Violinist Natasha Korsakova Joins Triangle Artists for a Glorious Afternoon of Music
If one believes that art imitates nature, this recital served as the perfect example. Outside St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Raleigh, late afternoon light illuminated the leaves so the colors were spectacular. Inside the nearly packed sanctuary, music lovers listened to great music performed by a stellar group of players. Featured violinist Natasha Korsakova was joined by guest artists Kevin Kerstetter, organ, Ariadna Nacianceno, piano, and Katherine Kaufman Posner, soprano.
Natasha Korsakova has deep musical roots… With all this experience and training, Ms. Korsakova demonstrated a genuine ease on the stage. Engaging with her audience, she has the grace and charm of a fully developed superstar.
Korsakova’s repertoire is impressive, and the afternoon’s recital pieces were well chosen. She began with Tomaso Antonio Vitali’s Chaconne, a piece greatly loved by violinists but with an uncertain authorship because of the unusual modulations. Heifetz, who played lots of arrangements, also performed it. This arrangement with organ worked particularly well in the sanctuary. I closed my eyes, imagining myself in Italy. Her instrument, made in 1765 by Vincenzo Panormo, sounded beautiful, particularly on the bass side. Her open G string is deep and rich. Notes on the E string shimmered. With flawless technique, Korsakova made the instrument sing. Organist Kevin Kerstetter played with great sensitivity until the very last variation (marked forte), where the organ overpowered the violin. The audience approved, however, and offered plenty of applause.
Vitali’s work was just the warm-up for J.S. Bach’s Chaconne for solo violin, one of the great works for the instrument. Korsakova marked it with her own style, playing the inner rhythms with speed and great clarity; like a master painter, she treated the perilous string crossings as if she were dabbing them with a brush. She smiled frequently as if to say, “I’m in love with this music.” This piece can sound like a labored war horse on a violin with a modern set-up. Not so for this violinist!
Korsakova played two pieces with Adriadna Nacianceno: the famous Ballade and Polonaise, Op. 38, by the 19th century Belgian violinist and composer, Henri Vieuxtemps, and Astor Piazzolla’s “Grand Tango,” a piece Gidon Kremer made popular with his Hommage à Piazzolla (1996). The two artists played together like dancers, capturing the exotic feel of the tango. I was disappointed in their choice to close the piano lid, which squashed the beautiful overtones, especially from the upper registers. Nevertheless, I was impressed with their fine collaboration and sheer joy in performing together. I hope they do more.
In response to the enthusiastic audience cry for more, the duo returned for an excerpt of “Grand Tango.” Their performance was, again, marvelous.
Korsakova and Kerstetter accompanied the wonderful soprano Katherine Kaufman Posner in “Erbarme dich” from J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
All told, it was a glorious afternoon of music.
Korsakova will travel to other destinations on the East Coast this month. On behalf of her friends in North Carolina, I wish her well.
CVNC – Online Art Journal in North Carolina
Masterful command of the violin. Great performance from Gallardo too.
The young Russian violinist Natasha Korsakova’s appearance at the last concert of the Gli Incontri dell’Accademia 2007 exhibition certainly struck a chord. The Sala Maffeiana was completely sold out, right down to the very last seat. And people’s interest was duly rewarded. The concert violinist proved that she has several strings to her bow – both in terms of her innate musicality and her virtuosity.
With a perfect mixture of spontaneity and tenderness, the soloist demonstrated in the final section of the concert her exceptional command of the instrument, which she no doubt owes to her father Andrei’s tuition, himself a famous concert musician. Under her command, the violin begins to sing, the sound is pure, authentic and so full of intimate expressiveness that the interpretation never once drifts into monotone and weak sentimentality. This rings particularly true in her interpretation of Mozart’s Sonata KV 454 Andante and the Sonata, Opus 12 no. 1 variations by Beethoven, which she performs with great elegance and originality supported by the unusually powerful playing of her colleague, the Argentinean pianist José Gallardo.
