VIAF 2021


This was the festival’s fifth consecutive live performance I followed last week and third at the Aula. It was also one with a difference: one aspect being the considerable age difference between the performers. Their origins are also far distant: the violinist’s go back to Hong Kong and the pianist’s to Serbia. However, music, that great leveller is also a great unifier and the Lee/Lawrence duo worked well.

Charlotte Lee is not quite 15 and at the age of six was a recognised child prodigy. Rather demure and shy in mien, she performed with great precision and bravura, completely absorbed in her music making. This was evident from the start with Wieniawski’s Polonaise de concert in D Major op. 4 which had a lot of dash and brilliance. There was an easy idiomatic switch with Bártok’s popular six Romanian Folk Dances Sz56. Their compact brevity provides a rich colourful tapestry replete with rhythmic diversity and accordingly delivered.

Milica Lawrence’s only solo offering was Chopin’s lovely Ballade N. 1 in G minor, op. 23. It was a very beautiful interpretation of a work which is a mix of high dramatic tension and heart-warming lyricism, as well as sheer technical virtuosity and innate musicality. When the highly deserved applause subsided Charlotte Lee returned with Tartini’s famous 4-movement Sonata in G minor. This was yet another idiomatic shift assumed with ease by the violinist. She continued playing: precise and articulate, focusing on her violin which produced some wonderful sounds but I felt a degree of restraint, too much of it. She shyly bowed a number of times once the work was concluded with its devilishly difficult finale aptly dubbed ” il trillo del diavolo”.  The young lady almost seemed embarrassed at her own bravura.

The recital concluded with two very different popular works. First the hauntingly beautiful  Vocalise, op  34,  n.14 by Rakhmaninov and the perky nod to the Chinese manner in Kreisler’s  freely fantastic Tambourin Chinois, op.3. It was when this was over that Charlotte Lee was finally charmed into smiling, when the pert little 4-year old Carina Cauchi presented her with a memento of the occasion.  I hope that Charlotte Lee will continue on the road of success. She IS very talented but a little more reaching out to the audience could create even greater wonders.

Albert George Storace