This April 2012 recital heralded Vengerov’s return to recital work after a period where an exercise injury had forced him to concentrate on conducting. Consisting of two monumental works of the repertory, Bach’s D-Minor Partita and Beethoven’s Kreutzer sonata, the program seems designed to allow the artist to re-present his credentials to the public, which he does quite convincingly.
Although structured like a suite of dances, the Partita issues the performer with enormous artistic challenges in shaping the musical material, most especially in the concluding Ciaccona. Vengerov chooses a stately and spacious approach on the whole, leaving quicksilver effects to others. (Richard Tognetti comes to mind.) I was left with the impression that in his Bach playing Venegerov is anxious to make every note count with beauty and weight of tone. Admirable though this is, the listener can lose sight of the bigger picture and the rhythmic thrust inherent in the dance-like origins of the work.
Supported by Itamar Golan’s empathetic pianism, Vengerov’s Beethoven is thoroughly irenic. The joy of performing is powerfully communicated by both players and they give this famous work a wonderful breadth of expression. The Presto finale is particularly appealing when it is delivered with the lightness of touch it is here. With the ‘serious’ part of the program concluded, two lighter encores, Wieniawski’s Scherzo-Tranatelle and Joachim’s arrangement of Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No 1 bring this enjoyable recital to a close.