Sunday, December 17, 2006

No whimsy here

Today's concert in Vilnius was by the violinist Marija Nemanyte and the pianist Daumantas Kirilauskas. Both are Lithuanians who have studied abroad (Kirilauskas) or are still working abroad (Nemanyte). I must confess that 'ah ken Marija's faither'. Both her parents are violists, but Marija plays violin. Nobody's perfect, I guess ;-).

The programme included Haydn's Sonata Hob. XV:32, Schnittke's Sonata No 1 for violin and piano, Webern's 4 pieces for the same combination, and Strauss' violin/pianoflat major, op 18. I might have heard the Haydn before, but did not know the other pieces.

Ms Nemanyte is a very forceful player, attacking her violin with all she has got. I wonder how she would do with very romantic music, say, the Massenet 'Meditation' or some Kreisler. As it was, the music was chosen to show her strengths, and this it did. I was confused at the beginning, because the Haydn is supposed to start with an Andante, but the tempo seemed like anything but an Andante. Still, the second movement, Allegro, was faster than the first.

Similarly in the Schnittke the difference between the Andante and the Allegretto was very slight. This was an interesting piece, particularly so since, unlike Schnittke's other pieces, it did not seem particularly 'poly-stylistic', mixing elements of all styles from baroque to contemporary. This really was quite contemporary. Nemanyte is used to Schnittke, because she plays in the Kremerata Baltica and only yesterday she was seen on the Mezzo channel playing one of the Schnittke concerti grossi. She seemed quite at home in this piece. To my mind, Schnittke is not played enough, but his music is not everyone's taste.

The Webern (not one of my favourite composers) was over in 5 minutes (all 4 pieces). The two slow movements were played with a practice mute - which was fine, except the concert hall is near a busy road and we could very clearly hear the traffic passing. It was somewhat esoteric, rather more symbolical than real violin playing, with the odd note here and there.

The Strauss sonata reminded me of his horn concertos; lush late romantic music, lots of notes, not extremely virtuosic (only virtuosic) and very expertly produced by the duo. It was a good piece to finish a concert on, and a great thrower-out for the audience. This piece should be played more often.