The young Russian-born violinist Philip Quint arrives with impressive credentials, having won first prize in the Carnegie Hall Competition two years ago and made his debut in that august venue last May. He has no trouble getting around on his instrument, or in investing emotional purpose in his playing, as he proved in recital at Pepperdine on Sunday afternoon. Joined by the accomplished pianist Tatiana Goncharova, also from the former USSR, Quint made a smashing impression.
As strong as his playing was, though, the program seemed lop-sided. The first half featured two solid sonatas, Beethoven's Sonata in A, No. 2 and Brahms Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Opus 108, and their well-rounded emotional schemes emerged, solidly realized.
After intermission, Quint turned his focus to showpieces. He rose to the pyrotechnical occasion of Eugene Ysaye's short, fiery Sonata for Solo Violin, Opus No. 3 and Paganini's "La Campanella," Opus 7, both of which duly test a violinist's mettle, full of knuckle-busting double stops, intricate pull-offs and supersonic harmonics.
For his first encore, Quint bowed in the direction of American music, with a version of Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So," teeming with Gypsy flavorings and violinistic bravura. To finish it off with flash, he pulled out another showpiece, Antonio Bazzini's "Dance of the Goblins." Make no mistake: This man can play. A little more substance in the second half would have been nice. Even so, Quint understood that these tour de force pieces celebrate virtuosity and music. He's well acquainted with both.