David Tobin (violin), Morgan Buckley (guitar) & Shirin Goudarzi-Tobin (piano) in the John Field Room, National Concert Hall, on 11 August 2015
The John Field Room is completely thronged with a sell-out audience for this evening’s recital. It is very much a family affair, with up-and-coming violinist David Tobin accompanied throughout the first half by his mother, the noted pianist and teacher Shirin Goudarzi-Tobin. A high-achieving graduate of the Young European Strings School and currently studying at the Cologne University of Music, David Tobin clearly likes setting challenges for himself. He does so here by opening tonight’s recital with Edvard Grieg’s demanding Sonata No. 3 in C minor.
There is much to admire in his playing (as well as that of his accompanist) of this engrossing work. While there is nothing wrong with the performance, one can’t help feeling that we’re hearing a work-in-progress, and that in time he will learn to rely less on the force and weight of his interpretation and allow this sonata to sing more freely. The intensity of his approach pays off beautifully when this is needed, but there are times when the power weighs too heavily, as if he’s trying to nail the work down. It’s possibly also the result of first-piece nerves, as the shorter – and more modern – works that follow thrive under his playing style. Lutoslawski’s Recitativo e Arioso is calm and elegant, while Enescu’s Impromptu Concertant leaps of the page brimming with energy, reflective and genial by turns. William Kroll’s playful Banjo and Fiddle – so ephemeral it’s really an encore piece – closes the first half.
The ‘Paganini to Piazzolla’ tag refers more to the material that follows, as Tobin returns to the stage with guitarist Morgan Buckley. They introduce Paganini’s early Sonata Concertata for violin and guitar, and what emerges is a charming work in Classical style, recalling the music of Boccherini. The two instruments work together very much as equal partners, though occasional moments of uncertainty suggest that their collaboration still has a little way to go. As with the first half, the sonata is followed by a string of shorter works. Two contrasting pieces by Astor Piazzolla, the reflective Tanti Anni Prima and the tango Fracanapa, are simple and engaging, to which they add the popular 1920s Tango Jealousie of Jacob Gade. Both good players, the teamwork of Tobin and Buckley makes for an engaging and entertaining duo, and hopefully they continue working together. David Tobin closes with one final showpiece, Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin and piano, which he plays with fierce, virtuoso brilliance. With talent like this, he is certainly a name to watch out for.
Edvard Grieg: Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45
Witold Lutoslawski: Recitativo e Arioso
George Enescu: Impromptu Concertant
William Kroll: Banjo and Fiddle
Niccolò Paganini: Sonata Concertata
Astor Piazzolla: Tanti Anni Prima (Ave Maria); Fracanapa
Jacob Gade: Tango Jealousie
Camille Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso