New York Times, October 3, 2000

Photo by Chris Lee October 3, 2000, Tuesday

Passionate Playing of a Briton

Thomas Bowes and Eleanor Alberga, a violin-piano duo from Britain, gave a recital at Weill Hall on Sunday evening built around three strong works from the decade between 1915 and 1924: Szymanowski's ''Three Myths,'' Bartok's Second Sonata and Ravel's ''Tzigane.'' The last two of these were written for Jelly d'Aranyi, a violinist remarkable, according to the program note, forher ''passionate and fiery playing.'' Mr. Bowes was passionate and fiery on his own terms, which were thoroughly musical.

He has an excellent range of color, from bleached tones to a full earthiness, and he throws off double stops and harmonics with aplomb. So, though, do all virtuosos. Things that more distinguish Mr. Bowes are his rhythmic suppleness and his command of subtle microtonal tuning as a way of pointing accents or otherwise inflecting the line.

This technique was particularly profitable for him in the first movement of the Bartok sonata, which he took back a little toward its origins in peasant fiddle playing. In the fast second movement he dazzled with his speed and lightness, especially in muted sequences that made his bow sound like a brushing feather.

Bartok's music also brought out his sense of rhythm, his way of bending back from the regular beat, with all the pent-up energy of a sapling bending in the wind.


Copyright2001 The New York Times Company