by Daniel Hathaway
The globetrotting British cellist Steven Isserlis recently passed through Northeast Ohio twice in eight days, performing with Kyrill Gerstein on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society Series on January 29 (our review appears here) and joining his fellow Oberlin alumnus Jeremy Denk on the Oberlin Artist Recital Series in Finney Chapel on February 5 (popping off to Chicago and New York for concerts and masterclasses in between). What’s even better than hearing Isserlis perform twice on successive Tuesdays is hearing him play two very different, superbly constructed programs with two equally fine partners.
In Cleveland, Isserlis built his program around both of Brahms’s sonatas, separated by Liszt’s own arrangements of early songs and prefaced by Bartók’s First Rhapsody and Busoni’s Finnish folk song variations. In Oberlin, he drew back the curtains on what could have been a typical chamber music concert in Paris during the Belle époque — that brief cultural golden age between the 1870s and the first World War — including two out-of-period works that fit right into the spirit of the occasion. [Read more…]