If cellist Neal Lo Monaco had been practicing instead of performing at the Phillips Collection yesterday, and had been overheard, one might have been tempted to remark something like, "Goodness, he really is coming along, isn't he? But Lo Monaco, who studied at Julliard and at Eastman, has been performing extensively for several years, so it was odd that everything on his program sounded like it was in the process of being prepared for performance, each peice at a different stage, but none really ready to go.
The Strauss F Major Sonata was almost there, broad and well articulated, but not yet free of a rather schooled focus on technique. Lo Monaco's tendency to anticipate the beat robbed the music of the power it should have had.
Foss' "Capriccio" remained just this side of ebullient.
The Beethoven and Bach of the first half of the program, however, seemed in an earlier stage of preparation. In both there were still technical hurdles to overcome, balance to achieve in Bach's broken chords and a bite to master in the exposition of the Beethoven Fugue.
The technique in hand, Lo Monaco would then need to strive for intensity and for a sense of concentration. He would need to work at communicating the inner beauty of the Bach and the more extroverted glories of the Beethoven. It would be a big job.
At the piano, Marilyn Thompson accompanied stylishly.