Korsakova’s enthusiasm is tangible and infectious – which is true for Gallardo, too. He accompanies her throughout with empathy and in perfect harmony.
And yet for Debussy’s sonata in G Minor, the central part of her performance, she even seems to go one better. Her Très anime in the finale in particular – an absolutely unleashed Gigue, interpreted flawlessly with its emphasis of creative momentum and joie de vivre – is astoundingly good. The concert ends with a humorous – and, of course, perfectly executed – allusion to the popular Gershwin of “An American in Paris” (in an arrangement by Heifetz) and the fantasy of “Porgy and Bess” (in an arrangement by Frolov). With the famous Summertime theme, Korsakova scales the heights of her performance with great intensity and interpretive skill, Gershwin’s music, however, always remaining centre stage.
Both artists received resounding applause and finished with an encore from Lehàr‘s “The Merry Widow”.
All the colours of Gershwin on stage
First the music, then the text. In anticipation of the contributions from the organisers, guests and official artists, the violinist Natasha Korsakova and pianist José Gallardo created a seductive acoustic framework for the official presentation of “America!” on the stage of the Teatro Grande and whisked the audience away to the staves of the New World.
The short, powerful concert with Jascha Heifetz’s arrangements where the violin has the challenging task of making Gershwin’s melodies blossom in all their tonal shades, sketched what before was an unfamiliar picture of the composer George Gershwin.
They started off with five pieces from the opera “Porgy and Bess”, five wise fragments hovering between European form and American rhythm, José Gallardo at the piano who embellished the tones Korsakova’s violin had delivered in broad spans of volatile and enticing play abound with contrasts.
Sublime contradictions, the hallmark of Gershwin’s music – elite and popular, light and refined at once – which strike a unique and wonderful balance in “Summertime”, one of the better-known and frequently performed works of the American author. Korsakova’s fiery lyricism and bitter-sweet play is irresistible.
Gershwin’s music in “An American in Paris” immediately after, appears more high-spirited and less respectful. Originally composed as a symphony and colourful Aladdin’s cave of acoustic invention, the work loses some power and subtle tonal richness in the version for piano and violin. At the same time, the acerbic self-mockery of the American’s dissonant encounter with Europe is made clearer in the musical narration.
A brilliant performance with sparks of humour flying between strings and bow; the quaint sound effects are left up to the ivories.
The finale: two short preludes, fleeting water colours arising from the successful mixture of bright melodic brushstrokes and a constantly powerful, rhythmic bow.
Carried away in an intimate and pleasant tête-à-tête with the piano, the violin ignites with folk sounds, enlaced with classical reminiscences and pop echoes.
Finally, genuine applause for the artists and the musical magic of America.
Giornale di Brescia
Third Castle Festival Weekend: Impressive Finale for Musical Highlight
“… Four songs from “Much Ado About Nothing” by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, an inspirational stroke of genius to which the audience gratefully responded. The entire audience in any case glowed with radiant delight thanks especially to Natasha Korsakova and her violin. The Russian violinist gave a virtuoso performance of the four Korngold songs – attacking, yet tender, spellbinding and bewitching in her charm, and truly moving with her play. Her accompanist on the grand piano, Ira Maria Witoschynsky, also adopted an exquisitely consistent and subtle, relaxed style. All the musicians truly deserved the rapturous applause at the end …”
Exotically Coloured Farawy Kingdoms, Sensual Encounter
Natasha Korsakova and Jose Gallardo Make A Convincing Duo with “Opera Fantasies, Grand Tango” in Höhenried
