Review 'Klassiek Centraal' - 22 March 2016
Nomination 'Gold Label' - Violinist Jolente De Maeyer and pianist Nikolaas Kende evoke fire, passion, struggle and intimacy with their CD 'Kreutzer sonata'. After touring in a production based on Tolstoy's version ' The Kreutzer sonata', they decided to record the music they selected on a disc. And what a disc it became!
'Passion' is the subject of the works De Maeyer and Kende chose for this recording. De CD opens with Beethoven's Kreutzer sonata for violin and piano, which was reviewed by a critic in Beethoven's time as 'artistic terrorism'. Kende and De Maeyer seem to concur with Leo Tolstoy's interpretation of passion, jealousy and intimacy. From the start the listener is a witness of a discussion between piano and violin. De Maeyer opens delicately followed by Kende, embracing the violinist with a palette of dark harmonies. A quest for freedom by the violinist and a search for dominance by the pianist develops in the presto. Feelings of love seem to be more and more oppressed by a sensation of fear. The movement is full of tension and suspicion, but also evokes a perpetuate longing feeling.
The contrast with the second movement of this sonata by Beethoven is large: a simple theme followed by four variations. De Maeyer and Kende exchange the drama for playful flirting. Both violinist and pianist take great care of the articulation and dialogue. In the third variation they put more emphasis on color. The pianist and violinist have a serene dialogue with beautifully spun melodies in the violin.
The third movement is a playful tarantella. De Maeyer and Kende choose also this time for a theatrical approach. The music doesn't allow for severe drama here, but flirtation between the violinist and pianist is almost continuously present. Virtuosic pleasantries for both piano and violin make us almost forget the heavy melancholy of the first movement.
Fratres by Arvo Pärt sounds almost meditative. This work, with its simple coherence but rich harmonies, creates an ethereal atmosphere. Written originally for strings and percussion, De Maeyer and Kende play Pärt's own version for violin and piano. The parts for violin and piano are both virtuosic and De Maeyer and Kende manage to find a good balance not to break this ethereal feeling.
De Maeyer and Kende choose to wrap up this CD with a selection of the 24 preludes by Dimitry Shostakovich, 19 of which were transcribed by Dmitry Tsyganov for violin and piano. Kende and De Maeyer bring 6 of these playful miniatures. They know well how to masterfully bring out the character of each of these small works. Especially the ultra short Prelude n. 15 in D flat major is outstanding. The pianist and violinist both play their parts very decisively. The work starts in medias res and builds up gradually to an abundant climax, just to come to an end as abruptly as it started.
Jolente De Maeyer and Nikolaas Kende choose resolutely for a theatrical approach. They don't want to tell 'a story', but 'their story'. This leads them sometimes to very personal choices of interpretation, but never too extreme. The fact that they also have extremely strong technical skills, makes it éven better.
De Maeyer and Kende created an exceptional recording with 'Kreutzer sonata'.