Their first offer of the evening was a very romantic piece: Franz Schubert (1797-1828)'s Sonata for violin and piano in A, Op. 165 D574 popularly known as the Grand Duo in Allegro moderato, Scherzo: Presto-Trio, Andantino, Allegro vivace, written by the composer in 1817, a year after his 3 sonatinos, a work in which he boldly explored tonal areas he never previously ventured into. There is in this work a very vivid dialogue between the soft violin and the vigorous the piano, full of abrupt changes of speed,rhythms and major and minor keys.
The second piece was one of Beethoven (1770-1827)'s last sonata: his Sonata for violin and piano No. 10 in G, Op 96 in Allegro moderato, Adagio expressivo, Scherzo: Allegro, Poco allegretto parts of which foreshadows his later string quartets, in which the music becomes rather more reflective, meditative and subtle, less strident, less heroic and less concerned with display of the violinist's virtuosity. The first movement emphasizes dialogue between the violin and the piano, the second is more lyrical, serene, contemplative and the third rather more energetic towards the end and the final starts off softly but becomes more forceful, abruptly alternating between the two modes upon basically different variation of the same theme.
The first piece after the intermission is a piece by a Russian composer who emigrated to America who later went on to write many memorable pieces movie music for Hollywood: Erich Korngold (1897-1957): Suite Much Ado about Nothing Op. 11: The Maiden in the Bridal Chamber, Dogberry and Verges, Marach of the Watch, Scene in the Garden, Masquerade: Hornpipe. This is a piece written by him for a Viennese production of Shakespeare's play of the same name and is typical of programme music with such changes of theme, mood, rhythm as required by the play. Originally it was written for a chamber orchestra but is adapted for the violin and piano much later.
The last piece on the programme was a piece by one of the last romantics Richard Strauss (1864-1949): Sonata for violin and piano in E-flat Op 18 in Allegro, ma non troppo, Improvisation: Andante cantabile, Finale: Andante-Allegro, written by him in 1887-1888 when he fell into love with the woman he was to marry later Pauline de Ahna. The first movement begins a little melancholically but ends up rather more joyful, the second is characterized by its improvisation which gives plenty of scope for the violinist to "sing" (cantabile) whilst the third allows both the violinist and the pianist to showcase their virtuosity as it moves from a slow and meditative start to a joyous ending. In this piece, it's always the the piano which sets the music into motion and some say that it's here that Richard Strauss starts experimenting with the genre of tone poems.
Just as they did when they came to Hong Kong last year, they were a perfect match, each paying attention to the other in their joint production of whatever music it was that were playing at the time. There is a kind of non-verbal understanding between them which makes the use of language superfluous, the slightest nod, a fleeting look, a mere glance and the sounding of a note is good enough. They are a duo made in heaven. The audience could feel it. They responded enthusiastically with their hand claps. As a reward, we were given two popular encore pieces plus one mini etude which showcase their ability in work in other more exotic genres.