Cellist Inbal Segev, pianist Noreen Cassidy-Polera are skilled, but recital feels rushed

March 6

It is fortunate that Inbal Segev is such an excellent cellist; the vibrant playing redeemed a routine and not-thoroughly-prepared program Wednesday at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The Israeli American artist was joined by pianist Noreen Cassidy-Polera (a reliable fixture in many area recitals) in sonatas by Beethoven, Britten and Rachmaninoff.

Segev is blessed with natural abilities, exemplary posture and mechanics, and a sophisticated tonal palette in all registers of the instrument. The sound poured out freely and colorfully, without mannerism or fuss.

That said, the recital was a somewhat slapdash affair. Segev and Cassidy-Polera played well enough together, but it was only by dint of general professionalism; there was little in the way of communication between them, and much of the music-making had a generic feel. Segev’s eyes rarely left her music stand — she didn’t even memorize the Rachmaninoff “Vocalise” — but she forgot to open her Britten music at first, leading to lost notes as she scrambled to fix things.

And then there was the matter of repeats. I don’t know if the artists had a train to catch, but they omitted four of the six repeats the composers put in the music, distorting the structures. Cassidy-Polera, who knows her stuff, was always sensitive to balances and crisply efficient. She brought out some unusual textures in the Beethoven sonata (the Op. 69) but rarely stopped to smell the flowers, even when playing by herself. And I can’t imagine why she declined to use a page-turner; with its fistfuls of notes, the Rachmaninoff sonata’s textures were regularly compromised when she would drop a few to turn her own page.

Again, Segev was well worth hearing, and perhaps I’m just picking nits. Hopefully she will return soon and give us a more thoroughly prepared performance.

Battey is a freelance writer.

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