Anthony Marwood and Aleksandar Madžar
The beauty of Beethoven, without any fist-thumping
Graham Strahle, The Australian
November 05, 2012
The first thing one notices when British violinist Anthony Marwood and Serbian pianist Aleksandar Madzar stride on to the stage is how similar they are. Tall, lean and lanky, they could almost be mistaken for each other.
But when Marwood strikes up the first noble chords of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No 9 in A major, Kreutzer, Op 47, and Madzar answers with equal poise, one begins to appreciate what this acclaimed duo is all about. Their interpretation avoids all indulgence and inhabits a world where music and thought seem to co-exist, and the result is an uncommonly delicate Kreutzer distinguished by utmost purity, sensitivity and great thoughtfulness.
Casting aside as fiction the fist-thumping, angry artist image of Beethoven, they revealed the Kreutzer Sonata in all its perfectly architected beauty. The fact is that Beethoven approached the violin as the sweetest of instruments, as all his works for solo violin bear witness, so gruffness or power for its own sake really has no place in proceedings.
There was no hectic note chasing in the Adagio sostenuto – Presto first movement but rather an air of easy grace, warmth and amiability. Marwood’s bow strokes had a distinctive taper, resulting in an overall lightness and a less buttery legato style than many other violinists, but in so doing he was able to match Madzar’s sonorities on the piano and form a wonderfully intimate union between the instruments.
They took the second movement’s theme and variations on the quick side, lending this movement a leanness and youthfulness that contrasted with the weighty tendentiousness with which it is so often played. Off-beats were elegant rather than boorish, and its trails of trills in the piano delightfully effervescent.
Just when one had become entranced by all this delicacy, Madzar leapt into the Presto finale with a pounding fortissimo chord and Marwood let fly with a furious scurry of quavers in the violin. So their playing possessed virility, too but at no time at the expense of neatness or scale.
Gordon Kerry’s Martian Snow (2008), Debussy’s Violin Sonata in G minor, and Schubert’s Fantasie in C major all benefited from the same approach.