The Duo Leroy-Moubarak, a cello/piano couple, played as if they were married, which they are. They exhibited world-class musicianship and original, detailed ideas in a short program of Debussy, Saint-Saens and Franck at the National Gallery on Wednesday.
Cellist Anthony Leroy is immensely gifted; his unerring intonation and fastidious technique allow him to connect notes in long, logical phrases. One might sometimes wish for a bit more expressive self-indulgence in some of the more luscious passages, but his Gallic reserve suited the music well, particularly the Debussy Sonata. Pianist Sandra Moubarak doesn’t always achieve ideal clarity — she can sound a little flustered in the hardest spots and sometimes plays too loud for the cello — but the artistic communication between the two more than makes up for it. Their performances were clearly worked out with the utmost care over many rehearsals; I’ve seldom heard the quicksilver mood changes in the Debussy brought out with such natural unanimity.
In the Franck Sonata, Leroy nailed one big shift after another, at the fullest volume, evoking spontaneous applause after the second movement. Earlier, the “Romance” from the Saint-Saens Sonata No. 2 (they played only the one movement) was delivered with refinement and the same commitment as the two much-greater works that surrounded it.
These excellent young artists belong in higher echelons of the profession, and one hopes to hear them again soon.