There was no thematic focus to this programme so consequently the music felt unanchored too. Mullova’s opener, an account of Prokofiev’s Sonata for solo violin in D major, was the highlight. Her agile string crossings and rhythmical attack were dramatic while her lyricism underpinned quieter moments.
Viktoria Mullova & Katia Labèque, Queen’s Hall (****)
Pairing Takemitsu’s early work Distance de Fée with Avro Pärt’s Fratres worked well. The chunky Messiaen-like piano chords and shimmering violin textures in the former complimented Pärt’s pared-down ethereal score. However, there were some rough edges in Fratres and a dullness to the composer’s trademark tintinnabulation. .
Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor is a meatier work and Labèque rose to the challenge of creating the impression of a full orchestra with the torrent of notes that back the violin melody. If anything she could have played out more to match Mullova’s tonal depth. What a difference it made when she did this in Ravel’s blues-driven Violin Sonata in G major. Here, at last, was a dialogue between the musicians, especially in the moderato and the fleet-footed finale.