On Wednesday night, the La Maison Française hosted a concert by cellist Renaud Déjardin and his pianist partner Márta Gődény. Last August, I went to the embassy to hear some of the qualifying round for the Rostropovich Cello Competition. I did not hear Mr. Déjardin that day, but he did well in the competition in Paris in November, receiving fifth prize. (All six finalists chose to play the same concerto in the final round, the Shostakovich op. 107, and an 18-year-old named Marie-Elizabeth Hecker impressed the jury the most.) Déjardin received a Mention, not a prize but an honor, in the 1997 competition, too.
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Bohuslav Martinů, Sonatas for Cello and Piano, Renaud Déjardin and Márta Gődény (released on September 1, 2005)
The duo opened with another strong performance, of the brief cello sonata by Claude Debussy. Composed in 1915, this sonata may have been a point of inspiration for the later Martinů work, as its structure and character are similar. Here also Gődény's strength as a colorist served her well. At times, especially for a former student of Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Conservatoire de Paris, she was almost too gentle, too self-effacing. Similarly, Déjardin has a soaring sense of line, but although he is always a self-assured player, he lacked an element of daring at times. Still, this combination proves a strength at moments like the opening of the second-movement Sérénade, with the cello's evocation of a plucked lute and the piano's delicate shading.
Charles T. Downey, Greek Passion in London (October 1, 2004)
Jens F. Laurson and Charles T. Downey, Beaux Arts Trio at the National Gallery (October 10, 2005)
Jens F. Laurson, Martinů Makes Happy (November 8, 2005)
Charles T. Downey, Martinů's Juliette in Paris (February 25, 2006)
Charles T. Downey, Jerusalem Symphony at Strathmore (March 1, 2006)
The final concert of classical music at La Maison Française this season will feature the Klavier Trio Amsterdam next Tuesday (May 30, 7:30 pm). Also, American cellist Alan Toda-Ambaras, who was 14 years old when he received the Prix du meilleur espoir for best young cellist in this year's Rostropovich Competition (he was the youngest player this year), will play here in Washington in the fall. For this concert at Strathmore next winter (January 13, 7:30 pm), he will give a joint recital with violinist Daniel Austrich.