TROY – Canadian-German cellist Johannes Moser gave a superb recital Friday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall as part of the Troy Chromatic Concerts series. It was his second appearance on the series.
He focused on the work of two Russian composers – Sergei Rachmaninoff and Sergei Prokofiev, who composed the substantial works that he and his equally superb pianist Andrei Korobeinikov performed. They’ve recorded much of the program on a disc, “Music for Cello and Piano” (Pentatone), that received a Diapason d’Or.
Moser is that singular artist who can capture the essence of what a composer is trying to say whether it’s a jocular mood or a passionate embrace in as little as a few bars of music. It helps that he has a brilliant technique, a darkly rich tone, and a deeply felt musicianship. But Moser adds an expressive face and body language that adds flavor to his visual appeal. He’s fun to watch.
In contrast, his pianist let the virtuosity of his fingerwork and the intensity of his sound do the talking. Korobeinikov has a considerable pedigree of his own. A multiple prize-winner and frequent soloist, he memorized his parts, although the music was on the stand. He does this, he said after the concert, because his part especially for the Rachmaninoff was so soloistic and similar to the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 2 that there were too many notes to read.
The duo began with an Adagio from Prokofiev’s ballet “Cinderella” (1940s). Moser played with strong nuances, a singing line, and a wide range of dynamics.
The Rachmaninoff Sonata in G minor, Op. 19 (1901) was given a sensational reading. The four movements were wonderfully written for both instruments with all of the composer’s signature haunting lyricism, lushly romantic harmonies, and virtuosic displays. Moser rode a lyrical wave over the piano’s rippling, arpeggiated lines. Phrases were well finished with strong passionate statements. Drama scaled the heights mitigated only by a bit of poetry and song.
They were equally inspired in Rachmininoff’s gorgeous “Vocalise” (1912), a short, spare piece that set the stage for Prokofiev’s angular, ironic Sonata in C Major, Op. 119 (1950). In three movements, it raced through moods and styles from piquant to cavalier, playful to a biting humor. This, too, was marvelously done.
The rapt crowd jumped to its feet cheering and clapping loudly and got two encores: a “Romance” that Alexander Scriabin wrote at 14 originally for French horn and piano but worked fine with cello/piano; and the fourth movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sonata, which was percussive, intense, gritty and brilliant.