From the opening phrase of Brahms’ 3rd Violin Sonata, IIya Konovalov impressed with a violin tone that was exquisite. The lyrical opening was mellow but rich with nuance. As the sonata progressed Kathryn Selby emerged as equal partner in this musical collaboration and I was particularly impressed by her lightness of touch whilst maintaining the energy of the main theme in the third movement.
The second programmed piece, Peter Sculthorpe’s Alone for violin solo, was substituted with a Mozart violin sonata. Konovalov explained he was suffering from a cold and the Sculthorpe piece requires the performer to whistle or hum whilst playing. Whilst the Mozart sonata again showed such delicate and refined playing, I felt it was a conservative and safe choice in a recital that would have benefitted from the inclusion of a more contemporary piece.
Two Tchaikovsky pieces, the Valse-Scherzo and Mélodie in E-flat from Souvenir d’un lieu cher, concluded the first half of the program. The Valse-Scherzo seemed to be the audience favourite with breath taking virtuosic bowing and double stopping. The Mélodie provided an interesting experience. From my seat in the middle of the venue Konovalov seemed to be barely moving, his face cloaked in shadow from poor stage lighting. An understated stage presence, yet his sound and the beauty of the musical line was undeniable.
Beethoven’s much loved Sonata in A major, “Kreutzer” provided the perfect opportunity for Konovala and Selby to show exactly what they are musically capable of. Refreshed after the interval there was intensity in the performance and the very best ensemble playing of the evening was given. Kathryn Selby again demonstrated what an insightful pianist she is. Returning, after the Tchaikovsky, as an equal musical partner in the work she showed everything from humour to drama and suspense. A mighty work that both performers clearly enjoyed.
The large audience were extremely appreciative. Kreisler’s Small Viennese March was given as the first encore. Still they wanted more, and what better way to send an audience home humming than with Elgar’s Salute d’Amore.
Ilya Konovalov (violin) and Kathryn Selby (piano)
Deakin Edge, Federation Square Melbourne, September 25th.
The other concerts in this tour:
- 26 Sep, 7pm, City Recital Hall, Sydney
- 29 Sep, 2:30pm, Elder Hall, University of Adelaide
- 27 Oct, 2pm, Turramurra Uniting Church
- 28 Oct, 7:30pm, Fairfax Theatre – National Gallery of Australia
- 29 Oct, 7pm, City Recital Hall, Sydney