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CHAMBER REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Friday, March 11, 2022
Amit Peled, cello; Noreen Polera, piano

N. POLERA/A. PELED MARCH 11

STERLING PELED-POLERA SHOSTAKOVICH IN REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 11, 2022

Following an Omicron hiatus, live music returned March 11 when the Redwood Arts Council in its 42nd season presented Amit Peledís cello recital in Occidentalís Performing Arts Center.

Mr. Peledís artistry has been heard often at the RAC, and uniquely the same program was performed at 2 and 7 p.m. Seventy-five attended the earlier concert, reviewed here, the cellist playing from score with the splendid pianist Noreen Polera.

Beginning with a long verbal introduction about Beethoven, Mr. Peled played the C Major Sonata from Op. 102 with a warm low-register sound that carried well in the small hall. The hallís piano lacked brilliance, but Ms. Polera made the most of the songful character of the opening Andante Ė Allegro. The cellist juxtaposed sections of drama and lyrical interludes, widening his vibrato in the episodic Adagio. Unlike the composerís more popular A Major Sonata (Op. 69), the C Major eschews easily grasped themes and its short motives can be elusive. Mr. Peledís intonation and instrument command were consummate.

Following words from the stage on composers Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti, the formerís Op. 6 Sonata was played. The big second theme was opulently performed with the instrumental balance deftly handled. From 1932 and early in Barberís career, the Sonata like the previous Beethoven work defies quick assimilation, but in the Adagio Presto the powerful Precipitato was played brilliantly. Tremolos in the piano part began the finale, and both musicians produced a reading of individuality and importance that received a curiously tepid audience response.

Written in the same period as the Barber, Shostakovichís great Op. 40 D Minor Sonata was the afternoonís highlight. Periods of high drama and contemplation unfolded in the opening Allegro, its sadness effectively portrayed in Mr. Peledís sonorous bass register. Both musicians gave a captivating interpretation to the following movement with cello mute, not ever menacing but at times mysterious. In the Scherzo-like movement the famous frantic writing had Mr. Peledís colorful string slides alongside Ms. Poleraís hammering out treble chords. Bow control here was admirable, leading with the pianistís ascending and ghostly phrases into the finale.

Mr. Peledís arsenal was wide in the final Allegro where the line moved between major and minor, and ample instrumental groans and pizzicato. It was a raucous reading with Ms. Poleraís wild across-the-keyboard scales and stressing playful sarcasm. A standing ovation ensued, a just reaction to the best Sonoma County cello recital in recent years.

Avoiding a routine encore, Mr. Peled told auditors of his long friendship with West County musician Sonia Tubridy (who died in 2021), and in her memory played with his pianist the melting slow movement from Chopinís G Minor Sonata. Along with this reviewer several in the audience had tears of remembrance.