Kitzbühel, an idyllic village in the Austrian Alps, is rather known for its world cup ski races and its mundane lifestyle. It is not necessarily the place you would expect a superbly curated chamber concert series. However, Austrian pianist Erwin Kropfitsch, Artistic Director of the Steinway Salon at the Kitzbühel Country Club, was able – already for the second season – to engage a remarkable line-up of internationally acclaimed artists for concerts in the intimate, almost private setting of the Steinway Salon at the posh Kitzbühel Country Club.
The first concert of the “soloist series” in Kitzbühel/Tyrol was dedicated to British/Dutch violinist Daniel Rowland and Ukrainian pianist Natacha Kudritskaya. The charismatic duo opened their recital at the Steinway Salon with Claude Debussy’s Beau Soir. And indeed, it was the beginning of a very beautiful evening.
One of Rowland’s main teachers was Ivry Gitlis. Gitlis in turn was a student of the Romanian violinist-composer George Enescu. It therefore was particularly exciting to hear Enescu’s rarely performed Second Violin Sonata played by one of his artistic “grandchildren”. Enescu, a child prodigy in so many aspects, was barely 18 years old when he completed this sonata. A stunning work of intellectual and emotional maturity, Enescu considered it the first of his compositions showing his very own voice. Rowland and Kudritskaya demonstrated their unique musical partnership impressively, and their well-balanced interplay was not only beautiful to listen to but also exciting to watch. Natacha Kudritskaya, with her incredibly rich palette of pianistic colors perfectly matched Daniel Rowland’s expressive playing, supporting and enhancing it in a congenial way.
Enescu’s lesser known musical gem was followed by one of the staples of the violin literature: César Franck’sSonata in A Major. Innovative in its recurring themes, Franck’s Sonata is an intensely dramatic piece, with the violin seemingly wanting to settle for a more lyric mood but being relentlessly spurred to more intensity by the dramatic piano part. Both artists, although highly virtuosic, never fell for vain showmanship. Their playing always stayed refined and dedicated to content and expression.
The only downside – if there was any – was the difficult acoustics of the hall. At times, especially in forte outbreaks, Rowland’s beautiful Storioni violin wasn’t able to unfold its full potential.
After the Heifetz arrangement of “Bess you is my woman now”, Daniel Rowland and Natacha Kudritskaya ended this springtime “Beau Soir” in Kitzbühel with Gershwin’s “Summertime”. And if our own Summertime is as inspired, intense and moving as their performance, we can look forward to a great, memorable summer this year!
Un Très Beau Soir
Kitzbühel Country Club (Steinway Salon)
Claude Debussy: Beau Soir
George Enescu: Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano, op. 6
César Franck: Sonata in A Major for violin and piano
George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess: “Bess you is my woman now” & “Summertime” (arr. Jascha Heifetz)
Daniel Rowland (violin), Natacha Kudritskaya (piano)