It takes guts to start a debut recital with a solo Bach sonata, but violinist Itamar Zorman showed he had the chops Sunday afternoon at Union College’s Memorial Chapel to convince the large crowd that he’d made the right choice.
Zorman at 29 is a winner of numerous competitions and awards. With such a pedigree, he had nothing to lose in offering a program that was a little off the beaten path. His effortless brilliance, natural versatility, and sensitive artistry easily enticed the audience to listen. His pianist, Kwan Yi, provided superb assistance.
The program had a kind of theme: all the composers had been influenced by Bach’s genius.
After a quiet, introspective beginning, Zorman moved more comfortably into the long second movement of the Bach with its many notes, strong pulses and playful but concentrated mood... He plunged into the slow third movement with fluid phrases and the quicksilver pacing of the finale. Throughout, Zorman used a range of dynamics, gentle nuances and well-arched phrases.
Schnittke’s Sonata No. 2 “Quasi una sonata” (1968) was an atonal quest for a solution that used harmonics, long bars of silence, and a spiky violin part over a percussive piano... The duo was focused and in tune to the piece’s sense/nonsense structure.
Hindemith’s solo Sonata, Op. 31, No. 1... lay easily under Zorman’s agile fingers. He was forceful and driving, spontaneous, showed a flawless technique and rich tones.
In Brahms’ Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Zorman and Yi provided a marvelous clarity of precision, control, and attack. Yi’s pedaling was light as air. Brahms never sounded so transparent. Zorman soared but was never sentimental.
The crowd gave them a standing ovation. The encore was Joseph Achron’s “Hebrew Melody.” Zorman played the sad, romantic song... with deep, rich tones, much fire and passion. With the sun’s last rays filtering through the windows of the now darkening hall, the moment seemed almost spiritual.
Geraldine Freedman, The Daily Gazette, February 17, 2015