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Symphony
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Chamber
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Chamber
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Recital
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CHAMBER REVIEW

H. McCarroll and M. Scott

CELLO-PIANO DUO IN HUSKY SPRING LAKE VILLAGE PROGRAM

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Two thirds of the way through a stimulating 22-concert season the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series Sept. 5 presented two splendid cello sonatas before 110 people in the Village’s Montgomery auditorium.

A duo for more than a decade, East Bay musicians cellist Monica Scott and pianist Hadley McCarroll began with Shostakovich’s D Minor Sonata, Op. 40, in a performance that captured the composer’s contrasts of contemplation and drama. Playing from score, as they did throughout, the duo’s sound carried well in the acoustically bright hall, and they chose in the opening allegro a judicious tempo that continued into the slow march with a hint of menace. Ms. Scott wove a lovely threnody above the piano, though often the tone was harsh. But this music supports this often-raw string sound. A slower than expected tempo continued into the scherzo, giving the music a little less frenzy and more air but lacking sonic punch.

Ms. Scott’s best playing came in the wonderful largo with rich bottom-end register sonority. There was a beguiling ascending phrase at the end, followed by a descending one with thirds to close. The finale (allegro) was well played and Ms. McCarroll’s fast scales half pedaled and clear. A witty reading of the 1934 work.

Beethoven’s short C Major Sonata (Op. 102, No. 1) doesn’t have the impact of the Shostakovich, or the Ginastera that followed, but in two extended movements the two instruments were treated with consummate beauty. The stately introductory andante was lovely, the syncopated rhythms robust, though Ms. McCarroll’s trills were often muddy. The extended adagio allegro vivace again had a quiet beginning, leading to sharp thematic contrasts and phrasing that was “cat and mouse.” The duo’s playing in this inventive movement caught the composer’s humor and joy and, though often subtle, was for me the recital’s highlight.

Ginastera’s early music, especially the Piano Sonata and the Danzas Argentinas, are never subtle and never lacking in energy. The Op. 21, No. 2, Pampeanas is popular with cellists, was written in 1951, and is in three large sections. It’s a short work that featured Ms. Scott’s long, wailing high-register phrases and efficient bow control, with double stops. The ostinato piano part supported Ms. Scott’s virtuosic and propulsive playing, especially in fast repeated notes. The duo made the thick textures and frantic momentum palpable, and received a loud ovation.

No encore was played.

The Shostakovich Sonata, with Fauré’s First Sonata, will be played Sept. 9 in a recital in the Occidental Performing Arts Center in Occidental.