Emmanuel Bach and Jenny Stern

Concert date: 16 September 2022
Reviewed by: JRC

The opening concert of the NADSA season was given by Emmanuel Bach [violin] and Jenny Stern [piano]; and what an impressive event it was.

The well-structured programme contained interest and intrigue: how would a young violinist cope with such demands?

When Beethoven’s violin sonata No 7 was published in 1803, the opus was entitled ‘Three Sonatas for Pianoforte with Accompaniment of Violin’. Beethoven, a very accomplished pianist himself, has the piano introducing the first movement, and indeed this work was the chance for Jenny Stern to shine.

We then heard an unfamiliar work by a well-known composer: Grieg. His violin sonata No 2, which has strong folk influences, gave opportunities for mood changes from melancholic to dance.

After the interval, the programme took us into more unfamiliar territory. Previn’s Violin Sonata No 1 was, I am sure, new to most of the audience. We listened with bated breath. The engagement of Emmanuel through this challenging work, in both moods and tonality, was infectious. This was the high point for some of the audience.

However, for me, Emmanuel’s rendition of Ysaye’s sonata for solo violin No 6 took pride of place in this concert. Technical challenges seemed to be cast aside with ease as his violin filled the auditorium.

Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, a piece designed to showcase the brilliance of violinist Josif Kotek, for us demonstrated, again, the superb technical skills of Emmanuel. We had previously heard many a superbly extended sensitive pianissimo, but here, as well, was light hearted jollity presented via virtuosic skills. An upbeat finale.

We came away calmed by the delicacy of our duo’s encore: Debussy’s Beau Soir. Emmanuel Bach will be a name to look out for.

NADSA Concert, Friday 16th September 7.30pm at The Courtenay Centre, Newton Abbot.