TITLE: Maria Milstein and Miriam Leskis
VENUE: St. Paul’s Hall, HuddersfieldBy CHRIS ROBINS
THE talent-spotting ability of Huddersfield Music Society is remarkable.
Their latest find, the Russian-born duo Maria Milstein and Miriam Leskis, were formidable.
After winning a major grant from the Dutch Kersjes Fund last October, violinist Milstein described chamber music as a matter of “sharing, listening to each other, communicating”, and she and pianist Leskis are absolute equals.
They have a big ‘go-for-it’ European sound with a keen biting edge to it when required, an ability to sustain dauntlessly and the capacity to generate enormous undistorted volume.
In the outer movements of Schubert’s A minor Sonatina of 1816 they found passion as well as lyricism, and the second movement was stately paced and sombre.
Their Schubert matched their emotional range in Janacek’s Sonata, stark and raw one moment, tragic and tender the next. They brought to mind the words of that great Yorkshire musicologist Wilfrid Mellers about Janacek in general: “However complex the detail, the operatic ‘projection’ is so vivid that the effect of the music is extraordinarily simple, and simply extraordinary”.
Milstein and Leskis were serious-minded in the Schubert and Janacek. In Beethoven’s Op 12 No 3 Sonata and Stravinsky’s Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée – two lighter-hearted works – they were by no means frivolous. The Beethoven was gruff, jolly and deliciously indelicate. The enchanting (or diverting) nature of Stravinsky’s Divertimento was of an intense kind, so much so that the violin string that snapped during the second movement – replaced with panache and great good humour – seemed inevitable.