Star rating: *****
Venue: Usher Hall
Accepting that this means placing him in a venue large enough to accommodate everyone who wants to hear him inevitably means compromise in a space that’s ideal for the music he performs.
Yet in violin and piano sonatas by Schubert, Beethoven and Ravel at the Usher Hall on Wednesday, Vengerov and pianist Roustem Saïtkoulov achieved an ambience of intimacy despite being two rather lonesome looking figures on a vast, symphony-sized stage. Schubert’s A major Sonata D574 had much in common with Beethoven’s Op 30 No 2.
Both gained hugely from Vengerov’s softly gentle approach, his silken tone singing out the abundance of melodic material, whether sunny and cheerful or the exquisite beauty of the slow movements. As a duo, Vengerov and Saïtkoulov are seamless, both projecting their sound with extraordinary clarity in Ravel too, the bow gliding effortlessly over the strings in its jazz inspired bluesy world.
Unsurprisingly, he finished with daredevil Paganini, but for all its show-off wizardry, the lasting impression is the humanity of Vengerov’s playing and genuine connection with his audience.