It was cold and very quiet on the Mall last night, but inside the National Gallery cellist Evelyn Elsing filled the East Garden Court with warmth and excitement. Her performance brought to mind the words of Pablo Casals that the cello is like a beautiful woman who has not grown older but younger and more graceful with time.
Such has been the musical growth of this local artist. The intensity and urgency of her playing remain, now escorted by more controlled dynamics and more careful intonation. For Bach's Suite in E-flat Major for unaccompanied cello there was severity in her phrasing, power in her trills.
In Schubert's "Arpeggione" sonata, accompanied by pianist Nelita True, Elsing found the composer's most romantic voice within the classical structure. The development in the outer movements seemed inevitable, the force of her line proved unstoppable. Despite unclean attacks and pitch problems in the Adagio, it was a very persuasive reading.
Weber's Andante and Rondo found cellist and pianist in a sparkling dialectic. And in Shostakovich's D-minor Sonata, the magic of its repeated patterns and its rhythmic vitality did not for a moment veil the desperation in Shostakovich's voice.