Cellist Johannes Moser and pianist Benjamin Hochman gave a brilliantly executed recital Sunday afternoon at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
Neither musician is well known yet, but their credentials indicate that will change, and probably very soon. Moser, a 29-year-old German who has won several competitions, including the 2002 Tchaikovsky International Cello Competition, and Hochman, a 20-something Israeli who has already accrued numerous solo appearances with major U.S. orchestras and prestigious chamber music festivals, were well matched. Both played with great intelligence and emotional commitment, a technical clarity that glistened, and a sensibility that impressed with its scope, intensity and imaginative depths.
They were also collaborators who kept a running dialogue that never slackened. Interestingly, when they took their bows, there was a polite restraint between them.
They began with Mendelssohn’s joyous Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 58 (1843). The duo immediately impressed with their buoyant energy and freshness. Balances were a bit off for about a page of music before Hochman adjusted to a comfortable level. Moser played with exact pitch and great clarity of articulation, and phrased his lines as if he were speaking. Hochman had lovely light fingers and a light pedal in a very substantial part.
Color was everywhere. They breathed together. Their faces expressed their involvement. The music was as frothy and delicate as spun sugar.
In Britten’s Sonata in C Major, Op. 65 (1961), the duo had dynamic levels which ranged from barely there to full blowout. Moser’s bowing was exceptionally tight. The piece, which was written for Rostropovich, shows how well Britten caught the cellist’s impish personality.
There were six abstract movements like rooms within a strong structure in which Britten used gestures, silence, pizzicato, bowing close to the bridge for a raspy sound and some beautiful lyricism sprinkled about. The players were driving and technically brilliant.
Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 in E minor (1862) was sheer magic with seamless phrasing and crystalline technique.
The encore, an arrangement of a Brahms song, “Sapphische Ode,” was gorgeous. Moser’s tone was voluptuous.