The focus and blazing intensity of their musicmaking is incontestable. Kopatchinskaja and Leschenko are both strong musical personalities, each with plenty to say and the technique to say it well. But together they achieve a rare ensemble cohesion, and it’s this sense of two minds and hearts in perfect accord that made their performance so exhilarating.
Both also are capable of producing, and almost revel in, ugly sounds on their instruments, though Leschenko may have had the edge here. Each piece seemed to feature at least one dedicated, largely gratuitous all-out assault on the piano.
Kopatchinskaja tends to float a musical idea in one of two ways. Either she insinuates herself around it and, by osmosis, gradually owns it, or she pounces on it, as though it were freshly delivered from its creator’s consciousness. All the while, Kopatchinskaja seems to commune with her violin, speaking to it, cajoling and consoling it.
The Bartók Second Sonata sounded at times more like a conglomeration of abstract sounds than musical discourse. Enescu’s Third Sonata, shot through with Romanian and Moldovan folk influences, is a specialty of Kopatchinskaja’s, and I doubt I’ll ever hear it more persuasively played. Ravel’s “Tzigane” was the most artistically satisfying performance in conventional terms.
If there was little room for repose or stylistic nicety, the music emerged with uncompromising integrity. When it was happening, nothing else mattered.