Violinist David Grimal and Pianist Georges Pludermacher at Dumbarton Oaks

David Grimal wields power with restraint.
David Grimal wields power with restraint. (By J.l. Atlan)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An awful lot happened stylistically in the musical world during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. Romanticism gave way to impressionism, atonality and serialism. There was the ascendancy of jazz and folk influences. But some composers navigated their way through all this, taking what best served their musical imaginations and informed their personal language.

For their program in the elegant music room at Dumbarton Oaks on Sunday, violinist David Grimal and pianist Georges Pludermacher picked examples from four such composers: Fauré's early but forward-looking A Major Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano (1876), Janacek's 1912 "In the Mist" for solo piano, Bartók's late (1944) neobaroque Sonata for Solo Violin and Ravel's 1927 Sonata for Violin and Piano. All are works influenced but not bound by contemporary doctrine, and Grimal and Pludermacher explored them with a compelling combination of spontaneity and care, power and delicacy.

Grimal has a killer bow arm and the musical intelligence and restraint needed to use it well. He was able to dance through the staccato brilliance of the Fauré scherzo and the Ravel perpetual-motion finale without turning a hair. But he also projected sweetness in the lyricism of the Fauré first movement, whimsical humor in the blues harmonies of the middle movement of the Ravel, and a clean-cut focus as Bartók wandered from Bach's world to his own.

Pludermacher was an ideal partner in all this, a master of color and transparency and able to maintain his independence while participating in an exquisite ensemble.

The two will perform a mostly different program (the Ravel will be repeated) at the French Embassy tomorrow.

-- Joan Reinthaler

© 2009 The Washington Post Company