Review: Friedman and Back
By Tully Potter, The Strad, November 2000
This was a red-letter day for those who know about violin playing, as Erick Friedman hardly ever comes to London and is represented in the record catalogues only by a Tchaikovsky Concerto stemming from Eastern Europe.
I found much of his playing – on a Joseph Curtin violin – absolutely ravishing in spite of certain puzzling aspects. Even with the imperturbable Gordon Back at the piano, the two sonatas in the first half- Brahms’s G major and Beethoven’s C minor – did not really cohere as interpretations, and there were patches of poor tuning in unexpected places. On the other hand, Friedman is the sort of player who can really dazzle you with the second subject of a sonata movement after throwing away the first.
I enjoyed Debussy’s Sonata more, and Ezra Laderman’s Duo, dedicated to Friedman, came across well. Then suddenly the violinist put aside the music stand and became an artist of an altogether different colour for Saint- Saens’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. The tone seemed bigger, the gestures more assured and the virtuosity was staggering – I especially relished the almost impudent down-bow staccato, worthy of Friedman’s teacher Heifetz.
For an encore, nothing less than Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen with no simplifications – tremendous. Finally the Heuberger (arr. Kreisler) Midnight Bells, which Friedman had only recently learnt. He should come back soon and give us the kind of old-fashioned programme that perhaps only he, of today’s virtuosos, can really carry off.