CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Music by two living Argentinian composers formed the heart of the concert by cellist Antonio Lysy and pianist Patricia Hoy for the Charleston Chamber Music Society Saturday night at Christ Church United Methodist.
Lalo Schifrin's long career includes his iconic music for the television series "Mission Impossible," with its theme in a driving quintuple meter.
His "Pampas," written for Lysy, is a musical evocation of the vast Argentinian grasslands. The music was full of long soaring melodies for the cello, braced by tart harmonies. Underlying it all, sometimes in the background, sometimes bursting out, was the rhythmic muscularity that Schifrin seems to infuse in all his work.
Lysy and Hoy played with heartfelt and rhythmically vibrant mastery.
Osvaldo Golijov's compositions are noted for their exotic eclecticism -- odd instrumental combinations, Hebraic scales, other Middle-Eastern gatherings of sounds and rhythms and modernist leavening. His "Omaramor" is less stylistically diffuse, perhaps focused by its portrayal of a legendary tango singer, Carlos Gardel.
The piece, for cello alone, featured an intense lyricism which Lysy delivered with intimately colorful tone. The second section was more animated, bouncy rhythms and multiple stops from which a tango's bass line appears.
That faded into what sounded like a disjointed Bach prelude but with hints of bluesy harmony. The final section let Lysy show some stunning, if quiet, virtuosity: The melody was accompanied by strummed chords played by the middle finger of the left hand while the melody was bowed and the other fingers of the left hand pressed the pitches down on the fingerboard.
Rachmaninoff's Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano is a vast soundscape of a piece through which the cello sings its heart out and the piano weaves dense layers of opulent textures. Lysy and Hoy made it very interesting and did not let it sprawl or fall flat.
The second movement, Allegro scherzando, almost sounds like Schubert's song "Erlking" blown up into an epic. The duo delivered the resulting turbulence with dash.
Hoy's ability to clarify the piano part's complexities, both textural and rhythmic, was key to the performance. That she did it with a light touch that still produced ample tone and rarely covered Lysy's playing was striking. Lysy played with the full-bodied tone that Rachmaninoff's music demands.
The concert opened with a richly detailed account of J.S. Bach's Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Viola da Gamba and Keyboard. Lysy and Hoy ended with an exuberant account of Piazzolla's "Grand Tango."
Lysy was kind enough to inform the moderately-sized audience of the score of the WVU-Texas game before the start of the second half of the program.