A dream matchup of Janine Jansen with Alexander Gavrylyuk spoiled the audience at the Concertgebouw in this must-hear collaboration. On Jansen's Dutch turf, Gavrylyuk's popularity might not equal hers, but as a prominent fixture in the Meesterpianisten series, he has become a household name on the Dutch music scene. Tonight’s programme included sonatas from Brahms, Prokofiev, and Poulenc with a sublime rendition of Szymanowski’s Trois Mythes, a nucleus in Jansen’s repertoire. At the top of their game, this duo evolved into a spectacular symbiotic musical organism.

© Harald Hoffmann | Decca
© Harald Hoffmann | Decca
They opened with Poulenc’s Sonata for violin and piano. Here were two superstars, but at first they did not connect. With minimal physical communication, Jansen and Gavrylyuk instead focused on the score in front of them. Individually, they performed superlatively, but compared to their intense dances later, this Poulenc missed chemistry. As they energized the piece, the duo lacked an emotional dynamic. Though when with shocking expression, they emphatically punctuated Poulenc’s wailing final chords, the two did deliver a memorable and surprising kick to the finale.

Then everything changed with the Brahms, when Jansen and Gavrylyuk generated their first fiery intensity. Throughout the Violin Sonata No.3 in D minor, they sustained the gripping suspense of Brahms’ developments. One of Jansen’s high points occurred in the Adagio: with fiery expression she enflamed the Romantic passages, captivating the listener as she made her violin sing. She communicated with Gavrylyuk in charged glances, bending through her knees and nodding her head forward. With an eagerness glimmering in his eyes, his youthful excitement and highly charged concentration yielded an audacious passion. An unforgettable Brahms.

After the break, they returned for a mesmerising rendition of Szymanowski’s Trois Mythes. Based on Greek lore, the Polish composer did not create a musical programme, instead he wanted to reflect these myths’ complete beauty through his impressionistic style. With the illusion of perfect ease, Ms. Jansen tackled the highly challenging technicalities. She accentuated the colours of Szymanowski's diffuse palette, resulting in an intoxicating musical melange. Having heard her perform it on several occasions, I found tonight’s rendition with Gavrylyuk her most haunting and memorable.

In Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Gavrylyuk took over the spotlight and demonstrated his pianistic wizardry. Initially written for flute and piano, David Oistrakh later requested a version for violin. With his fast runs, rolling momentum, and addictive pulse, Gavrylyuk’s craftsmanship impressed. His infectious optimism energised the upbeat opening Moderato. When he applied the pedal in powerful passages, his effect was elegantly nuanced.

In the Andante, Gavrylyuk elucidated the Soviet’s jazzy vibes. Through his exhilarating virtuosity, the pianist got the most out this Prokofiev. The thrilling ballet-esque passages provided highpoints of the evening. In a musical dance, Mr. Gavrylyuk led Ms. Jansen through Prokofiev’s freewheeling currents, tempestuous clashes, and rollicking rhythms.

In the final movement, their symbiosis culminated in electrifying intensity. Gavrylyuk’s youthful enthusiasm even elicited a few caprioles from Ms. Jansen. Prokofiev’s music doesn’t quickly sweep you off your feet, but with this chemistry it was impossible for the audience not to get carried away.