Two became three in this remarkable concert of the Sonatas for Violin and Piano of J. S. Bach. Thanks to the composer’s ear and right hand, and to the talented performers Pamela Frank and Stephen Prutsman, we heard what it sounds like for two musicians to play like a trio. These works, much ahead of their time when they were composed, today sound like harbingers of an entire century of exciting developments in music. With her aristocratic bearing and flashing eyeglasses, Frank exuded the confidence of a second-generation virtuoso. Taking just a few moments to tune after the second and the fifth of the six pieces, and with an intermission between the third and the fourth, she played all of Bach’s works in this category.
Although all were memorable, the real surprises lay in the second half of the concert, when the canon forms of the siciliano took over, and then on the final performance, the keyboard was cut loose for an extended solo section. Prutsman, who was a last-minute substitution for the ailing Peter Serkin, did a magnificent job of pacing the music so that the complexities of Bach’s inventions were made easily available to the ear. This concert demonstrated why CAMA’s Masterseries makes such a key contribution to our musical culture.