(…) Kim Kashkashian's musical personality is exceptionally buoyant, powerful and radiant. The approach she represents is an unconditional identification with the music, and it forces her partners to artistic solutions devoid of compromise. This is paired with a unique tension, the secret of which is the simultaneous effect of a desire to express and introversion. She, and indeed the entire production, was imbued with an incomparable electricity.
A listener, if physically present, can only extract himself from the influence of such a musician's playing with difficulty. Kashkashian's purity and unworldliness draws one into her aura, where one identifies rather than judges. The intensity of my experience was further increased by her miraculously deep, rich viola sound: her ability to make the viola sing and to converse with it. This led to her fashioning the entire work into a unity. In her performance, Bartók's viola concerto came across as being granitically homogenous, large-scale and important. As an encore, we heard her play an unaccompanied Armenian folksong about a bird that cannot find its way home. This also illustrated Kashkashian's talent: that she interpreted this melody with the same significance and musicality as she had Bartók's music – and somehow was able to create a spiritual link between these two worlds.
ZOLTÁN KOCSIS, in contrast to the Slavic concert given a few weeks before, this time assembled an entirely Hungarian program. We heard Dohnányi's Festival Overture in a splendid performance: the brass and strings were superb, and the conductor made as much of the richness of orchestral colour as he did the possibilities implied by the contrapuntal section in which three familiar national Hungarian tunes (one being the National Anthem) are introduced. One virtue of Kocsis's interpretation was that he refrained from repeating a bad convention: I have never heard Egressy's verbunk melody played so fluently and lightly, which despite its Hungarian rhythm sounded more like an Italian bel canto.
The second half of the concert was given over to Bartók's ballet The Wooden Prince. The performance was planned with a responsible, perhaps educative consciousness: the audience could follow the words of the text on a projector screen – which is indispensable in a concert performance of such a work. Since who can remember by memory precisely the context of each theme, emphasis and change of tempo? However the listener, while listening to Zoltán Kocsis and the National Philharmonic Orchestra's production, could still play the role of director of the Prince, Fairy, Princess and Wooden Doll in their heads. From Kocsis's interpretation, I would mention alongside its richness in details of colours and effects, the determination to be pictorial as well as its story telling character. The orchestra, as in the Dohnányi overture, again played with disciplined virtuosity and an expressive and rich sonority: this was a uniform achievement – there was no instrumental section which fell below the joint level of this performance. (April 29th Music Academy)
(Muzsika, 6th June 2002)