In a sonata recital on Wednesday that ran the gamut from classic to modern, Nell Gotkovsky introduced herself as an violinist who initially understates herself rather than reaching out flamboyantly. But her beautiful tone, her complete artistry, her strength and dynamic scope soon endeared her to a large and interested Utah audience.
The newest virtuoso-teacher on the BYU staff, Gotkovsky collaborated with her brother Ivar, for twenty years her sonata partner of preference, whose equal power, vitality and evident excitement in music added to the duo's striking impression.Most impressive of programmed works was the Prokofiev Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80, performed with an ideal balance of fire and repose.
The work is well qualified to win audience acceptance just now, for it sounds refreshingly new but not avant-garde; challenging enough to maintain interest, yet with appealing, even intoxicating melodism. And the Gotkovskys delineated it with such profundity and sensitivity, such linear connection and flow, as to lay both structure and emotion bare.
A melismatic, fluttering introduction was followed by a melancholy opening theme that gave a reflective impression, enhanced by echoing harmonics, set forth in affecting, liquid tone. The following Allegro brusco with its familiar theme proceeded in a lively, even jazzy vein - an interesting tune punctuated by sharp chords, first loud then echoed, building up with power and dipping into the piquant astringency that Prokofiev often favored.
The beautiful Andante seemed to flow from the depths of emotion, a seamless stream of melody - surely one of the longest uninterrupted melodies in existence - sometimes laden with portent, sometimes content with crystal clarity. The closing Allegrissimo (a made-up term?) bounced along in irregular rhythm, as melody again triumphed, decorated with pizzicato and plucked strings, and passed back and forth with perfect equality between the piano and violin, building up to a tumbling, canonic conclusion.
The Gotkovskys opened with a beautiful reading of the Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12 of Beethoven, marred only by a tendency of the piano to dominate (a slight problem all evening). They asserted their authority in the opening chords, and followed up with a communicative, flexible traversal.
In the theme and variations the Gotkovskys revealed one of their finest abilities - to keep the simplicity of the theme as the backbone of every variation. However afield the composer may go in his interpretations, they somehow keep the line of the theme uppermost in the ears of their listeners.
Though Schubert's Sonata No. 4 in A Major, Op. 162 is imbued with his characteristic bubbling vitality, it is perhaps not as graceful as some. Indeed, he got himself out of more than one awkward bind by just chording off at the ends of movements. The Gotkovskys chose to emphasize the sonata's incisive, vigorous aspects.
Turning to Mozart, the duo made a delicate, graceful statement with the six variations on the theme, "Helas, j'ai perdu mon amant" - thoughtful and pensive at times, otherwise gay and lively, offering many treasurable phrases and little pockets of virtuosity.