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Dance and Music Reviews : Strong Program at Ambassador

March 26, 1993|JOHN HENKEN

The interplay of personality and repertory is more than just doubled in a duo recital. In a good duo, at least, the partnership dynamics change as much as style with each piece.

That was one of the fascinations of the strong sonata program presented by violinist Elmar Oliveira and pianist Horacio Gutierrez, Wednesday at Ambassador Auditorium.

The effect could be startling, as when the supple lines and half-tone insinuations in the Ravel Sonata gave way to the emphatic passions and heaving sound of the Brahms D-minor Sonata. We seemed to be hearing not just two different pieces, but two ensembles as well.

There were constants, of course. Oliveira drew a warm, steady but slightly gruff sound as his foundation, supporting a very relaxed Tempo di menuetto in Beethoven's Sonata in G, Opus 30, No. 3, as readily as the edgier inflections of Ravel's Blues movement. The clarity and articulate strength of Gutierrez proved as welcome and pertinent in the sharply defined variations of Mozart's Sonata in G, K. 379, as in the sly bounce of Brahms' "Un poco presto" movement.

The pair really listened to each other, and seemed to take a lively joy not only in their individual work but in the interactive product. The results were consistently engaging to the ear, if not always convincing to the mind.

For all the sensitivity apparent in shifts of style and tone, this was not a purist's paradise, in means or ends. Patrician elegance in the Mozart could become repressive, while the volatile surges in the Brahms--defined by throbbing vibrato and heavy portamento from Oliveira--could seem over-the-top.

Fullest satisfaction, for one listener, came in the Ravel. There was neo-classic poise to the Allegretto, subtly stretched lines and pointed timbral variety to the Blues, and much virtuoso flair in the finale.

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