Violinist Benjamin Beilman - a worthy substitute

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Ricordanza
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Violinist Benjamin Beilman - a worthy substitute

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:28 pm

I was looking forward to Christian Tetzlaff’s violin recital scheduled for Friday evening, April 8. Not only was I anxious to hear this acclaimed musician, but I was intrigued by his unusual and daring program—all unaccompanied violin works. But a week before the program, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society sent out an email announcing that, due to the impending early birth of Tetzlaff’s child, violinist Benjamin Beilman, along with pianist Andrew Tyson, would perform in his place. The substitute program, works by Mozart and Janacek, looked less interesting, but with an open mind, I was there for the recital.

The change in artist and program yielded two benefits: the first opportunity to hear this highly regarded 26-year-old Curtis graduate in recital, and my first chance to hear a distinctive and gorgeous work, Leos Janacek’s Sonata for Violin and Piano.

Janacek’s Sonata—written in 1914 and revised in 1921—is a four-movement work that sounds unlike any other composer. It strays from conventional tonality and harmony and structure, but not that far. With its folk touches, appealing melodies, and intricate interplay between violin and piano, it is a work that instantly engages the first-time listener. Beilman and Tyson performed the work with great passion as well as subtlety.

Another Janacek piece appeared after intermission. Entitled Dumka, it was written much earlier than the Sonata. I’ve seen the term Dumka defined as a sort of Slavic Blues, and that description fits this work. It’s considerably shorter and less distinctive than the Sonata, but nonetheless enjoyable.

The recital began and ended with Mozart. First, two rather early Sonatas, in G Major, K. 301, and in E Minor, K. 304. Both are two-movement works. To these ears, the E Minor was the more memorable of the two but I will admit that, in general, Mozart’s relatively rare excursions in minor keys tend to be my favorites among his works. At times in the first Sonata, Tyson’s piano overwhelmed Beilman’s golden but less than penetrating tone. I noted that the piano lid was all the way up, which seemed unnecessary for a violin and piano recital and especially unnecessary in the intimate setting of the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center. But as the evening progressed, there was a better sound balance between the two musicians and, interpretively, they were always in sync.

The program concluded with Mozart’s Sonata in A Major, K. 526. This work is more substantial in length (it’s a three-movement work) and more sophisticated in content than the earlier Sonatas. The concluding Presto movement provides a virtuosic platform for both violinist and pianist, and Beilman and Tyson delivered a brilliant performance.

John F
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Re: Violinist Benjamin Beilman - a worthy substitute

Post by John F » Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:10 am

Tetzlaff's paternity leave also affected the Brahms concert Barney attended recently. The word is that it's a girl and she's doing fine.
John Francis

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