Like any other fiddler, Pinchas Zukerman calls for an "A" to tune his violin and, like an ordinary human being, he puts on glasses to read music. But the transcendent sounds coming from his instrument Saturday night at the Kennedy Center made one scan his genial countenance for visible signs of the divine.
His performance of Brahms' G-major Sonata with pianist Marc Neikrug came as close as music can to perfect communication -- that is to say, it moved totally into the realm of the inexpressible, voicing emotions for which there is no name. In language as continuously and subtely varied as human speech, Zukerman revealed the tender secrets of this most intimate of Brahms' sonatas, leaving the listener to wonder how small black notes upon a page could be so charged with meaning. The imprint left upon the heart long after the sounds had vanished merely underscored the mystery.
Zukerman opened the all-Brahms recital with a spirited romp through the composer's first surviving chamber work, the Scherzo of 1853, and closed with a thoughtful interpretation of one of his last pieces, the F-minor Sonata, Op. 120, for viola and piano. Pianist Neikrug's luminous intelligence and finely modulated style made him an ideal partner in the evening's explorations.