An astounding transformation took place between the end of Vadim Repin's printed Dorothy Chandler Pavilion recital and his first encore, Sarasate's "Zigeunerweisen," Sunday night: The young fiddler, who had just played a serious and respectable program of standard sonatas, suddenly found his energy and started strutting his musical stuff.
This has happened before: Duty turns to pleasure when a gifted virtuoso turns to the music he loves.
In the case of "Zigeunerweisen," the love Repin showed for the beloved showpiece, not to mention the virtuoso flair and hair-raising speed he projected, took one's breath away. A large and appreciative audience yelled its approval. Its reward was a second and final encore in Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 7.
The 25-year-old violinist from western Siberia, who in previous visits to the Southland has played familiar concertos with great aplomb, was making his debut as a recitalist, and had put together a contrast of items: works by Grieg, Prokofiev, Hindemith and Beethoven, ending with the challenging "Kreutzer" Sonata. The violinist's abilities never came into question; he has the technique and basic musical vocabulary to produce credible performances of them all.
His deepest concentration, emotional thrust and aural imagination seldom came into these readings, however.
Grieg's Sonata No. 2 emerged lyrical and showy, a happy realization of its straightforwardness. Prokofiev's D-major Sonata, Opus 94a, enjoyed wonderful moments--especially in the touching closing page of the first movement--and open and clear textures. Hindemith's Sonata in E-flat, Opus 11, No. 1 (1918) could have been more mordant and articulate, yet it pleased.
And Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata came out clean and uneventful, never defaced but only minimally sketched. There is a world of feeling and authority within its three movements that Repin has not yet entered.
Replacing on short notice the announced Boris Berezovsky, who withdrew "for personal reasons," a longtime Repin collaborator, Alexander Markovich, dressed in a white dinner jacket as if he had just arrived from the tropics, played handsomely, if in moments too quietly for the room. He too made "Zigeunerweisen" one of the high points of this eventful spring season.