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Hagner shines in the classic sense

The young violinist from Munich shows why she is an emerging international star at a concert in Cerritos.

May 07, 2003|Richard S. Ginell | Special to The Times

Violinist Viviane Hagner has amassed a hefty briefcase of credits besides the usual competition victories, performing with the likes of Zubin Mehta, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim and other conducting luminaries. She also has a CD out on EMI Classics Debut series, teamed with her sister Nicole.

Fortunately, the attention from the international glitterati is justified, for the 26-year-old, Munich-born violinist is developing into an interesting interpretive musician.

At her Jose Iturbi Gold Medal recital at the Cerritos Center on Monday night, Hagner opened with an imaginative reading of Beethoven's early Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano -- no warmup this -- adopting a thin, ascetic tone, with some playful rhythmic characterizations and a secure command of the line.

With the first notes of the Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano, Hagner's playing became more intimate, expanding the dynamic range while maintaining virtually flawless intonation. Though the so-called blues movement is not really a blues, Hagner understands the hybrid that Ravel had in mind, sliding gracefully between some notes in the insinuating manner of Stephane Grappelli.

Elgar's not-often-heard Sonata for Violin and Piano frankly is a bit of a bore, drenched with fusty secondhand Brahmsian flourishes. But it gave Hagner a chance to project a ripe tone quality and some earnest temperament -- and pianist Tatiana Gonchoarova took on a more assertive role than previously in the recital.

The lovable tunes of Tchaikovsky's Valse-Scherzo, Opus 34 amounted to a built-in encore on the printed program, which Hagner dispatched with plenty of technical razzle-dazzle and affectionate rubatos. The same could be said for the designated encore, Kreisler's "Chinese Tambourin."

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