Playing sounds of light, darkness

On Friday, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott brought the audience to their feet at Santa Monica College's Broad Stage with an elegant display of aggression, tranquility and joy. The concert started with a melancholy yet captivating performance of Arvo Part's "Spiegel im Spiegel." Salerno-Sonnenberg gently played a somber melody as McDermott backed it up with three separate notes of a broken chord, sounding like rain drops gently landing on the floor.

The reflective mood then took a much more aggressive turn with Segei Prokofiev's "Sonata No.1 in F Minor, Op. 80." The immediate back and forth between violin and piano mirrored that of an intense argument with no resolution. While at certain points of the piece, the artists cooled down to a much more relaxed sound, the music would quickly escalate back to turmoil and despair. The choice of music wonderfully displayed the battle between the right and wrong within the human conscience.

After Salerno-Sonnenberg played an exciting piece with Michael Daugherty's "Viva" for solo violin, McDermott elevated the tempo with Charles Wuorinen's "Fourth Piano Sonata."

"I'd like to see you humming this one as you leave," McDermott said jokingly, as her speedy yet precise touch could make you feel like you are in a Bugs Bunny cartoon being chased by Elmer Fudd.

With the show nearly coming to a close, Salerno-Sonnenberg and McDermott performed Gabriel Faure's four-movement "Sonata in A Major, Op. 13." The different parts to the relaxing, and at times fast-paced piece, brought out various emotions reminiscent of both a pleasant day in a spring garden and a much faster-paced city day. Each movement was played with the precise touch that was deserving for each setting.

For the closing of the show, the artists performed a beautiful waltz, which was not listed on the show's program. It was an appropriate curtain call, as it allowed people to properly settle themselves after an evening of darkness and light.

The performance of Salerno-Sonnenberg and McDermott was absolutely magnificent. With every note and every key, McDermott twitched and turned as if it took her every ounce of energy in her body to hit any given note.

Salerno-Sonnenberg paid compliment to McDermott's emotion as she violently stomped away at every angry note and accent. The facial expressions ranged from sad and angry, to hopeful and happy, and right back to bitter and violent.

These performers did not fall into an unauthentic hole of acted performance, but instead felt what they played. Every emotion was left onstage as the two world-class performers left nothing to be desired and held nothing back. With their unparalleled chemistry, they were able to convey feelings of joy and hope as well as anger and bitterness in their performance, embracing light and darkness as a beautiful, romantic music experience.