Lin's recital is the epitome of charm

02.19.10
Cho-Liang Lin
The Salt Lake Tribune

By Catherine Reese Newton

String-popping pyrotechnics were in short supply at Cho-Liang Lin's recital on Thursday. Instead, the violinist's cheerful, understated program bespoke another kind of confidence as he charmed a good-size Libby Gardner Concert Hall crowd -- one that included several of Salt Lake City's top string players as well as former Utah Symphony music director Keith Lockhart -- with his sheer musicality.

As Lin indicated in a pre-concert interview, a thread of good humor ran throughout the evening. Stravinsky's "Suite Italienne," an arrangement of themes from his Pergolesi-inspired ballet "Pulcinella," led off. Lin is one of the most elegant violinists around, spinning out long, legato lines with an almost uncanny smoothness. But he also revealed flashes of Stravinsky's mordant wit; some of the commedia dell'arte -inspired passages had an acerbic edge. His nimble technique was on charming display in the suite's feverish, infectious tarantella movement. Pianist Akira Eguchi, a longtime friend but brand-new recital partner, matched him step for step.

Brahms' A Major Sonata and Dvorák's G Major Sonatina followed. These two composers often are paired on concert programs, and their works on Lin's recital shared an amiable, songful sensibility. Both of them showed off the violinist's ability to pivot deftly between shadow and sunshine. Both works also featured a substantial piano part that further showed off Lin and Eguchi's compatibility.

Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Piano allowed Lin to display a wider range of musical colors, as he moved easily from the gentle opening movement to the fittingly named "Blues" to the fiery perpetual motion of the finale.

Lin cut loose a bit in his effortless-sounding encore, William Kroll's cheerful "Banjo and Fiddle."