In performance: Dautricourt and Jokubaviciute
Belgian work highlights duo's lyrical contemporary evening
by Charles T. Downey
On Monday night La Maison Française presented another concert of contemporary music, by French violinist Nicolas Dautricourt, who inaugurated this series in 2005. For a program on the theme of musical modernism, it was an evening distinguished more by lyrical beauty than the harshness often associated with experimental music.
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At the heart of the first half were pieces by the triumvirate of the Second Viennese School. In Berg’s op. 1 piano sonata, dating from the period of his studies with Arnold Schoenberg but before the development of the twelve-tone compositional process, pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute played with confident virtuosity and a moody spontaneity that emphasized the work’s chromatic, almost jazz-like harmonies. Webern’s more atonal four pieces for violin and piano, op. 7, were compressed almost to the point of implosion: the soft movements sounded like nothing more than a few drips of water into a puddle and some hoarse whispers. Only in Schoenberg’s op. 47 fantasy did Dautricourt’s technique weaken slightly, with some of the harmonics sounding scratchy and elusive.
At the end of the Schoenberg, Dautricourt dislodged the chin piece from his violin, and it continued to come loose and cause trouble in later pieces. With or without the chin piece, the recital’s outer works provided the most beautiful moments, especially Messiaen’s melodically rich “Thème et variations,” made lush by Dautricourt’s honey-sweet tone. The best discovery of the evening was a violin concerto by Belgian composer Piet Swerts, “Zodiac,” chosen as the compulsory work for the finals of the 1993 Queen Elisabeth Competition. As performed in a reduction for piano by Jokubaviciute, it featured driving rhythmic patterns reminiscent of Prokofiev’s more barbaric style but also an original melodic turn, pretty but with bite.
--Charles T. Downey
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