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MUSIC REVIEW

Pairing of Russian violinist and pianist stirs excitement in Jordan Hall

The Siberian violinist Vadim Repin and the Muscovite pianist Nikolai Lugansky left their Jordan Hall audience cheering Saturday night after every piece, and even in the middle of the Cesar Franck Sonata.

Repin is a relatively familiar figure, having appeared as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra here and at Tanglewood, as well as with several visiting orchestras. Lugansky made his American debut at the Newport Festival a decade ago, and not long afterward played a recital in Weston, but this was his official Boston debut.

The two men, born a year apart -- the violinist in 1971, the pianist in 1972 -- make a strong pair. They listen to each other, and both ally tremendous Russian chops with an aristocratic temperament. Neither musician is a showman, and each seems more interested in exploring the personalities of the composers than in making a parade of his own.

Repin, still baby-faced, is technically irreproachable, playing with awesome security and equilibrium. His tone is huge, impeccably tuned, and, with the collaboration of a 1708 Stradivarius, gorgeous; his vibrato is imaginatively varied. The lanky Lugansky looks a little like Kiefer Sutherland and offers a middleweight sonority that never threatens to overwhelm the violin, even with the piano lid all the way up.

The pianist plays more consistently and more confidently than he did a decade ago, and the nonstop difficulties of the piano part in Schubert's Fantasia in C held no terrors for him. He does sometimes treat the right pedal with violence, and in the Franck Sonata it sounded like an added percussion part; he also tends to let the left pedal do the work of creating pianissimo. But there were some lovely sounds and textures and bass notes with a bell-like ring.

Repin was elegant even in gypsy music like the Bartok Rhapsodie, a Brahms Hungarian Dance, and an unidentified encore evoking Central Europe. His Schubert was polished to a perfection that sometimes blinded rather than revealed, but in the Franck, good taste ignited into fire. The novelty was ''Fratres," Arvo Part's popular exercise in creating a meditative space through the medieval rose window of holy minimalism.

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