Gerhardt, Osborne Team Neatly

Cellist Alban Gerhardt and pianist Steven Osborne

By ANDREW POWELL
Published: May 19, 2017

RAVENNA — Sometimes a musician just needs a good partner. Cellist Alban Gerhardt and pianist Steven Osborne work magically together but have a habit of starting their recitals apart, as if to establish credentials. So it was April 11 here at the Teatro Alighieri, home of the Ravenna Festival in summer and a base for warmly social chamber-music offerings by Ravenna Musica year-round. Gerhardt ran through Bach’s D-Minor Cello Suite (1718) cursorily, and Osborne, with rather more engagement and much handsome phrasing, offered Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30, Op. 109. But the cello sonatas that followed made for an exceptional recital defined by inspired and mutually responsive playing. The duo’s crisp, neat approach to Beethoven’s D-Major work (1815) pointed up its lyricism and suited its layout, not least the allegro fugato ending. In Debussy’s captivating wartime sonata (1915) they sustained a vibrancy and degrees of ambiguity from start to finish, with whiffs of humor lacing the Sérénade movement and skill on Gerhardt’s part in realizing various timbral tricks. Brahms’s Cello Sonata No. 1 (1865) had great intensity and winningly concluded things before the visitors gave their large crowd an aptly flirtatious reading of Cassadó y Moreu’s Requiebros (1934). A colorful night, and free of expressive exaggeration.

Photo © Benjamin Ealovega

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