French violinist Augustin Dumay is this year’s Chamberfest literal poster boy, his steely gaze and patrician forehead looming large all over the city […] on Friday Dumay performed sonatas by Brahms, Debussy, Ravel and Beethoven with the distinguished Belgian pianist Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden.
[…] this was a masterful performance by two great artists at the summit of their technical and expressive powers.
Their playing agreed in refinement and insight, and each was elevated by the magnificent generosity of the other. Even their differences were complementary. Dumay, tall and lanky, plays with an almost ferocious intensity, throwing his whole body into his bowing. Vanden Eynden provides him with a poised, tranquil foundation, one carved out of a massive, rich, mahogany sound reminiscent of Egon Petri. It’s a mystery why we don’t hear this extraordinary pianist on this side of the Atlantic more often; he’d deserve his own solo recital at Chamberfest.
Brahms’ Violin Sonata No.3 received a sober, deeply sensitive and tender performance. The outer movements especially showcased Dumay’s buttery, smoky sound and Vanden Eyden’s expansive, breathing-room approach to phrasing.
With its odd, choppy, conversational feel, Debussy’s Impressionist G minor violin sonata demands the closest attention and hairtrigger reaction between the players. Dumay was all supple articulation and playful inventiveness, emphasizing the work’s modernity as well as its hothouse exoticism.
In Ravel’s Tzigane, he showed himself to be the thinking person’s virtuoso, playing with a keen intelligence and attention to Ravel’s astonishing writing that transcended mere showiness. Vanden Eynden was equally poetic and daring, achieving stunning hammered dulcimer effects in the repeated note passages.
Beethoven’s Sonata No.7 was given the full-blooded, old-school romantic treatment. Dumay’s uncanny ability to sound like a singer instead of a string player was particularly effective in the softly moonlit second movement.
For an encore, the duo gave a lush, unabashedly sentimental performance of the slow movement from Richard Strauss’ violin sonata. The audience was appreciative, but far from sold-out. It’s a pity so many people missed such a memorable recital.
Ottawa Citizen, Natasha Gauthier, July 2015