They have very different backgrounds, but Chengdu-born Ning Feng and Spaniard Javier Perianes showed such differences don't matter when it comes to the universal language of music.
The pair began their programme with Mozart's Violin Sonata No18 in G, during which Ning showed fluid string crosses and mastery of the bow. Indeed, his bow arm delivered even the longest notes in swift upward sweeps. Meanwhile, Perianes held a steady accompaniment to support Ning's melody.
Although sometimes piano threatened to swallow the Stradivarius violin's sound, the duo struck a better balance as the show went on. Mozart pieces are demanding when it comes to tempo, yet both musicians played with clarity and kept a strict pace.
Schubert brings out chemistry
The second piece was Beethoven's Violin Sonata No8 in G. Both again displayed their technical skills. Ning showed flawless shifting as his left fingers reached for the ringing high notes that echoed around the concert hall. His exact notes matched Perianes' rumbling piano part.
Next was Schubert's Violin Sonata No1 in D (Sonatina). It was this third piece that was the best display of their chemistry. A key melody repeats in the first movement, which brought the audience to life.
It changes key often, and both musicians played their parts note-perfectly without rushing the other. It showed how well the two artists understood both the piece and each other's role.
An air of sadness sets in in the second movement. The piano sets a relaxing tune, and the violin responds with a higher-pitched melody with a lighter feel.
The movement put Perianes' skill in the spotlight; he delivered well-paced chords and expertly applied the slightest pressure on the keyboard to produce a gentle, sensitive tone.
Perfect harmony after just a day
Ning and Perianes ended with Beethoven's Violin Sonata No1 in D, the best performance of the night. Both artists changed perfectly between staccato notes and smooth phrases. This piece contained an element the previous ones lacked - sudden loud stretches that added energy and power to their duet.
Thunderous applause brought the pair back for an encore, which was slower than the sonatas.
The concert proved both Ning and Perianes are comfortable playing a wide range of music. Most of the time, the keyboard provided a firm base for Ning's strokes. Though the pieces were all sonatas that focused on Ning's violin, Perianes did an amazing job of blending with him.
The concert showed off their sublime skills. It's hard to believe their first rehearsal together was just one day before.
May Huang and Winnie Yip
The recital was organised by Premiere Performances (PPHK). Check out www.pphk.org for more musical events.