Midori gives brilliant recital for Shriver Hall Concert Series
It is hardly news that Midori is a superb violinist. At 14, she was already making waves for her technical polish and professional poise -- she hit the front-page of the New York Times at that age for the feat of playing Leonard Bernstein's "Serenade" flawlessly, despite having to change violins twice in mid-performance due to broken strings, as an awed Bernstein conducted.
Unlike any number of other prodigies, Midori developed steadily and deeply as a musician. Today, at 38, she remains in a class by herself. Her remarkable artistic maturity was reaffirmed Sunday evening in her thoroughly arresting Shriver Hall Concert Series debut.
She opened her program with the rather elusive Hindemith's E-flat major Sonata (Op. 11, No. 1), and proceeded to limn its subtle expressive power eloquently, supported ably by pianist Robert McDonald. Midori's pinpoint intonation, subtly controlled vibrato and poetic phrasing proved equally telling in Brahms' G major Sonata -- just the gentle way the violinist entered the musical dialog was in itself remarkably beautiful and affecting. I would have liked to hear more tonal richness and personality from McDonald in the Brahms work (and elsewhere in the program, for that matter), but the smoothness and clarity of his partnering held its own rewards.
The violinist produced a wealth of atmospheric coloring in
de Falla's "Suite Populaire Espagnole," phrasing the melodic lines like a great singer. For sheer fireworks, there was Ravel's "Tzigane," which Midori tackled with startling brio.
But the summit in this recital of Alpine peaks came when when she had the stage to her herself (along with the overflow from the sold-out house sitting there) for Bach's unaccompanied G minor Sonata. Here, Midori cast quite a spell with her blend of sterling virtuosity and vividly poetic phrasing. Even coughing and other assorted distractions in the audience could not distract from such intensely soulful music-making. (This wasn't the finest hour for the Shriver crowd. In addition -- Midori and McDonald had to wait for a persistent cell phone to be silenced before even starting the recital).
For an encore, the duo offered a delectable account of Kreisler's "Syncopation," a piece that sounds like a cross-pollination of Johann Strauss and Scott Joplin.
PHOTO BY TIMOTHY GREENFIELD-SANDERS COURTESY OF KATHRYN KING MEDIA