Two and a half stars
Indiana History Center; March 11
In a substitution made early enough to incorporate into their program booklets, 1998 bronze medalist Ju-Young Baek took 2002 gold medalist Barnabás Kelemen’s place in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis’ fourth Laureate Chamber concert of the season last Tuesday. The first half consisted of two violin sonatas, the first by Leos Janáçek (his only one) and the second the Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 100 of Brahms. Accompanied by pianist Akira Eguchi, a standout who’s had that role in the last three IVCI competitions, Baek played each with well-honed expressiveness and the Brahms with all its lyric beauty intact. After the break, we were assaulted with two display pieces by Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) and a strictly show-off one by violin virtuoso Heinrich Ernst (1814-1865): Variations on “The Last Rose of Summer” for solo violin. Replete with left-hand pizzicato and much harmonic bowing, it made a hash of an otherwise lovely Irish air. Baek’s redemption then took place with a violin/piano arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise. Finally, we heard Paganini’s “Moses” Variations on a G string, in which Baek indeed played the work only on her G string — the lowest of the violin’s four — tuned up a minor third to B-flat. Baek’s best playing was heard in her encore, Pablo Sarasate’s Introduction and Tarantella.