VIAF 2014

A most sophisticated and polished performance

Yesterday evening’s concert, featuring Raskin & Fleischmann Duo from Vienna, was under the distinguished patronage of the Austrian Consul in Malta, Mr Erik Dreymann. The duo, comprised of Johannes Fleischmann (Violin) and Philippe Raskin (Pianoforte) are a professional ensemble who tour the world with a very busy schedule. In fact, after our concert, they told me that they would be flying to Valencia for more concerts and straight on to South America, with concerts scheduled in Columbia, Brazil amongst others.

What was immediately evident from this performance was the high-level sophistication of their playing which did not waver for a single moment. A most polished and accomplished performance it was and this was made clear to all with the first of two works performed during the evening, namely, Mozart’s Violin Sonata in Bb no. 32 K454. The immediately recognizable yet equally inimitable Mozart tone was transmitted right away – a mixture of involvement and detachment, passion and intellect – such a difficult balance to obtain and sustain for lesser mortals. Johannes and Philippe performed with an exquisite refinement that made one think ‘this is how it should be’ without actually knowing why. It’s an immediate aural response that defies philosophical argument.

The Sonata is a wonderful piece, with the pianoforte sharing the same level of commitment and involvement as the violin. Most delectable was the ravishing slow movement, a lilting Andante, that sees a soaring melodic line on the violin reaching peaks of sublimity.

The second and final piece on the programme was a contemporary work by young Austrian composer Christophe Ehrenfellner, who works closely with the Duo and whose works are regularly performed by them. The evening’s work was the Hunt Sonata  op. 26, which is originally a piece of music theatre that has a distinctly programmatic feel to it, with a strong narrative line to push it forward. In fact, the whole work, which takes 90mins to perform, is scheduled to be produced in Vienna in 2018. Hunt Sonata is around 40mins long and is in three movements, following the traditional paradigm of fast-slow-fast. The undoubted technical difficulties on both instruments was evident to hear yet, such is the extraordinary high-level of competence of both performers that they sailed through them masterfully. Once again, the musical intelligence was manifest in their interpretation of the slow movement, which is built on a well-known Schubert song, namely, Nacht und Träume. This flowed ethereally and was utterly beautiful.

A robust round of applause greeted the end of the concert and an encore was given in the form of an improvization on a well-known Viennese tune.

After the concert, performers and patrons, together with the dignitaries present, enjoyed a glass of wine and nibbles al fresco outside the Aula Mgr G. Farrugia.