Hyeyoon Park/Benjamin Grosvenor review – flawless Szymanowski

Wigmore Hall/BBC Radio 3
Both violin and piano showed a vast range of colours and textures in this lunchtime recital that included Franck and a memorable Schumann encore

There is a point in the high-energy third movement (Dryads and Pan) of Szymanowski’s Mythes Op 30 for violin and piano when there’s a sudden change of gear: the piece’s manic prancing temporarily abates and the violinist plays alone, using only harmonics. It’s one of the strangest, most haunting sounds a string instrument can make. That passage and the re-entry of the piano that follows were one of several spine-tingling moments in violinist Hyeyoon Park’s Wigmore Hall lunchtime recital with her partner and regular collaborator, pianist Benjamin Grosvenor

No empty hall could sound more still than it did as Park and Grosvenor spun Szymanowski’s gossamer musical fabric in that third movement. Such impressionistic music depends hugely on the quality of its surface and in this performance it was practically flawless. Grosvenor’s touch was astonishingly responsive – as supple in quiet, single-handed lyricism as in flurries of quicksilver virtuosity – while Park made stylish use throughout of portamento and her irrepressibly expressive vibrato.

César Franck’s Violin Sonata – the second half of the programme – was a simultaneous showcase of Park’s huge palette of tone colours and of Grosvenor’s ability to conjure clarity from the densest of textures. This is a big-boned, unabashedly Romantic work where opportunities for a lighter touch are rare. Grosvenor’s hold-your-breath pianissimos weren’t always matched by Park, but her unaccompanied passages in the recitative-fantasia movement had all the poise of solo Bach (albeit on a Parisian opium trip).

Most memorable in the end, though, was the encore. After so much impassioned virtuosity, Schumann’s Abendlied Op 85 No 12 appeared stark in its simplicity. Yet it was here that Park and Grosvenor’s musical partnership achieved its most touching intimacy.

• Available to listen on BBC Sounds and watch via Wigmore Hall Live Stream. The Wigmore Hall lunchtime series continues until 26 June.


Contributor

Flora Willson

The GuardianTramp

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