With fierce concentration and passionate musicianship, violinist Shlomo Mintz and pianist Yefim Bronfman dazzled their audience at the Library of Congress Friday night. Working their way through sonatas by Prokofiev, Ravel and Bloch, these two young artists displayed the formidable gifts that have made them major new forces within the music world.
Their paths have been remarkably similar. Both emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel and thence to Julliard. Now in their early 20s, both began concertizing early -- Mintz's solo career got a special boost when he subbed for an ailing Itzhak Perlman several years ago -- and have received encouragement from such figures as Zubin Mehta and Isaac Stern.
Their musical partnership seems ideal. They respond to one another with an intuitive quickness and translate shared insights into a unity of approach that sometimes almost defies the individual nature of their respective instruments. Mintz's warm and glowing tone, particularly evident in the long lines of the Prokofiev, was answered by an equally liquid sound from Bronfman. A sudden jazzy fillip from Bronfman in the Ravel was impudently returned by Mintz on the violin. Their sensuous unfolding of the Prokoviev Andante movement, their rhythmic elegance in the Ravel and their inner probing of the Bloch slower section were particular pleasures in an evening that included many.