Music / “Wildschut & Brauss” At Llewellyn Hall, November 27. Reviewed by DANTE COSTA.
ON their first Australian tour, violinist Noa Wildschut and pianist Elisabeth Brauss captivated the audience at Llewellyn Hall with an enchanting program of magical music.
Unbelievably only in their twenties, this powerhouse duo has won accolades throughout Europe, and with their great musical tenacity shown in this concert, it is easy to understand why.
Opening with Schumann’s “Violin Sonata No.1 in A Minor”, the duo put on full display their responsive and passionate playing. This was a strong indication of what was to follow.
Next was an enchanting interpretation of “Thème et Variations” by Messiaen. This piece gives the impression that it begins before the violinist even touches their bow to the strings; it’s a mysterious sound – a whisper – that appears out of thin air. Wildschut and Bruass’ refined and thoughtful phrasing was mesmerising as the long, asymmetric passages were effortlessly weaved in between the two parts in a magical dialogue. The piece concluded just as it opened, the mysterious harmonies vanishing into thin air.
Followed by Debussy’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor”, Wildschut put on a tantalising display combining theatrical playing and the subtle sounds of the violin. Colourful harmonics shimmered atop the piano line as Brauss’ sensitive and intimate playing filled the hall.
The last movement titled “Très animé” was played jubilantly, the final notes a crisp chord with a cherry-on-top harmonic in the violin, bringing everything together in a skilful display of the duo’s musical sophistication.
Following an interval, the duo presented a sensational premiere of “Forces of Nature” by Melbourne-based composer May Lyon, who was in the audience and gave a brief introduction of the piece. Lyon describes it as evoking “two polar opposites: the summer melt of ice and an erupting volcano.”
In this piece, an imaginative use of the violin and piano come together to suggest various landscapes, both real and imaginary. Tone colours vary from gentle light refracting off an icy body of water represented by crystal clear harmonics to the pesante, grating of the bow against the string, personifying a volcanic eruption.
The wild intensity juxtaposed with the more subtle gestures exploited the full dynamic and tonal range of the instruments, but the technical demands were performed with ease by this mesmerising duo.
The next piece was Enescu’s “Sonata No.3 for Violin and Piano in A minor”. As Brauss’ fingers danced along the piano and Wildschut enthralled the audience in a flurry of unravelling bow hairs, the Romanian folk melodies built up in a swirling whirlwind of rhythms and arrived at a terrific and thunderous finale.
Following a lengthy, well-deserved applause, the duo then performed a delightful encore of Paul Schoenfield’s “Tin Pan Alley”.
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