Sublime would not be too strong a word to describe the partnership between violinist James Buswell and pianist James Tocco at the Library of Congress last night. The pleasure and stimulus each derived from the performance of the other set off a spiral of challenges between the two, rewarding the listener with some of the most inspired music making heard in these parts in recent times.
With complete confidence in each other's taste and ability, Buswell and Tocco allowed themselves to reach for the outer limits of expressive possibilities. By the time they came to the final Strauss sonata, they were almost daring each other to achieve the impossible, Buswell would toss off a phrase of rippling grace and Tocco would answer with one even lighter and more effortless. Tocco would launch into a passionate phrase with an almost reckless abandon and Buswell would push the intensity even further. So it went to the evening's end as the two kept the listener wondering whether the music would get out of control or logic would be lost. That never happened, but the sense that it might put a dazzling edge on every note.
The program included an inventive, appealing sonata by the American composer John Corigliano, who was present at the concert.