by Daniel Hathaway
Arts Renaissance Tremont welcomed back an old friend, violinist Jinjoo Cho, to open its 27th season at Pilgrim United Church of Christ on Sunday, October 1. Pianist Hyun Soo Kim joined her in a well-chosen and varied two-hour program of sonatas and character pieces by Beethoven, Fauré, Chausson, Tchaikovsky, and Saint-Saëns.
Smooth transitions and flawless communication with her pianist characterized Cho’s reading of Beethoven’s Sonata in A, Op. 30, No. 1, a work that originally ended with a different movement. Beethoven had second thoughts and replaced what is now the finale to the Op. 47 “Kreutzer” sonata with a lovely theme and six variations in keeping with the calm demeanor of the earlier work.
More stormy after its ornate piano introduction was Fauré’s Sonata No. 1, also in A Major. Here, Cho and Kim made extreme dynamic contrasts in the Andante, and tossed off its skittering Scherzo — encored at the work’s premiere — with easy virtuosity.
Speaking of encores, the audience at the premiere of Chausson’s Poème demanded that the piece be repeated three times, possibly making up for the fact that its commissioner, Eugène Ysaÿe, had originally requested a concerto and got a one-movement piece instead. Rhapsodic, lyrical, and featuring the double stops for which Ysaÿe was famous, the piece gives the soloist plenty of opportunity to shine, and Cho made the most of her unaccompanied passages.
Another work on Cho’s program whose history involves a movement transplant is Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42. Its first movement, Meditation in D minor, was originally intended to be the slow movement of the composer’s Violin Concerto, but joined a Scherzo in D minor and a Mélodie in E-flat Major to make up a delightful little suite. The “dear place” refers to Barilivo (or Brailovo), the Ukrainian country estate of the composer’s benefactor, Nadezhda von Meck. Coming at this point in the afternoon, the Tchaikovsky provided a delightful entremet.
What’s a violin recital without a recognizable old warhorse? Cho’s freshly-conceived performance of Saint-Saëns’ Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso closed her program with a splendid but tasteful demonstration of her formidable technique and keen ability to connect with her audience.
Sunday’s concert was dedicated, as is the entire Arts Renaissance Tremont season, to Robert Schneider, president of the ART board of trustees, who was gravely injured in an automobile accident in Europe during the summer. Artistic director Christine Haff-Paluck announced that his family invites donations to the Robert Schneider Choral Enrichment Fund of the Shaker Schools Foundation, as a tribute to Schneider’s 26-year tenure as an educator in the Shaker Heights City Schools.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com October 3, 2017.
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