“… The narrative approach that Korsakova adopted to conjure her unique violin playing is probably explained by the fact that she is also a budding author. After the brilliantly contrived allegro, a delicate and yet passionate andante was unravelled that Gallardo embellished with richness of tone. It was a sheer delight to listen to the aesthetically pleasing technical accomplishment of the acclaimed and award-winning pianist… The allegretto and finale also developed into fireworks that were not showy, but full of bright flashes of light. They soon faded when Beethoven’s C Minor Sonata Op. 30/2 created a dramatic turning point. Here, too, an image of Greek plasticity was crafted, held with excitement and aroused emotion… Throughout the adagio, Gallardo unveiled sensitive warmth, within which Korsakova was able to define an intimate song culminating in a scherzo with a strong feel for emotional rhythm. Gallardo especially mastered the energetic and fiery dimension. But in Beethoven’s allegro finale, Korsakova also signalled the theme for the second half: bravado in all its diverse hues. Jascha Heifetz, the legendary violinist, had arranged the five fragments from “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin for a duet by violin and piano. Exactly as in Paganini’s famous piece, it was mainly about putting on show the full range of different virtuoso violin-playing techniques – and Korsakova achieved the same, although thoughtfully. She sought differentiation, not instant effect, and was in harmony with the magnificent piano part played by Gallardo …”
Revelation in the “Back Room”
Natasha KORSAKOVA and Robert POBITSCHKA give a concert at Grosser Ehrbarsaal, Vienna
“… If you wish to experience world class, which you often bitterly miss at the great concert halls, you should from time to time cast a look at Wien’s side scenes! A concert hall which has become more frequently a place of great surprises during the last few years is the Grosser Ehrbarsaal in Mühlgasse.
The Russian-Greek violinist Natasha Korsakova and the Austrian pianist Robert Pobitschka surprised the audience with a concert of exceptional class! In an ensemble play, carried by an inspired conception of themselves, the two artists hypnotized their audience from the very first note. Bach’s Sonata No. IV in c-minor resembled in places a magic incantation, focusing Bach’s nature like a beam into the hall: Bach is a composer made of flesh and blood! The following Sonata-Ballad by Eugene Auguste Ysaye for violin solo was captivating in the violinist’s equally rhapsodic and transparent conception, her technical mastery was remarkable. Beethoven’s Sonata op. 12 No. 1 seemed in some places to be slightly overdone concerning the tempi. But someone’s heart, excessively full of artistic intention, can overflow a little from time to time! After the interval Robert Pobitschka’s own composition “Kyrie” was played, dedicated to nature and having had its premiere at the United Nations in Vienna at the International Day of the Earth 2002. Pobitschka’s work is a declaration of belief in love, but also an outcry in the face of the destruction of our planet. The composition is formally classical but doesn’t shrink back from dissonances where these describe the state of the earth. The composer is always in search of a harmonic solution. The audience reacted both pleasantly surprised and amazed. The following Sonata in G-major op. 78 by Johannes Brahms was a great success of the two artists. The perfectly synchronous play of them was filled with burning passion and at the same time inscrutably deep, like the master from Hamburg himself might have been…”
Der Neue Merker
Magnificent ensemble playing of an extremely talented duo
“Stylistically and technically as well as musically accomplished the duo Natasha Korsakova and José Gallardo showed the perfect, rousing range of their skill at their appearance in Olpe: The two young artists presented a daring range from classical Sonatas and filigreed music of the late romantics to a firework of the contemporary “Tango nuevo” – and convinced all along the line with this richly varied programme…. In the third movement of Mozart’s Sonata B-major KV 378 the impression of Korsakova as a celebrated Mozart-interpreter was to be strengthended once and for all, because here she proved together with her partner a precise and jaunty play without becoming shallow or arbitrary…. Even more in their element the artists threw themselves into Beethoven’s great Sonata c-minor. Dramatic in its conception this Sonata proves to be an enormously heroic and captivating piece of music especially in the first and last movement. There was a noticeable tension between the violinist and her accompanist during the mysterious first theme of the exposition, transmitting to the no less fighting second theme. In the great coda at the end of the Allegro con brio the interpreters emphasized the completely different colouring of this music in contrast to the rippling Mozart. But even here Gallardo restrained himself in spite of the full fingering of the piano score. And at what a marvellous price: The audience heard and saw an exceptional violinist who mastered this great Sonata!”
