Review: Jang & Wilson

Jeanette Jang, violin
Russell Wilson, piano
Aug. 6, Dominion Energy Center

In the penultimate program of the Richmond Symphony Sumer Series’ salute to Beethoven, two of the symphony’s musicians, violinist Jeanette Jang and pianist Russell Wilson, sampled two composers at work around the turn of the 19th century – Beethoven and Schubert – echoing the past as they found their voices.

Both composers, a decade or so apart, were students of Antonio Salieri, and stylistic descendants of Mozart and Haydn. Beethoven additionally owed a debt to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the mid-18th century master of sophisticated musical structures and abrupt expressive and dynamic shifts.

Jang and Wilson opened their program with Schubert’s Sonatina in D major, D. 384, a straightforward, lightweight work by a 13-year-old composer already demonstrating the lyrical gifts he would exploit so memorably in maturity.

Wilson followed that with the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in C major, Op. 2, No. 3, often cited as the composer’s first truly virtuosic solo-piano work. The pianist brought out both the quick-fingered filagree of the movement and its robust, declarative bass lines, and sustained continuity in music that often defies linearity.

The gem of the program was Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 30, No. 3, music representing classical style in full bloom with buds of romanticism, its cheerful outer movements bracketing a slow minuet rooted in one of the composer’s most bittersweet tunes.

In that slow movement, Jang and Wilson adopted an unusually measured tempo that gave extra soulfulness to the tune and extra expressive edge to its elaborations. Their treatment of the sonata’s perpetual-motion finale was brisk, technically secure and as thoroughly collaborative as any duo could be.

Audio breakups, so pronounced in the video stream of the July 30 concert by violinist Daisuke Yamamoto and pianist Michelle Huang that the symphony posted a substitute video (see the Aug. 4 post below for the link, which is operative until the end of the month), again cropped up in this performance, but were minor by comparison.

The video stream of the recital by Jeanette Jang and Russell Wilson may be accessed through Aug. 5, and the final program of the Richmond Symphony Summer Series, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 13, are open to limited numbers of patrons in Dominion Energy Center’s Gottwald Playhouse and via online streams. Tickets: $12 per concert. Details: (804) 788-1212; (Single tickets may be purchased via links on that page.)

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