During his recital at UC Irvine on Saturday night, Nathaniel Rosen quipped that the intended title of the program, "The Romantic Cello," somehow had been left out of the final printing. He had chosen that heading although, as he pointed out, not all of the pieces were Romantic, and none of them originally was written for the cello. No matter. In the hands of this master, the arrangements all seemed idiomatic, and the single Baroque work--Guiseppe Valentini's Sonata in E--emerged sometimes virtuosic, sometimes introspective and always very personal.
Wielding a tremendous vocabulary of dynamics and tone colors, and partnered with great sensitivity by UCI faculty member Nina Scolnik on piano, the cellist also presented fresh-faced performances of much-traversed works by Franck, Schubert and Schumann.
The two musicians approached Franck's A-major Violin Sonata (as transcribed by Jules Delsart) in fiery accord, eliciting well-deserved applause after the passionate second movement and dovetailing one another in the final Allegretto with faithful agreement in nuance and direction.
Ardor and intensity marked each of the pieces, but Rosen, who teaches at the Manhattan School of Music, conveyed much mystery and delicacy as well. He caressed the Recitativo of Franck's Sonata with a sensual thoughtful quality. He disclosed charm and appealing simplicity in Schubert's "Arpeggione."
Everywhere, this pair created the kind of chamber music--compelling and cogent, packed with intimate meaning and attention to style--that makes one grateful not only for Rosen's and Scolnik's roles in our concert life but also for their involvement in training the next generation of musicians.