Castle Festival Season, with Stunning Finale
“… It was sheer brilliance: the violinist, Korsakova’s contribution to the evening embraced the concert hall with her intoxicating charisma. Her mimicry was rapturous one minute, and resolute, even reserved the next, only revealing her extraordinary empathy and great presence. Her final piece, “D’un Matin de Printemps” by Lili Boulanger, was a sensational triumph. The Korsakova/Witoschynskyj duet outshone each other with their inspirational and captivating sense of drama, although they were also restrained, until they each finally raised the stakes, unleashing a stunning finale with unbelievable intensity. The two artists achieved unbelievable, almost perfect harmony, sheer excellence, and they are evidently also genuine and delightful personalities, who each deserved the audience’s adoration, the cries of bravo, the encores, and the tumultuous applause. The final evening of the Castle Festival Season was a resounding success.”
Great art with violin and piano
“… It is admirable how the depth of Brahms’ emotional life was expressed: There was no slip into inappropriate drama or sentimental mawkishness – rarely has Brahms’ very own sentiment captivated and touched me so much…. A completly different character had Beethoven’s Sonata c-minor. In the first and last movement Beethoven’s typical force changed with heartfelt vocal passages.Remarkable the pianist’s sensitive rendering of semi-quaver passages and rumbling tremuli in the first movement. Here as in the fourth movement a convincing mastery of technique with an impressing faithfulness to the original were combined … Great art, an impressing, cultivated play.”
A truly special concert
“… The duo Korsakova – Gallardo enchanted the audience for about two hours with polished tonal variations of great masters: Mozart, van Beethoven, Brahms and Piazzola were being performed in symphonic perfection. Musical sensitivity, artistic ability of interpretation and perfect intonation combined on the highest level… Be it Beethoven’s Sonata c-minor, Brahms’ or Piazzola’s “Grand Tango” – Korsakova and Gallardo managed to present these uncompromisingly demanding masterworks with such lightness that one might assume they had never done anything different. With unique elegance the violinist almost flew over the notes and transformed them as if mechanically into a melodious work of art that couldn’t have been more moving. The audience thanked with thunderous applause for these impressing hours which were truly a special concert.”
Natasha Korsakova, violin
Jose Luis Gallardo, piano
Caspary Auditorium The Rockefeller University
“Natasha Korsakova is an exceptionally talented violinist. She performs with utmost insight into the works she plays, interpreting with a gift for feeling what the composer most likely felt and transmitting it to the audience. Those in attendance on March 11th were in awe of Korsakova’s excellent technique, but even more enraptured and galvanized by her exquisite tone and great personality on stage. It didn’t hurt that her pianist, Jose Luis Gallardo, was in perfect sync with her—both ensemble-wise and personality-wise. They gave consistently polished performances throughout their fantastic recital. In Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 in G, Korsakova played with a strong, velvety sound. Gallardo provided a light, but distinctive touch, bringing rhythmic excitement to the music without overpowering his partner. Their energy never lulled, a witty sense of humor prevailed throughout, and their phrases were rendered with elegance and finesse. The second movement in particular had an abundance of refined balances, color and tempo changes. The ritardando at the end of the second movement, for example, was perfectly timed—embellishment at all.In the solo work by Ysaye: L’Aurore from the Sonata in G, op. 27 No. 5, Korsakova sounded a bit more cautious, but she pulled off the tricky double stops and leaps without any problems. The following piece: the Heifetz arrangement of Gershwin’s 5 Fragments from “Porgy and Bess” was brilliantly performed. Korsakova souped up the portamenti (slides) with both flair and taste. And she sounded as if she belonged on stage at the MET with the cast of the opera, as she sang Gershwin’s inspired melodies on her fiddle with loyalty to the text of the original songs and the characters that sing them. She also belted out a big, lush sound. One of the reasons her beautiful sound projects so well is that throughout the program, she always applied a full bow—going from the very frog to the very tip. Naturally, she varied the degrees of the bow’s speed and pressure, providing stylistic and coloristic contrasts that make her the interesting performer she is.The Gershwin was great, but it was amazingly topped by an electric performance of Sofia Gubaidulina’s magnificent arrangement of Piazzolla’s “Grand Tango”. Their playing swayed, popped out and teased, but more importantly, it builded momentum from start to finish, with Gallardo adding climactic, virtuosic touches toward the end. He is a fabulous pianist and chamber music player—technically brilliant, yet both sensitive and energetic when he is not prominently on display. This fantastic pair of performers needs to come to New York again soon. Carnegie Hall, are you listening?”
