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A Concert Fit to be Recorded





The Chamber Music Association’s Salotto Cameristico at Teatro Verdi’s Sala del Ridotto got started in a big way on Monday, April 28, with a concert by the 2007 winner of the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, the Muscovite cellist Sergey Antonov, accompanied by pianist Constantine Finehouse.


Antonov, born in 1983 to a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory and a Bolshoi Theatre cellist, began studying the cello at age five and studied at an advanced level with, among others, the legendary Mstislav Rostropovich, after obtaining his diplomas at Moscow and at Boston’s Longy School.


The program began with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No. 2 for solo cello in D minor, BWV 1008, where Antonov immediately gave proof of his exceptionally high level with a most beautiful, rounded sound, a taut yet at the same time sweet phrasing, and an interpretation that struck the right balance between philological deference to the score and modern sensitivity, reminding us, in certain respects, of the celebrated baroque specialist Jordi Savall for the breadth of its sound.


Then followed Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, based on the famous ballet Pulcinella, where Antonov and Finehouse’s duet work was so masterful as to sound like an entire orchestra. Antonov is a complete artist, both from the point of view of his unimpeachable technique and musically, with a cantabile quality and an energy that merge in a harmonious whole. Furthermore, Finehouse surely does not limit himself to accompanying and expresses an interesting and never predictable personality. Born in Saint Petersburg, he emigrated to the United States at age thirteen and studied at Yale University and at the famous Juilliard School in New York City. He plays in a duo with violinist Philip Ficsor, with whom he has already recorded six CDs.


The second half was entirely dedicated to Sergey Rachmaninov’s Sonata in G minor, op. 19, an essential piece in the cello repertoire, which, with its four broad movements, seems almost a concert with orchestra. And indeed Antonov and Finehouse gave it a concertante treatment, with a truly masterly interpretation. The duo’s phrasings were stirring: Monday’s concert was a concert fit to be recorded.


In conclusion, a great success, followed by two lovely encores, by Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky.

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