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Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, Dvorak and Grieg

Oliver Schnyder & Rudens Turku

Wigmore Hall, 27 January 2010

Heard live, having known their work on recordings, this duo was spell binding and their concert one to treasure in memory by the supporting Albanian ex-pats and everyone else in their smallish audience.

The Germany-based, Albanian born violinist Rudens Turku has a tone which is infinitely subtle in its gradations, but, without forcing, penetrating even against (sometimes) loud piano playing. He does not attack the beginnings of notes, the music grows and flows with an uncommon naturalness. His command of his instrument is so complete, yet undemonstrative, that one quickly takes it for granted. It is very rare for a singer to be able to match that quality (and indeed, to our ears, the popular diva Joyce DiDonato signally failed to do so at Wigmore Hall the following night).

Bicentenarian Mendelssohn's early sonata languished in obscurity for more than a century until in the '50s it was championed and published by Menuhin. Oliver Schnyder, Turku's partner and equal, makes light work of Mendelssohn's multitudinous notes, a tendency which can alienate listeners to some of his chamber works; but not here, nor on their Avie recording of this sonata coupled with the violin/piano double concerto with orchestra (which many readers won't know?).

The Dvorak Sonatina (which he contrived to be his Op. 100) is one of my very favourite pieces by that endearing composer; as a schoolboy I played it in a masterclass given by Isolde Menges; that dates me! Turku & Schnyder fined it down to just the right scale and intimacy, even better in Wigmore Hall than in their recording of a couple of years ago.

Grieg's big-boned third sonata can easily sound overblown and too rhetorical, but its quality has been known since the classic Kreisler/Rachmaninoff recording, and Turku & Schnyder put it across with complete conviction, to give us a lot to talk about in the interval.

The second half was devoted to the second of Prokofiev's violin sonatas, an oddity since it is in fact Oistrakh's adaptation of the flute sonata, so well done by this duo that one was left marvelling how it could have been actually composed for the less versatile wind instrument. No doubt it will feature in a future recording; meanwhile get their Dvorak and Grieg on "Homelands".

Edvard Grieg, Sergei Rachmaninov, Antonín Dvorák, Astor Piazzolla, Pablo de Sarasate

Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45, Grieg
Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14, Rachmaninov
Sonatina in G major, Op. 100, Dvorák
Milonga en re, Piazzolla
Spanish Dances, Sarasate

Avie AV2166

Peter Grahame Woolf



Ysaye Sonata no 2 + favourites of 19 C violinists

Avie AV2223

Received April 2012 - a nice disc of encores, in which I quickly recognised Turku's individual, slightly acerbic tone (not a uniform "smooth beautiful" sound).

Well partnered by Yumiko Urabe, this will give violin fanciers as lot of undemanding pleasure