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DRAMATIC SHOSTAKOVICH SONATA HIGHLIGHTS BOSCO-GABRIELSON CONCERT
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Sunday, October 9, 2022
CHAMBER REVIEW
Occidental Center for the Arts / Sunday, October 9, 2022
Carol Anne Bosco, cello; Abby Gabrielson, piano

Cellist Carol Ann Bosco

DRAMATIC SHOSTAKOVICH SONATA HIGHLIGHTS BOSCO-GABRIELSON CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 9, 2022


Redwood Arts Council’s long running concert series opened its new season Oct. 9 with a beguiling concert of music for cello and piano in the Occidental Center for the Performing Arts.

After considerable audience education talk from the stage, Washington D. C.-based cellist Carol Ann Bosco joined Sonoma County pianist Abbie Gabrielson to play Mendelssohn’s charming Song Without Words, Op. 109. It’s just over four minutes and showed many of the performance characteristics that would be encountered during the afternoon – warm instrumental interplay, some cello notes not taken cleanly, and patrician phrasing.

It's a work with the composer’s earlier Op.17 Variations that has all the enchantment of Mendelssohn’s many sets of lieder for solo piano.

Two sets of three pieces came next, by Nadia and Lili Boulanger, and both were possibly North Coast premieres. The first was Nadia’s atmospheric (Modéré) work that resolved warmly at the end; the second (San Vitesse et à l’aise) in canon with a banal theme played in a folk manner; and the finale (Vite et nerveusement rhythmé) was akin to Prokofiev with Ms. Bosco’s rapid fingerboard work. All were played from score.

Lili Boulanger’s piano pieces have evocative titles – In and Old Garden, In a Bright Garden and Procession) – and Ms. Gabrielson played each without score and making the most of the hall’s well-voiced round piano sound. She played each with individuality – the first with bass rumbles and descending harmonics; the improvisatory second with a pedal point bass note and three lovely bell-like notes at the end; and the final work that was reminiscent of Poulenc and Chaminade.

The concert ended with Shostakovich’s D Minor Sonata, Op. 40, performed recently on the same stage with Occidental’s favorite cellist Amit Peled. Prefaced with a long and customary description of the composer’s relationship with Soviet hierarchy, the duo played the opening Allegro with a bit of understatement, the lack of cello articulation in past passages offset by a capture of familiar Shostakovich morose sound with slow vibrato, and a change to musical drama. There were echoes of the contemporary music in the composer’s first Piano Concerto from 1933.

In the following Scherzo there was acerbic playing with cello slides and a peasant theme, with the well-known two bottom piano notes resounding. Vibrato was again wide in the lugubrious Largo, Ms. Bosco’s intonation accurate at the top range, with Ms. Gabrielson playing concise simple chords. The interpretation had depth and concentration.

Humor and dance hall development characterized the finale, and the piano line never covered the cello. It was vivacious playing of the movement that closed a demanding Sonata performance of 25 minutes.

The duo received a standing ovation and no encore was offered.