Cellist Eric Bartlett showed considerable technical dexterity in his concert at the Phillips Collection yesterday afternoon, but he offered more than a display of unbridled virtuosity. Musical considerations reigned supreme, making for a program in which nimble finger work never distracted attention from the sheer tone of his playing, a rich, singing quality that at times was almost breathtaking.
The program included the world premiere of Hugo Weisgall's Arioso and Burlesca for Cello and Piano, a work with a songlike opening part and a scampering, humorous conclusion.
Nuances sparkled from Ce'sar Franck's Sonata in A, a rapturous work written for violin and piano but also performed in transcriptions for cello, flute and other instruments. Bartlett and pianist Elizabeth Wolff were well-balanced in the lilting opening moments, which contain a thematic seed of the entire piece. Contrasts were finally drawn in the second movement: A ruminative cello line, framed by the piano's translucent pedal work, fades into a whisper before the music builds to a furious culmination. Wolff was a capable partner through most of the concert, but at times was overly deferential to Bartlett. The concert began with a fine performance of Sammartini's Sonata in G.