November 5, 2016
by Frank Daykin
"Pro Musicis continued its mission statement “Awaken the human spirit” in fine form last night with the recital of its 2015 award winner, Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana. The program was beautifully conceived, stunningly well-played, and thoughtful connections were drawn between the pieces on each half. His pianist, David Fung, was superb.
The program opened with a radiant interpretation of Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Keyboard in E major, BWV 1016. Mr. Fullana’s tone was appropriately scaled down (but never sterile), and he and Mr. Fung did not allow one single opportunity for dialog between the parts to go unexplored or unshaped. The technique and style were impeccable. In the final movement (which is preceded by a sorrowful cantilena), the sense of playfulness and joy of both players was vivid.
After intermission, Mr. Fullana and Mr. Fung resumed their collaboration with one of Mozart’s most experimental sonatas in what was still a relatively new genre: the piano and violin sonata, with his Sonata, K. 303 (293c) in C major. Mozart stealthily gives the impression of two movements for the price of one, with the opening Adagio followed by an Allegro molto, until one realizes that those tempi changes are but the different parts of one sonata-form movement. There follows the true second movement, a Tempo di Menuetto, courtly dances often being considered the only polite way to end a “scholarly” piece like a sonata. In this work, both players recapped the almost supernatural unity they had found in the Bach, with perfect matching of articulation and phrase shape. It was perfection, and I don’t use that word lightly. Too often players either minimize or trivialize these gems.
Then came the sprawling Sonata for Violin and Piano by Richard Strauss (E-flat major, Op. 18), a composer not always thought of for his chamber music. The magic of collaboration continued with superb sensitivity to every harmonic shift (they occur about every two seconds in this work), and great virtuosity from both players. Mr. Fullana’s Stradivarius really got its “lungs expanded” in the big dimensions required by the piece, and Fung never overbalanced, amid the monster piano part. The aggressive moments were handled well, but in the soaring songlike melodies the transfiguration was even better.
After a large ovation, Mr. Fullana and Mr. Fung played two of De Falla’s violin arrangements (from songs): Nana (a lullaby) andEl Paño moruno (the Moorish cloth, a metaphor for virginity!) with yearning authenticity.
Bravo to Pro Musicis for its track record, and to these three artists for elevating a room full of listeners seeking beauty."