The five or six dozen listeners in Meredith's Carswell Hall on the evening of March 3 were treated to an impressive display of talent by adjunct faculty member Carol Chung, violin, and her two guests, NC Symphony violist David Marschall, with whom she frequently performs in duo, and pianist Kent Lyman, also of the Meredith faculty.
The program opened with Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonata in e minor for Solo Violin, Op. 27/4, dating from 1923 and dedicated to Fritz Kreisler. Ysaÿe was one of the greatest virtuoso violinists of his day, and indeed of all time, but he had no formal training as a composer. His six Sonatas for Solo Violin are very much in the tradition of Bach's six Sonatas and Partitas for the instrument in that they are technically varied and challenging and not meant to be merely flashy showpieces. They were ostensibly all outlined in a single day, after Ysaÿe heard Joseph Szigeti perform the Bach works, and each is dedicated to a then-contemporary violinist, Szigeti being the dedicatee of the first one. No. 4 is the closest to the Bach works in both spirit and style; each has its own distinct imprint, generally related to some aspect of the violinist to whom it is dedicated. It is not always easy to master the technical aspects of works like these and make them musical at the same time, but Chung rose to the challenge and did so in spades.
Marschall joined her next for Bohuslav Martinu's Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola , composed in February-March 1947. They chose to use a single music stand and play side by side rather than facing each other, and it worked extremely well for the sound. The voices of the two instruments, which are truly treated as equals, blended as would those of two singers, continuing or trading phrases, echoing or responding to each other, in a marvelous and energetic interplay of melodic lines. This is a lovely work that deserves far more exposure than it appears to have, and it was marvelously played. It was the ravishing delight of the evening.
After a brief intermission, announced from the stage but not in the printed program, Lyman joined Chung to play the Sonata No. 1 in f minor, Op. 80, of Sergei Prokofiev, which dates from 1938-1945. This wartime composition is mostly jagged, often jarring music, without being overly dissonant, especially in the first two movements, but it includes as well some gorgeous soaring melodies; hence, it has some enormous contrasts. It contains some rushed, muted scales that are said to represent the sound of wind in a graveyard and which Chung executed to perfection. The final Allegrissimo movement surges forward at a fiendish pace. The musicians gave the work a fine rendition.
Chung chose nothing but technically difficult music for this recital and played it all with seeming ease while making everything wonderfully musical at the same time. The audience rightfully responded with enthusiastic well-deserved applause.
The printed program lacked dates of composition and there were no written program notes. None were given orally either. While none of this was really obscure music by little-known composers, a bit of background on the works would have been nice.