Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Eberle/Wosner @ Wigmore Hall, London

24 October 2011

BBC Radio 3s New Generation Artists scheme goes from strength to strength. This annual selection of a handful of rising musical stars gives soloists and ensembles the chance to perform and record around the UK. But is also offers audiences a kitemark of talent and professionalism, which was exactly what was on display during this lunchtime concert by violinist Veronika Eberle and pianist Shai Wosner.

The pair offered a neatly balanced programme of works from either side of the First World War. Debussys Violin Sonata in G minor was penned in 1917 and was the composers last completed work. Written while Debussys health was in steep decline (he was to die of cancer the following year) and during an especially grim period of the war, the sonata is spare, even severe, in style. Yet it also harks back to what Debussy considered to be a purer French form of music inherited from Rameau and his contemporaries.

Eberle clearly knows the work well, and responded beautifully to its underlying sense of melancholy. Not that the sonata is a weepy dirge. It is characterised, too, by several of Debussys favourite musical themes: hints of the blues, Spanish colouring and commedia dellarte acrobatics. Eberle easily surmounted the technical difficulties of the solo writing, while ably supported by Wosner, himself a former New Generation Artist.

Wosner displayed his own considerable skills in Bartks Violin Sonata No. 1. Written in 1921, it looks forward to a brave new musical world and is full of radical harmonies and rhythms. At its core are the Hungarian folk inflections that dominate so many of Bartks compositions. The work is essentially a sonata for violin and a sonata for piano at the same time, with the two instruments only occasionally accompanying and blending with each other. For her part, Eberle confidently and skilfully tackled some fiendishly difficult writing. Her ability to convince with folk themes and effects was especially noticeable. Wosner also had his work cut out, with complex figuration and sudden shifts in tempo. Yet despite the diversity of their parts, both performers managed to keep up the impression of a united sonata.

The concert will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 29 October at 14.00.

Further details of Wigmore Hall concerts can be found at wigmore-hall.org

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