La Scena Musicale

Friday, 26 February 2010

Chang and von Oeyen: A Musical Union

By L.H. Tiffany Hsieh

It was hot at Markham Theatre on Wednesday night, when violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Andrew von Oeyen fed a full house of hungry audience with something temperamental, something serene, and something romantic.

The instrumental duo’s evident chemistry was a powerhouse in Brahms’s Sonatensatz and Sonata No. 3 in D minor. Chang, at times aggressive but never forceful, was sensitive to the expressive details. Along with von Oeyen’s vibrant and solid playing, the pair produced urgency and drama through the stormy passages.

Opening the second half of the program was American composer Christopher Theofanidis’ Fantasy for violin and piano. The Fantasy is a transcription of the second movement of his Violin Concerto, written for Chang and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2008. It is a gentle, lullaby-like piece with clear lines and a melody that is almost too simple. Chang and von Oeyen sounded pure and effortless here. The audience held their breath from the first note to the last.

The finale piece on the program is Franck’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. In this truly collaborative piece, which neither the violin nor the piano dominates, Chang and von Oeyen were a musical union through hushed moments, sweet canons, or sparkling climaxes. Even though the acoustics was a bit stifled at Markham Theatre for this chamber recital, Chang delivered her signature big, luscious sound, and it was matched perfectly by von Oeyen’s deep and full-range tone on the piano.

Chang and von Oeyen gave one encore, playing Edward Elgar’s Salut d’amour. I would’ve liked a more adventurous mix of the program, but this partnership is worth listening to no matter the music.

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