Prunaru-Chen conclude IVCI Laureate Series 

click to enlarge IVCI 1998 silver medalist Liviu Prunaru
  • IVCI 1998 silver medalist Liviu Prunaru

A violin-piano recital is made to order for the IHC's Basile Theater. Its dry acoustics thrust those duo timbres into every corner of the hall with all their textures audible and keen. Romanian Liviu Prunaru, who came in second behind Judith Ingolffson in the '98 competition, has done nothing since but ripen his musicality and improve his tonal control.

If Tuesday's program were any indication, Prunaru could be hailed as a Romantic violinist in the grand tradition of Hoosier-born Aaron Rosand--now in retirement at 86. Prunaru's tonal opulence sometimes overshadowed pianist Chih-Yi Chen, who otherwise showed a first-class partnership with him, as she has throughout the season.

A program of works by Bedrich Smetana (1824-1888), Johan Svendsen (1840-1911), Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), César Franck (1822-1890) and Jenö Hubay (1858-1937) suggests an easy time of it for the attending recital patrons: accessible music into which is buried a plethora of tunes, starting with the Andantino from Smetana's From My Homeland, Op. 128. This was written as an appendage to Smetana's orchestral six-tone-poem cycle My Fatherland, both homages to his native Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).

Svendsen's short Romance in G, Op. 26, followed, with its own signature tune. To close the first half, we heard Grieg's under appreciated Violin Sonata No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 45, with its outer movements stormy and impassioned. Following the break came the evening's highlight and the only repertoire standard, Franck's definitely not under appreciated Violin Sonata in A, with some ascribing it to being his greatest work. Almost as a programmed/printed encore, the duo closed with the short Hejre Kati (Hello Katie), Op. 32, of Hubay. It was made familiar with one of its tunes previously used by Brahms in a Hungarian Dance.

Prunaru exhibited good tonal control throughout the recital, with a few exceptions, as in the middle movement of the Grieg, where his singing lines occasionally crossed the excessive-opulence threshold (revealing adjacent pitches). Otherwise his bowing was unabashedly rich and dominant throughout. It fit this program to a tea. June 4; Indiana History Center

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