Cellist Aurora Natola-Ginastera, wife of the brilliant late Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, offered a passionate yet not overly sentimental recital last night at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater. Her performance was remarkably controlled considering the concert was organized as a tribute to her husband, who contributed significantly to 20th-century cello repertoire.
The cellist and pianist Jonathan Feldman made the most of Brahms' lyrical Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38. The tender first and second movements, written in 1862, were treated with complete assurance, the cello line achieving an especially grand tone. In fugal style, the finale showed off the technical brilliance of both performers. Feldman's accompaniment sparkled throughout.
Two works by Ginastera closed the program. "Pampeana No. 2," a colorful description of the Argentine prairie, was written in 1950 specifically for Natola-Ginastera. The Op. 49 Cello Sonata, also composed for her, is an expressionistic virtuoso showpiece from Ginastera's mature style. Both pieces were played splendidly and revealed the intimate acquaintance between musician and score. The depth of the adagio's last statement and the precision of the acrobatic finale were noteworthy.
Opening with a highly romantic arrangement of a Locatelli sonata by the 19th-century cellist Alfredo Piatti, Ginastera seemed a little tangled in the third movement, and the initial instrumental balance was miscalculated. Still the beauty of their playing was evident.