New York Concert Review
A stunningly beautiful listening experience
“In the play of the violinist Natasha Korsakova and the pianist José Gallardo resounds the fascination of strange worlds.”…. This time it was the Russian exceptional violinist Natasha Korsakova and her congenial partner on the piano, José Gallardo, who set about blasting the concrete of firmly established opinions with an explosive programme of Tartini, Ysaye, Beethoven, Paganini, Saint-Saens and Franck.What appeared from beneath the surface was not only a stunningly beautiful listening but also an exciting aha experience. For when Natasha Korsakova caresses the strings of her violin, nothing remains the same. The grown-up child prodigy from Moscow gives composers and indivudual pieces of work back what the mechanisms of concert business all too often deny: their neglected, sometimes strange sides which are just as much their intrinsic nature. In this way ambivalence and transitions can be felt which are often being covered up by the standard nature of many concerts. The fruitful tension between baroque attitude, gallant embellishment and chromatic passion as it is expressed for example in Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata. Natasha Korsakova does justice to all three facets of Tartini when she liberates him from the stigma of an Italian confectioner with an agreeably unpretentious Larghetto, interpreting him as a forfather of the musical Storm and Stress. It still has a moving, even touching mellifluousness, but it doesn’t develop into cloying sweetness. Or Natasha’s ingenious transformation of Paganini: Under her magic hands the diabolic ecstasy becomes a singing angel whose “Cantabile” reveals the incredibly sensitive, melancholic gracefulness of the Italian who all too often is being misunderstood as a technocratic exhibitionist. Similarly she deals with Beethoven’s Sonata in G-major, the festive melody of which she intersperses again and again with a dance-like wink and demonstrates with polished position changes that the supposedly introverted misanthrope is also capable of smiling. That Natasha Korsakova time and again accomplishes such unconventional perspectives is of course also because of her wonderful partner. José Gallardo is an ideal of an accompanist, a gentleman pianist: calm, discreet and with the subtle but interpretationally rich art of reduction of the all-rounder he prepares a stage, no: a cosmos of possibilities of development for Korsakova, provokes a dialogue with her, but doesn’t shrink from taking control from time to time. This was wonderfully audible in Cesar Franck’s Sonata in A-major, that stirring drama of the senses in which formally severe toughtfulness and colourful impulsiveness of the musical language symbolically intensify each other.
Franck’s message is also Natasha Korsakova’s and José Gallardo’s this evening: Under the surface of tradition and unambiguity always vibrates the fascination of unknown, strange worlds. Whoever wants to understand those needs courage – and good ears.”
Natasha Korsakova and Oleg Poliansky in Wigmore Hall, London
“… Natasha Korsakova looks straight out of a painting by Augustus John, but there‘s nothing meretricious about her fastidiously sensitive playing. Opening with Bach‘s Chaconne, she brought out the grandeur and sweep of this daunting work – in which the violin must take on all the colours of the orchestra – with relaxed authority… After the interval, fireworks. Korsakova delivered Saint-Saens’s bravura study, the valse Caprice, with impeccable precision and an impish smile. Ravel‘s sonata in G-Major made an exhilarating finale. They gave a Gershwin encore, and then a piece of Grapelli-style swing, as though the party was just getting into its stride. More, please! These charismatic performers should be brought back without delay!”
“… Natasha Korsakovas dynamic range, tone and intonation were worthly of the highest praise.”