Eugenia and Pinchas Zukerman opened their recital at Wolf trap yesterday with playing as light and bright as the afternoon sunshine. In addition to the peerless Samuel Sanders at the piano, choruses of birds accompanied the two soloists, taking particular delight in trilling along with Telemann.
Wolf Trap's large open expanse may not be the ideal setting for chamber music, but it has its charms on a breezy summer day. Foremost among these yesterday were the rippling agility and effortless ensemble style of the Zukermans. In rapid passages of thirds and sixths, their pharsing was always impeccably clear -- together down to the millisecond.
Having noted some of the rare qualities of these two performers together, one must add that yesterday's recital was representative. They do not seem to bring out the best in each other expressively.
As demonstrated in several virtuoso works for flute and piano alone, Eugenia Zukerman's playing is a model of delicacy and balance; Pinchas Zukerman's style, on the other hand, leans much more toward the expansive and the dramatic, as a moving performance of Brahms' second sonata for violin and piano made clear.
When playing together, they compromised on an approach which, despite graceful perfection, sometimes lacked emotional weight. Their most successful partnership was in the closing lighthearted Doppler andante and rondo, where both relaxed and enjoyed a good romp.
With unerring sensitivity, pianist Sanders supplied just the emotional and structural foundation each soloist needed.