On Thursday night, cellist Ohad Bar-David and pianist Keiko Sato played a substantial and varied recital in Lang Concert Hall. The program included sonatas for cello and piano by Brahms and Shostakovich, Schumann’s “Five Pieces the the Folk Style,” op. 102, and short pieces by Granados and Cassado.
The Schumann pieces were appealingly tuneful and sometimes showed the odd metric divisions of their folk inspiration. Though perhaps sometimes lacking in the compact emotional precision of Schumann’s best small-scale works, they were winningly performed here. Their reliance on the different registers of the cello ideally suited Bar-David’s tone, deep and rich in its lower notes and silvery in the higher registers.
Brahm’s Sonata in e minor, op. 38 is an unusual piece in that it doesn’t really have a slow movement. Bar-David and Sato played the turbulent music with the intensity and commitment it demanded.
After intermission came Shostakovich’s Sonata in d minor, op. 40. Bar-David described the piece as severe, but compared to most of the composer’s work, it seemed surprisingly peaceful and at times almost happy (with the definite exception of a tense episode in the first movement). Its last movement was the concert’s fastest and most athletic piece, and gave Sato a star moment. For most of the concert she seemed somewhat in Bar-David’s shadow both in dynamics and dramatic focus.
The concert closed with two short and light Spanish pieces, which Bar-David and Sato played with a verve and spontaneity exceeding that of most of the more serious works.