The power that violinist Midori bestowed on her performance at the Strathmore Music Center on Sunday was mostly evident in her body English. The remoteness of the hall's acoustics pretty well neutralized the muscular side of her artistry, but what did come across with wonderful clarity was the delicacy of her playing and that was almost enough.
She and her splendid collaborator, pianist Charles Abramovic, appearing under the auspices of the Washington Performing Arts Society, put together a program of Mozart, Prokofiev, Schoenberg and Beethoven that was authoritative, beautifully articulated and performed with exquisite ensemble. The Mozart Sonata in A, K 305, danced with a lyrical grace. The fragile textures of the Schoenberg "Phantasy for Violin and Piano" needed just the kind of balance and touch they got. And the concluding Beethoven, the C Minor Sonata, Op. 30, No. 2, read with restraint but also with a great sense of momentum, was as satisfying as Beethoven, with his occasional roars muted, could be.
The evening's high point, however, was the Prokofiev F Minor Sonata No. 1. Everything about the performance seemed right. The piano's passacaglia-like role in the first movement, quiet but insistent, seemed to grow in inevitability while the violin, in its wild runs, seemed to become increasingly insubstantial. The lyricism of the second movement and the almost Debussy-like harmonies and textures of the third were delivered with conviction while the understated ending of the finale, that simply stopped, could not have been more dramatic.
-- Joan Reinthaler