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Maxim Vengerov plays the Barbican with quiet respect / theartsdesk review

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In 2007 Maxim Vengerov had to withdraw completely from violin playing, and stayed away for four years. He had suffered the after effects of a weight-lifting injury to his shoulder, and needed surgery. But he also described at the time that he felt he needed to re-learn the instrument. If people – like the writer of last night's programme introduction – now refer casually to his "effortless virtuosity", it is clearly something which has been acquired with an intense effort and sense of purpose. 

At the age of 41, the violinist has indeed now reached a delightful ease and naturalness of expression in his playing which is reminiscent of Oistrakh. He is very present as a teacher conducting masterclasses online, where his florid sense of imagery is used to describe the process of bringing character and expression to music. In that context he always appears completely committed and fulfilled. He performs and puts on a show in that role. By contrast, his on-stage persona as recitalist is unflamboyant, bordering on the anti-heroic. Last night he lapped up the increasingly fervent adulation from a full house at the Barbican with quiet, almost withdrawn respect.  

READ THE FULL artsdesk REVIEW