DAVID PARK, VIOLIN, Dumke Recital Hall, University of Utah, Sunday
The six sonatas and partitas for solo violin that J.S. Bach wrote test the mettle of any violinist. One's technique and musicianship must be of the highest order to give these masterworks their due. And a violinist of David Park's caliber certainly passes the test with flying colors. Park has in the past shown he can do full justice to these works, and Sunday he once again proved that he is a consummate violinist.
The Utah Symphony's assistant concertmaster for the past dozen years, Park gave a recital Sunday evening as part of the University of Utah's Sundays @ 7 concert series. And he began his program with Bach's solo Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001.
The G minor Sonata opens with an exquisite Adagio that shimmers with florid ornamentations and lush harmonies. Park gave a wonderfully expressive reading of this movement that was refined and very polished. His seamless playing underscored the long phrases and delicate lyricism immaculately.
A fugue of striking boldness follows. Park dove into the music with gusto. His playing was uncompromising for its directness and decisiveness, yet at the same time it was expressive and, somewhat surprisingly given Park's forcefulness, lyrical.
In the third movement, Siciliano, Park captured the richness of the musical texture wonderfully. His playing was again captivatingly expressive and fluid.
Park's approach to the final Presto was almost aggressive. The tempo was furiously fast and relentless in its drive and energy. As with the fugue, this might not be everyone's ideal interpretation, but Park has the technique and musicality to pull it off convincingly. In his hands, it became a fabulously virtuosic showpiece.
Pianist Larry Gee accompanied Park in the next work, Brahms' Sonata No. 1 in G major, op. 78. One of the composer's most thoroughly lyrical chamber pieces, it's almost completely devoid of the unbridled passion and intense emotional drive of most of his other works. In this sonata, Brahms explores the lyrical relationship between the violin and the piano and in particular the expressive side of the violin.
The duo gave a wonderfully lyrical reading that was both quite eloquent and very polished. Their playing was also nuanced in expression and dynamics. Park especially didn't miss anything in terms of bringing out the mellifluous character of the music. The Adagio was especially captivating. Park's interpretation cast a mood of reverie over the music that was exquisite.
After a brief intermission, Park and Gee returned for the final work on the program, Beethoven's massive "Kreutzer" Sonata, op. 47. Huge in scope and musical substance, the "Kreutzer" is rather symphonic in its breadth, and Park and Gee brought that out compellingly with their performance.
The Presto outer movements were both bold and played rather aggressively, so much so that it was almost overwhelming. The middle movement set of variations, on the other hand, was played with delicately phrased lines and was beautifully nuanced, which allowed both to capture the subtleties of the music effortlessly.
There were also two encores: Wieniawski's showpiece Polonaise and the "Meditation" from Massenet's opera "Thais."