Review: Maxim Rysanov at City Hall
Rysanov had two HK engagements in three days, but his tone and interpretation have rare value
Maxim Rysanov in recital
City Hall Concert Hall
Maxim Rysanov is one of today's leading violists and his recital on Thursday was not only immensely enjoyable but part of a collaborative experiment.
Organisations booking artists of his stature are expected to enforce exclusivity, with a soloist refraining from appearing twice in the same locality to avoid diluting ticket sales. Premiere Performances of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta flouted that convention by joining hands to present the Ukrainian musician first in recital and then in a concerto appearance two days later.
The healthy audience at the former suggested the initiative had been a good idea.
The viola has an image problem: its lower range can sound like a teenager's voice that has not quite broken, with the upper akin to a shirt that's bursting its buttons. The combined capabilities of Rysanov and his 1780 Guadagnini instrument, however, produced qualities of tone and interpretation that are not often heard.
The viola's repertoire is relatively limited, so it was unsurprising to find the programme including arrangements of popular quickies such as Debussy's Claire de Lune and Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte. Ear candy, however, would be the last way to describe Rysanov's beautifully poised delivery of these exquisite reworkings that gave the originals a completely new dimension.
He was partnered by pianist Jacob Katsnelson, whose impeccably judged tone and balance in Martinu's Sonata for Viola and Piano moulded the work into a skilfully sustained and even-handed duologue. Rysanov's big sound was a splendid vehicle both here and in the scherzo from Brahms' F.A.E. Sonata.
Richard Dubugnon's Incantatio was performed in a reworking by the composer of his original version for cello and piano. It occupies a haunting sound-world, rich with harmonic twists and flights of imagination. It also contains a swathe of technical challenges, both in the execution of notes and manipulation of sound, which Rysanov dispatched with jaw-dropping aplomb.
He opened the programme with an arrangement of J. S. Bach's Suite No3 for unaccompanied cello. The Sarabande was so elegantly sculpted that, unfortunately, it cast all the other movements into a rather unimaginative shadow.