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Familiar musicians are a treat as a duo

11.15.11
Cho-Liang Lin
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

By Olin Chism

FORT WORTH -- Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist Cho-Liang Lin are familiar faces in Dallas-Fort Worth, but they are generally heard separately rather than as musical partners. The audience at Tuesday night's Cliburn at the Bass concert saw and heard them together, and it was quite a treat.

Their program was titled "An Evening in Paris." It featured music by composers who were either French or were intimately associated with that great city.

For me, the high point of their remarkably varied program was its conclusion. A brilliant performance of a masterpiece, Maurice Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Piano, displayed their individual gifts as well as their spot-on teamwork; they were on the same wavelength all the way.

Not the least of their gifts is the ability to impart a sense of personality through the music they play. For Americans, this would certainly be true of the middle movement of three: Ravel titled it Blues; it's one of several nods by the composer in our direction. It highlights the violin, and Lin imparted just the right mood.

Another winner was Claude Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano, the composer's last completed composition -- he wrote it as he was dying of cancer. This was atmospherically played by Parker and Lin. The first movement of the work seems a little melancholy, but the final two movements are more life-affirming. You'd hardly guess the circumstances of its creation.

Igor Stravinsky was represented by two Samuel Dushkin arrangements: Suite Italienne (probably the most familiar work of the evening to most of the audience) and a rarity, Tango, which is a witty take on the dance, with a cute ending.

Another take on a dance was Ravel's Cuban-flavored Piece en forme de Habanera. A Jascha Heifetz arrangement of Debussy's lovely Beau Soir (somewhat akin in mood to Claire de Lune), Ravel's Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Faure (another brief, lovely work) and Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Violin and Piano rounded out an interesting program.

Parker and Lin had a discerning audience; several professional violinists from North Texas were in attendance.