Reviews ...

Music to your ears

... Fine cellist opened Beethoven Society's season

by Jackie Wattenberg

The Beethoven Society began its new season on Sept. 15 with a special recital by a gifted young cellist from Cambridge, Jacques Lee Wood.

Now working on his advanced degree at Yale University, Wood performs throughout New England and New York as a soloist and in chamber works. Last year he opened our season impressively by playing a demanding Unaccompanied Bach Suite.

The cello is not a forceful instrument like the piano or trumpet, but an instrument of warmth and intimacy--these are the qualities that Jacques Wood conveys as he brings out the musical forms of the composer.

The unusual seating for concerts in the First Congregational Church on West Foster brings the audience near to the performers in the Beethoven meetings. "The closer the better!"said Mr. Wood as he warmed up before the audience gathered.

And Mr. Wood expresses his instrument's warmth and intimacy with technical ease. This writer first heard Mr. Wood in Maine last summer performing the painfully beautiful Schubert Quintet in D minor with two cellos. His was the lead cello, and he expressed that work's emotional depth with well-remembered sensitivity.

Here he began with the "Ricercari in D minor" by Domenico Gabrielli, a 17th-century composer. The cellist presented the lines of this notable composer with ease and the composer's distinctive charm and elegance.

He then moved upward to the romantic Schubert, a movement of his Arpeggione Sonata that he played with expressive warmth and sensitivity, qualities that the young Schubert--sadly, there never was an elderly Schubert--demands and deserves.

His final work was a seven-part Variations by Beethoven on an area by Mozart, "Bel Mannern weiche Liebe," an unusual pairing of Beethoven's drama and the varied modes of Mozart, from peaceable legato, quick-turning vivace, lilting allegro--compelling variations confidently expressed by Mr. Wood.

The young pianist, Naoko Sugiyama, gave a dynamic performance of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata. She was fully confident in projecting its power and expansiveness, its rhythmic swings and dynamics. A slender youg woman (and a few months pregnant), she answered the call for "con brio" with plenty of "brio"!

At concert's end, the good-sized audience stood for a standing ovation, very much deserved. A good start for Beethoven's new season.

Reprinted, with permission from the Melrose Free Press, September 26, 2013

October 4, 2013

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