The Handel Festival Orchestra Recitalist Series presented violinists Lily Kramer and Keith Howard in a modest yet varied program at the Corcoran Gallery of Art Saturday night. Despite the series' name, the evening included no Handel.
Four non-Handel works ranging from the 18th century to the 20th were played instead.
Tartini's Sonata in D Major, with its trumpet-like violin parts in the foreground and an intriguingly subtle piano part played by Elwin Garrett, quickly displayed the desire for precision present in all of the pieces performed. At times this exactness came in the form of cautiousness, which tended to slow tempos a bit and made a Beethoven sonata (Op.96) seem to last an eternity.
The most musical interpretation of the evening was that of Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano, performed by Kramer and Garrett. They began to abandon timidity in the course of this rendition, while Kramer's long and graceful bow strokes contributed to a full sound.
The featured violinists also appeared on stage for the final piece, which was by Sergei Prokofiev. The Sonata for Two Violins, written in 1932, is a ponderous composition, similiar in many ways to Prokofiev's two-part inventions for piano. Both players did an admirable job capturing the spirit of solitude contrasted with emotional outbursts, especially in the frenetic Allegro con brio.