Cellist Leslie Parnas and pianist Grant Johannesen, two of the country's most respected instrumentalists, joined together in a recital for the first time last night, at the University of Maryland.
They were called in on short notice to replace cellist Aurora Natolo-Ginastera and pianist Santiago Rodriguez at the Center of Adult Education.
They are a strong combination--characterized by finesse and style, without the all-out force we heard from Rostropovich and Serkin at the Kennedy Center last summer.
That is not at all to say, though, that Parnas-Johannesen are bland. But their best-meshed moments were in places like the entrancing trio in three-quarter time in the middle of the Chopin cello sonata's scherzo. The lilt was delectable, as was the delicacy of tone.
And in the same sonata's grave largo, Parnas, who is best known here as part of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, was producing a very rich tone and was phrasing with much intensity.
And in the encore, that desolate slow movement from the Brahms F major sonata, Parnas was maneuvering the wide range of legato and pizzicati with considerable intensity. Johannesen, alas, was not quite matching it.
There was also a fine performance of the seldom-played Hindemith sonata (1948). A lengthy work, it is one of his best pieces of chamber music with a striking range of moods and timbres. The closing passacaglia is really quite brilliant.
As well, there was one of the late Beethoven sonatas, but this listener and about 40 to 50 others missed much of it because we followed the instructions to arrive at 8:30, which was printed on all the tickets. The time had been changed to 8 without many being informed of it.