Viennese Duo Impresses Enthusiastic Audience


Elena Denisova and Alexei Kornienko
April 27, 2010
Knopper's Hall, Kings University College

Russian-born and Viennese-based violinist Elena Denisova and pianist Alexei Kornienko made a brief stop in Edmonton on Tuesday, April 27 while on a Canadian Tour.  They performed the final recital of the “New Music Alberta” Concert Series sponsored by Tonus Vivus Society for New Music in Knoppers Hall at The King’s University College.


Their eclectic programme consisted of a variety of works by eight composers from four countries, two of which are from Canada.  The recital opened with Devil’s Dance for Violin and Piano by former Edmontonian Ron Hannah.  It happened to be my third hearing of the piece, which is in 11/8 time, and it was, for me, the most spirited and electrifying interpretation.  Denisova and Kornienko delivered it in an impassioned, driving tempo.


Chant funebre for Violin and Piano by Croatian composer Ivo Josipovic began with an ominous atmosphere that eventually developed into a brief song and then, subsequently, into a frantic, haunting lamentation.  Denisova produced a vast array of atmospheric effects including pizzicati, chords and harmonics with occasional intrusions of gorgeous melodic sequences interspersed with agitated and dense textures.  This work clearly demonstrated the calibre of the duo’s ensemble – the two continuously performed as one.


Belgian Ludo Geloen’s all too brief Green Gauge for Violin and Piano proved to be a sunny, bright work with imitative sections between the two instruments.


Next came Stück for Solo Violin by Austrian composer Soo Jung Shin, a work that is quite Bartókian in its demeanour.  It is technically challenging for the performer, yet immensely musically satisfying for the listener.


Between 1985 and 1988, Belgian composer Boudewijn Buckinx composed his post-modern 1001 Sonatas for Violin and Piano, BBWV 1988.09.  Each of these musical miniatures is approximately one minute or less in duration, and Denisova and Kornienko performed five of them.   In these brilliantly condensed pieces that are varied in style and demeanour – from lyrical and melodic to angular and pointillistic – Buckinx has proven that he has a lot to say musically in each brief moment.


Following intermission, the duo introduced Schubert-Paraphrasen by Austrian composer Maximilian Kreuz.  The themes in his work are based upon the famous Duo in A Major by Franz Schubert (1797-1828).  A three movement work, the classically derived music, though given a distinctly contemporary flavour, proved to be passionate and full of energy.  The middle slow movement was quite impressionistic in character.  The final movement, which began like a canon, was bright and animated and energetic with occasional wild moments.


Local Edmonton composer Thom Golub’s Noosphere (pronounced “No-oh-sphere”) for Violin and Piano was given its World Première performance by the Duo who had commissioned the work.  It proved to be extremely atmospheric and moody, and elicited several intriguing bowing effects from Denisova such as sul ponticello (playing on the bridge) and col legno (playing with the wood of the bow).  The nature of the piece involved some aspects of improvisation on the part of both performers.


The concert closed with a rich, romantic work dating from 1896 – the five movement Serenade for Violin and Piano by Austrian composer Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942). Hearing this work live proved to be much more satisfying than listening to their 2005 recording of the piece.  There is something to be said for musical presence and simply being there.


Elena Denisova is a very animated performer, but every gesture serves a purpose and has meaning to her expression.  Her tone is always clean and pristine with impeccable intonation.  Alexei Kornienko tends to be more restrained physically, but the musicality and expression still emerge none-the-less.  The two are a true duo – one never overpowers the other, and their sense of ensemble is so tight that following protracted silences, their precision in united entries borders on the uncanny.


more in Music Feature     |     posted Jun 2nd, 2010 at 12:02pm     

Comments: 2

cooperjames wrote:

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on Jun 4th, 2010 at 11:51am Report Abuse

cooperjames wrote:

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on Jun 4th, 2010 at 11:52am Report Abuse

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