We are transported to the vast loneliness of a Russian winter, a space both interior and exterior, a place of torment, where a little sound fills the void, then builds as it gets closer and we find it is an army tramping to its destiny; there is a struggle, a war and then a long period of painfull existence and eventual peace through death. We are listening to Schnittke’s Sonata Number One for Cello and Piano played by Edgar Moreau, a 20 year-old French cellist, and Jessica Xylina Osborne, an American pianist , and we are deep into this engaging piece written in 1978 by one of Russia’s great composers. It is played movingly. Our musicians are revealing the vastness of loneliness, the depth of sorrow, the strength of human suffering.
This recital took place at a packed Merkin Hall on Tuesday, February 2. It was Moreau’s American debut as a Young Concert Artist winner.
The program had opened with Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in G minor that established that these artists were well paired. They played not as soloist and accompanists, but as two soloists playing together, a team. The second piece was Franck’s Sonata in A major where Moreau played with a throaty, resonating voice that was milk and honey, beguiling, rich in texture and moving. This is a great piece of music played with wonderful feeling for its varied voices.
The final piece, an early Chopin Polonaise (Op. 3) was tossed off as a lark. Moreau played without a score. He was at home here, a familiar piece that he had mastered no doubt early in his career, yet he played it with appreciation for every nuance, every phrase. We were treated to an encore that was a fun finale to a “delicious” evening of music which is how Susan Wadsworth described it in her introduction.