ANDREW GONZALEZ (VIOLA)
JI, YEKWON SUNWOO (PIANO)
BARGEMUSIC 1 JULY 2016
On a stormy night at Bargemusic, when the boat was rocking more than usual, Andrew Gonzalez cheerfully noted, 'The weather may be bad, but the music is good,' and added that the rain might work well with the Brahms. (He was right.) The composer's two op. 120 sonatas for viola made a sturdy spine for this warm-hearted recital, in unexpected contrast to the relentless drops coming down outside. The soulful outlook of no. 1 in F minor showed Gonzalez at his best, especially in the final Vivace, with its jovial mix of legato and spiccato. The pianist, Ji, could not have been more empathetic. In no. 2 in E flat major, the violist's partner was Yekwon Sunwoo, who added a touch more flamboyance.
Schumann's Adagio and Allegro op. 70 cello, violin or horn, and all with piano. But it would be difficult to imagine it sounding more 'right' than on Gonzalez's viola - a mellow-toned Haenel made in 1930 and inspired by the craftsmanship of Gasparo da Salo. Most impressive of all was Joel Friedman's When the World Disintegrates Before Your Eyes (2013) for solo viola. Using the scherzo from Beethoven's Ninth, Friedman wrote the piece after having a nervous breakdown. Fragments of the Beethoven appear and retreat, then reappear, angrily and obsessively, with more frenzied harmonisations. In Gonzalez's hands, the results were harrowing.