Herald Scotland 30/08/2011
Duo Recital with Alexandre Tharaud Queen's Hall, Edinburgh
In an astonishing display of musicianship and virtuosity at the Queen's Hall yesterday morning, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras demonstrated a comprehensive and multi-faceted mastery of his art. His powers of musical characterisation are limitless. Certainly I do not think I have heard such a probing interpretation of Debussy's flawless Cello Sonata. Queyras unfolded revelation upon revelation in an astoundingly characterised account of the piece that captured every quirky detail of the music, steering flawlessly through its mercurial shifts of mood and soaring through a finale that felt completely liberated from convention.
At the other end of the programme the two musicians were equally at ease with the lightening-fast changes of mood and temperament in Poulenc's wonderful Cello Sonata, typically abrupt in its juxtapositions, and tumbling from rich, soupy sentiment and cartoon-like capers into pure musical acrobatics, all dispatched with dexterity and wit.
At the heart of the programme lay a gripping performance of Kodaly's huge Sonata for solo cello, which had audience, BBC technicians and all manner of critics grinning inanely, gasping in disbelief, and all asking the same question, 'how did you do that?'
The Sonata is a fearsomely intense piece, fuelled by the earthy tang of Hungarian folk music and a wonderful feeling of rhapsody. But it is also immensely sophisticated, as Queyras demonstrated in a fantastic performance of unflinching concentration.
And in its finale, the cellist went off like a rocket, creating an amazing illusion of first two, then three musicians playing simultaneously. How did he do it? Dazzling stuff.