IVCI Laureate Series – Kyoko Takezawa 

4 stars – Indiana History Center; June 8. The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis couldn't have rounded off its current laureate series season any better than Tuesday night — and just in time for its staff to do the yeoman's work of launching this September's eighth quadrennial competition. Kyoko Takezawa, the competition's 1986 gold medalist, showed her greater maturity since that year with truly exciting violin playing. Her piano accompanist and fellow Japanese countryman, Akira Eguchi, provided equally polished pianism, the he and she blending together like hand-in-glove. The duo offered five selections, ranging from Mendelssohn to Piazzolla. Perhaps their most interesting piece was by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), who wrote only one sonata each for varying instrument combinations—this one of course being Sonata for Violin and Piano (1943). It's an uncharacteristically tragic work, but only at the end, where the players depict gunshots . . . and death. Prior to that Takezawa gave us all of Poulenc's saucy mannerisms with deft dynamic control, a characteristic she showed in 1986 with the Bartók Concerto, which, to my mind, gave her the gold medal. For a rather small person, she makes a big violin sound with a well controlled vibrato seldom straying off pitch. She showed these traits as well in the Mendelssohn Violin Sonata in F of 1838, the last of his four in that genre and a piece somewhat skirting the standard repertoire. Then came the much better known Brahms Violin Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 100, with its opening allusion to a theme from Wagner's earlier written Die Meistersinger. After the Poulenc, Takezawa gave us all the lyric beauty contained in Wieniawski's Légende, Op. 17 while Eguchi supported with luscious open-interval rocking figures. Finally we had Grand Tango from that Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla. And now, bring on the Competition . . .

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