint.
Superb music-making in a most congenial space: we left Ms. Batiashvili and Mr. Lewis basking in the warmth of the audience's cheers and applause.
Schubert: Violin Sonata in A major
Schubert: Rondo in B minor (“Rondo brillant”)
Bach (arr. Busoni): Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, for piano
Telemann: Fantaisie No. 4 in D major, for solo violin
Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 10 in G major