Tim Homfray hears the violinist and her cohorts at Wigmore Hall, London, on 23 December 2019

Isabelle Faust

Isabelle Faust

Isabelle Faust (violin) Wies de Boevé (double bass) Lorenzo Coppola (clarinet) Javier Zafra (bassoon) Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet) Jörgen van Rijen (trombone) Raymond Curfs (drums) Dominique Horwitz (narrator)

This was almost two different concerts sharing an evening. In the first, Isabelle Faust performed Bartók’s Sonata for solo violin with phenomenal technical excellence. In the opening Tempo di ciaccona she demonstrated a great palette of colour and tonal range; there was fury in the fugue, with the bow biting into the string, and gentle, exploratory playing in the Melodia. The final Presto was fleet and occasionally ferocious.

Concert two came after the interval, with as colourful an account of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale as one could ask for. Too much for some, perhaps, with narrator Dominique Horwitz giving a whole-body demonstration of exuberant monologue that almost beat the band. For those who didn’t find it over the top, it was enormous fun, which the players clearly had – Faust had the advantage over her wind-playing colleagues in being able to smile and play at the same time. She, too, was theatrical, and as proficient at scrunching noises as she was at nimble, pinpoint spiccato, grotesque lyricism, dancing up the G string or swinging through a ragtime. Her colleagues were equally colourful. First prize, however, must go to the trumpeter’s mute, a fine grey fedora.