Salvatore Accardo doesn't let showmanship get in the way of his music. The violinist is above all serious--winning audiences over, slowly but irresistibly, through musical persuasion.
There was just such a snowball effect yesterday in the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall, where Accardo and pianist Luis Batlle presented a program of four sonatas from classical to modern.
After a rather stiff start with Mozart's Sonata in F Major, K. 376--a performance marked more by stalwart fullness of playing than playfulness from Accardo, and colorless consistency from Batlle--the twosome thawed considerably for Brahms' stately and ruminative Sonata in G Major, Op. 78.
Coaxing a subtly shaded, warm tone from his Guarnerius del Gesu fiddle, Accardo made the most of Brahms' lovely, wistful melodies; Batlle's piano playing, though at times overpowering, was skillful and sensitive.
After intermission, the momentum continued to gather with Prokofiev's majestic Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80, Accardo and Batlle now sounding completely in their element. Accardo gave this work--a bow-breaker in some places, a dreamy wander in others--the vibrancy and brilliance it deserves, while Batlle supplied deft contrast.
With hardly a rest from this demanding work, they rolled head over heels into Ravel's dazzling Sonata for Violin and Piano--the only piece on the program that truly could be called a crowd-pleaser. The second movement is marked "Moderato (Blues)," and Accardo caught its jazzy spirit.
Through it all, with the applause for each piece acquiring more and more thunder, the violinist betrayed not a whit of flamboyance; he relied instead on deeply felt, thoughtful interpretations and unimpeachable mastery of his instrument.