Concert Review: Canadian violin virtuoso Cerovsek debuts for RCCA at Coronado

Canadian violin virtuoso Corey Cerovsek had his Rockford Coronado debut on Tuesday night, Sept. 27, as the season opener for the Rockford Coronado Concert Association’s 70th season. The RCCA headlines their schedule as “world class,” and certainly Cerovsek merited that claim.

Cerovsek took up the violin at age 5 (what were you doing at 5?). He was winning national competitions at age 9, enrolled at Indiana University at age 12, where he took two bachelor’s degrees (math and music) at age 15. He earned two master’s degrees at 16 and completed his work for doctoral recognition at age 18. We can’t help but wonder if he had a moment for boyish good times along the way, but so often a dedicated artist will say that the good times come in the rewards and satisfaction of achieving artistic excellence.

Does it sound as if I fell in love? Can we blame it on the full moon?

Cerovsek, now age 33, plays with a sure technical mastery that leaves him free to put his whole heart into the emotional expression of his music. He drew out many different colors and shapes from his 1728 Stradivarius, while always in accord with his partner, young Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen.

They both appeared to enjoy their chosen career, and confidently opened the program with a relatively unfamiliar sonata by Leos Janacek (1854-1928). The first movement built on melodic fragments, introduced by the violin, then echoed and expanded on the piano. The sonata continued with more lyrical extended lines in the second movement, a driving spinning-wheel pulse in the third, and an experimental exploration of the instrument’s many voices in the fourth movement. Challenging the listener to search for a more classical form, the sonata’s many sudden shifts of opposing moods may reflect the disordered time of its composition during World War I.

The concert continued with Claude Debussy’s romantic Sonata No. 3, more familiar to today’s audiences, and then, after a brief intermission, Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata, which has its own legends attached to it. The ink on the page was still wet when Beethoven and his violinist gave the sonata its first performance, improvising parts of the second movement variations along the way. On that occasion, the audience demanded that the second movement be repeated—twice—before the third movement continued.

Concerts today are not so free-form, but the audience’s enthusiastic response at the close suggested that another run-through of any part of the evening would have been a welcome gift. The two artists came out for several bows, but clearly felt they had done their evening’s task of winning some hearts in Rockford, with three strenuous and challenging works.

I overheard some audience comments that reflected a bit of dismay at a program that did not rely on the more comfortable response, but it was an evening to be proud of, both for the young musicians and for the RCCA. “Bravo” to all.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2005, issue

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