Tetzlaff and Vogt open Miami chamber season in brilliant style

October 26, 2019
By Lawrence Budmen
Violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt performed a program for Friends of Chamber Music Thursday night at FIU Wertheim Performing Arts Center.

Some artists are reliable exponents of a limited, specialist repertoire. Others are musicians of astonishing range who probe beneath the notes of the most familiar works to find subtleties that are obscured in less exacting performances. 

Violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt belong to that elite group. Both acclaimed soloists in their own right, Tetzlaff and Vogt joined forces in a varied and generous program to open the season for Friends of Chamber Music of Miami on Thursday night in the Wertheim Performing Arts Center at Florida International University.

The Violin Sonata No. 6 in A Major is not one of Beethoven’s most frequently programmed scores but its refined classicism proved a splendid showcase for the duo’s aristocratic sense of line and pulse. In the first movement, Tetzlaff was duly attentive to Beethoven’s curves and surprising melodic turns. Vogt’s light touch yet offered power and strength when needed. 

The players’ clarity of detail was striking. In the Adagio molto espressivo, Tetzlaff and Vogt’s relaxed tempo captured the music’s Mozartean ethos while giving full weight to Beethoven’s darker modulations. Tetzlaff’s incisive and vivacious shaping of the main theme of the final movement set the tone for the variations that followed. Eachwas distinctively etched—by turns playful, magisterial, elegant and wistful with tragic undertones. Tetzlaff and Vogt’s strong collaborative skills brought out Beethoven’s shifting patterns of light and sudden shadows.

Written in 1968, the Violin Sonata in G Major by Dmitri Shostakovich is typical of that 20th century master’s late works – somber, brooding, a song of agony. Two slow movements surround an unhinged Allegretto. 

Tetzlaff and Vogt spun the darkness of the opening Andante with richness of sonority and consummate musicianship, making every note compelling. They skillfully delineated the propulsion of the second movement’s sinister dance macabre. 

Shostakovich’s keyboard writing is every bit as technically demanding as the violin part and Vogt navigated that minefield with virtuosic gymnastics of the most dazzling variety. Tetzlaff cut to the heart of the final movement’s searing bursts of dissonance in playing that had raw impact; his repeated plucked figures and final tremolos were chilling. From varying degrees of softness to thrusts of almost symphonic velocity, every nuance of Shostakovich’s distinctive musical persona was explored.

Following intermission, György Kurtág’s Tre Pezzi offered some brief eerie music that was perfect for Halloween. The opening ominous piano chords and tricky hand crossings were superbly assayed by Vogt. 

Without pause, the players preceded into Franck’s familiar Violin Sonata in A Major. Tetzlaff played the initial melody with unsweetened directness and surging momentum. Vogt drew suavely crystalline tone from the fine Steinway. Throughout the performance, the duo revitalized one of the most overplayed warhorses in the repertoire.

Tetzlaff brought an angular edge to second movement Allegro, infusing fresh life into Franck’s tempest tossed pages. There was sweep and forward thrust in the Recitativo-Fantasia with Tetzlaff’s glowing tonal sheen managing to avoid bathos. The famous melody of the final movement was stated with grace and welcome restraint. Tetzlaff’s lightness of bow strokes and both players’ beautifully blended timbres fully delineated the urgency and joy of the sonata’s climatic moments.

The audience was immediately on its feet with profusely cheers and bravos. For an encore, Tetzlaff and Voight played the third movement of Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor. The burnished mahogany of Tetzlaff’s palette and Vogt’s deft articulation fully conveyed the restless energy and wit of Brahms’ romantic vignette.

The FIU Wertheim Auditorium on the school’s southwest Miami-Dade campus is the new home for most of Friends of Chamber Music’s concerts this season. The hall’s clear sight lines and transparent acoustics were a fine platform for Tetzlaff and Vogt’s outstanding music making, boding well for future concerts. 

Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt repeat the program 3 p.m. Sunday at Symphony Center in Chicago. cso.org

Friends of Chamber Music and the FIU Music Festival present the ZEN Trio playing Schubert’s Notturno in E-flat Major, Arno Babajanian’s Piano Trio in F-sharp minor and Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor  8 p.m. October 30 at the FIU Wertheim Performing Arts Center in Miami.  miamichambermusic.org

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