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Compelling musicianship

A recital by Ildikó Iván and Tamás Vásáry,
reported by MALCOLM MILLER


A magical 'Music Soirée' by the distinguished pianist Tamás Vásáry and soprano Ildikó Iván enthralled a capacity audience at Leighton House, Holland Park, London, UK on Monday 13 January 2003, with a moving selection of lieder, arias and piano works.

Ildikó Iván is a noted Hungarian opera singer whose career since winning major awards in the 1980s includes appearances with the Bonn Opera and Hungarian State Opera as well as several operatic films. Her rich vibrant soprano voice and depth of characterisation were the impressive qualities in this concert, presented by the Hungarian Cultural Centre as part of their focus on famous Hungarian women. The Centre's Director general, Katalin Bogyay, introduced the concert in the presence of HE the Ambassador of Hungary and the Hungarian Minister of Culture, an eminent playwright and, by chance, Ms Iván's husband.

It was an evening of compelling musicianship, launched by a bold Liszt-Verdi 'Rigoletto Quartet' paraphrase in which Vásáry's dexterity glistened, allowing the shimmering harmonies ample space to resonate, avoiding any sense of hurried phrasing and savouring the dramatic contrasts between the suave Duke's melody and the fioritura of his two amours.

Vásáry's kaleidoscopic pianistic palette was artfully applied in Schumann's Frauenliebe und Leben, the main work of the evening, where singer and accompanist seemed ideally united in a wonderful interpretation of this great masterpiece.

Ms Iván's operatic characterisations captured the mood of each song perfectly, moving through a gamut of expression from the ebullient optimism of the first song to the despair and angst of the last, where the piano's poignant postlude retrieves the initial motifs of the opening to revive hope and passion. There were many memorable highpoints, the heroic melodic decorations of the second, and unquiet turmoil of the third, the long breathed phrases of the lyrical fourth song, the halting emotion of the sixth. Vásáry took care to underline important harmonies, subtly following the vocal rubato, and evoked that uniquely Schumanesque sense of longing and the ingredient Charles Rosen has stressed as the essential innovation of the romantic imagination, musical memory.

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Copyright © 21 January 2003 Malcolm Miller, London, UK


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