The theme of love filled Convocation Hall in more ways than one during this week’s Monday Noon Music concert. Violinist Frédéric Bednarz and pianist Natsuki Hiratsuka chose a program of violin sonatas whose central theme was love. To add to this, University of Alberta Professor of Violin, Guillaume Tardif, introduced the concert by announcing to the audience that the duo had been recently married. This personal collaboration was immediately evident in the duo’s artistic collaboration.
Beginning with César Franck’s Violin and Piano Sonata in A Major, Bednarz and Hiratsuka exuded understated elegance and deeply sensitive playing. Neither one of them upstaged the other, nor did they create artificial fireworks for the sake of entertainment. I appreciated their simplicity, demeanour and musical approach, considering that the French style is one of more reserved expressions of emotion.
The second piece was Maurice Ravel’s Violin and Piano Sonata in G Major, which Ravel wrote as part of his marriage proposal to Hélène Jourdan-Morhange (unfortunately, Mme Jourdan-Morhange refused his offer). Ravel’s piece gave Bednarz the opportunity to show why he recently joined the renowned Molinari String Quartet, with his assured technique and versatile musicality. The second movement of the Ravel was a Blues theme, and Bednarz captured the mood well.
Hiratsuka played with beautiful colours and in perfect harmony with Bednarz, but she had to deal with several piano keys that were out of tune. She managed, however, to fill the sound with love, despite the instrument’s shortcomings. The duo programmed a third piece, Fritz Kreisler’s Gypsy Caprice, but a large group of students, in which I include myself, had to leave before hearing the Kreisler, due to the length of the concert.
Logistics aside, Frédéric Bednarz and Natsuki Hiratsuka presented Monday Noon Music with a beautifully understated concert. Everyone really did feel the love.
Monday Noon Music continues throughout the 2011-2012 season. Consult the Department of Music website at www.music.ualberta.ca for more information.