by Mark Gresham | 12 SEP 2016
ATLANTA, GA – Violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Julio Elizalde opened Emory University’s esteemed Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series this past Saturday with a sold-out recital of music by Bartók, Brahms and Franck at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts’ 825-seat Emerson Concert Hall.
Chang and Elizalde, who are beginning their fourth season of concert collaboration, began their performance with Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56. They followed the Bartók with the Sonata No. 3 in D minor, op. 108, of Johannes Brahms. After intermission, the duo turned to the Sonata in A major, FWV 8, of Belgian-French composer César Franck.
Chang played the entire program of familiar violin repertoire from memory, often with great physical vigor and gyrations which seemed at great odds with the curiously small volume of sound she was drawing from her instrument in the acoustically generous Emerson Hall, When she did get loud, the sound was inexplicably metallic in character, especially on the upper strings. The opening of the second movement of the Brahms, on lower strings, was the most satisfying part of the first half, in that respect. Nevertheless, it was where fireworks occurred in the music that her fans in the audience were most thrilled.
That was especially true of the fast second movement of the Franck Sonata, were they could not help bursting into applause at its end, before Chang and Elizalde could move on to more original Recitative-Fantasia that serves as the third movement. The sonata’s finale, summing up the work with a powerful coda, gave the audience another ovation on the order of what they had, perhaps, launched prematurely in the middle of the piece. However, the duo’s rendering of Franck’s music was pinnacle of the evening, and due applause was warranted. ▪