Now in his second year on the faculty of USC, violinist Edward Shmider gave his first local recital in Hancock Auditorium on Saturday evening. Several factors militated against the evening's success.
The program could have been stronger. With the exception of a 1977 work by Alfred Schnittke, the agenda was tiresomely late-Romantic; even Bartok's Sonata of 1903 belongs to that category.
Certainly pianist John Perry could have played less assertively. His technical competence and expressivity notwithstanding, the pianist at many times virtually obliterated the violinist's sound.
To top it all off, the Bartok work fell victim to an annoying and persistent tapping sound emanating from the ceiling.
Not all was lost, however. The Soviet emigre, playing on a borrowed Montagnana instrument, brought drive and direction to Franck's Sonata and Brahms' "F.A.E." Scherzo. Some instances of imperfect intonation could be detected, but the performances, on the whole, emerged solid and secure. Shmider effectively conveyed his passion and poetry in the slow movements of the Franck and Bartok sonatas.
Schnittke's three pieces from the "Suite in the Old Style" offered a welcome contrast. Using Baroque textures and a tonal, quasi-Romantic language, they gave both musicians an opportunity to execute subtle nuances. Mozart's Sonata in C, K. 404, ought to have worked similarly but the two-movement work, offered as an encore, sounded bland and lethargic.