The Press, York by Richard Powell
“Placing old and new side by side can lead to unexpected revelations. Intriguing, then, was the prospect of the “Beethoven Plus” project, the brainchild of violinist Krysia Osostowicz and pianist Daniel Tong.
Taking Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas, the pair have commissioned ten companion pieces – each from a different composer – in the hope of sparking a musical “conversation” between the two.
The three new works performed on Wednesday certainly engaged unreservedly with their sources: Kurt Schwertsik’s knotty miniature gave a kaleidoscopic view of the Sixth Sonata, while Matthew Taylor’s offering distorted the driving rhythms of the “Kreutzer” Sonata into something altogether more macabre.
The juxtaposition helped the performers highlight the often-overlooked carefree side of Beethoven’s musical character; the rarely visited first and sixth sonatas allowed us to glimpse the composer relaxing, reminiscing, even romancing his way towards the interval. These were intimate readings, the earthy waltz of the former work’s finale seemingly expressing a profoundly private kind of joy.
More surprisingly, some of these traits made it into a lyrical second-half performance of the stormy “Kreutzer” Sonata. No need for pyrotechnics: the fire of this interpretation stemmed from the internal conflict of the score.
More rewarding than the marriage of old and new, however, was the pairing of Osostowicz and Tong: silvery nuances and understated agility all contained within a warm, melded sound. Deeply thoughtful music-making, welcomed by an appreciative audience.”