Baiba and Lauma Skride at Corrigan Hall, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, on 10 June 2015
Tonight acclaimed Latvian violinist Baiba Skride is joined by her pianist sister Lauma Skride (possibly making her Irish debut) for a Nordic-themed chamber music programme, marking the 150th anniversaries of both Nielsen and Sibelius. Familiar to Irish audiences through her appearances with the RTÉ National Symphony and Ulster Orchestras, and the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Baiba Skride’s reputation continues to grow internationally, so it is a special privilege to hear her perform in the comparatively intimate (and plush) surroundings of the RCPI Hall.
From the very opening phrase, the violin’s notes gently floating upwards as if sung rather than played, it was clear that this evening would easily live up to its promise. The two sisters form an excellent partnership, keenly balanced and richly expressive, and there is much to enjoy in their performances together. Each half of the recital seems to have an organic logic of its own, the melodic Stenhammar Sonata a ruggedly Romantic prelude to Nielsen’s modernism, while the contrasts of Sibelius’ Four Pieces prove an apt foil to the bold, folk-inspired drama of Grieg’s Sonata.
The intensity of Nielsen’s Sonata in G minor brings out stunning playing from both artists, as they fearlessly delve into this engrossing work. The changes of mood in Sibelius’ Four Pieces are reflected in characterful performances, Baiba’s tone easily shifting from gentle transparency to bold rhapsodism. Grieg’s Sonata in G, from its very opening – that exquisite, quicksilver entry for the violin against the meditative chords of the piano – is charged with energy and brings the programme to a boldly brilliant finale. After sustained applause, the audience is rewarded with another Sibelius piece (unnamed) as an encore. A recital to savour.
Wilhelm Stenhammar: Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 19
Carl Nielsen: Violin Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 35
Jean Sibelius: Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 78
Edvard Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major, Op. 13