Sunday, December 16, 2007

What playing!!!

Did not mean to go to two concerts within 28 hours of landing in Vilnius, though I knew of another concert this afternoon. At lunchtime, after a long run (in better shoes, so no sore feet) and a very nice Irish breakfast, had a look at the Filharmonija website to see what was what. The concert began to look interesting - the second half had Tchaikovsky's trio for violin, cello and piano, which I love. But I did not know the performers, and when there are two of the same surname, I tend to worry; sometimes one can be vastly better than the other and drag the second one along.

Am I glad I went!! What power in playing, what virtuosity! The three were Rasa Vosyliute (violin) and her sister (?) Egle on the piano, with Giedre Dirvanauskaite on the cello. I will use their first names from now on....Rasa and Giedre are, I think, members of the Kremerata Baltica, the young people's chamber orchestra of the three Baltic states. In fact it seems that the Lithuanian end of the orchestra was at the recital in force, and even Gidon Kremer was in the audience (though their interaction at the interval suggested that they had not seen each other recently). Half the Lithuanian chamber orchestra was also there. I noticed that some of the young Lithuanian male musicians have taken it on themselves personally to carry the weight that I lost; haven't they, Mindaugas and Dainius?

The Kremerata does loud, powerful and virtuosic playing, and so did these three. The programming was very interesting, with a Czech first half and the Tchaik in the second half. Starting with Janacek's Fairy Tale(s) for cello and piano. It's clear that Giedre can play it loud and dirty; she has a wonderful attack on her cello - not sure about lyrical because nothing much was that lyrical..... Total control over what she was doing! This piece has a rather odd ending which neither pianist nor cellist nor this member of the audience could do anything with. Weird stuff.

This was followed by Schulhoff's Duo for violin and cello, in memory of Janacek. It's a great piece, with a scintillating second movement (in the 'gypsy' style) and Rasa and Giedre played it extremely well. Schulhoff has written duos for viola and cello, too - I heard them being played by Geringas and a violist; they are also great. Technically both sets are some miles above the eyeglasses duo.

Then Rasa and Egle played some romantic pieces by Dvorak; relatively lightweight stuff but very pretty. The last movement was a bit cliched.

The Tchaikovsky - isn't it long? But it has beauty in every phrase. I know it very well, and my gold standard performance was by the Pauk/Kirshbaum/Frankl trio at the Edinburgh Festival some years ago. This was then, and is even more so now, a bunch of middle-aged men who have played together for a long time, and I suspect that Frankl and Pauk in particular may have lived through some harrowing moments, including rapid departures from Hungary in around 1956. The young ladies in this performance were probably not over 30 and may have experienced fewer personal tragedies (0ne hopes). I'm going into this a bit because this trio is actually a mournful thing, written in 1881-2 in memory of Tchaikovky's friend Nikolai Rubinstein, a pianist (not Artur Rubinstein, as the announcer slipped up). Our young trio played it absolutely stunningly, and extremely virtuosically - but it was the mournful bit that was missing. This piece should have the audience in tears.....

Note for the future - it does not look wonderful in a piano trio if the violinist is standing between the pianist and the cellist, with her back to the pianist. Even though they know each other well, it does not suggest much communication.