Lambert Orkis and David Hardy (photo by Margaret Ingoldsby Schulman)
As Orkis remarked in verbal program notes, Beethoven was the first composer to write for cello and piano alone, tactfully writing the Sonata in F (op. 5, no. 1) for King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, who was apparently a decent cellist. Hardy performed on a gut-stringed replica of his usual 1694 Testore instrument, made in 2000 by his father. Beethoven clearly simplified the cello part to allow the king to save face, while the piano part is exceedingly busy. Even if Orkis faced technical challenges with the instrument, this was an opportunity for many to hear the dynamic context of a fortepiano with a quick, light action, supremely quiet pianissimos with the moderator, and soundboard resembling more a snare drum than a large, resonant piece of wood. Hardy never seemed to achieve the gorgeously robust tone he is known for in the NSO, leading one to wonder if the instrument was flawed or if Hardy, in an attempt at historically informed performance (HIP) practice, just underplayed. However, this would not explain Hardy’s intonation issues, lack of varieties of tone, and narrow dynamic range.
Mark J. Estren, A Winning Time for All In a Beethoven Marathon (Washington Post, February 17)
The next chamber music concert at the Kennedy Center will feature the Post-Classical Ensemble with soprano Harolyn Blackwell, next Sunday (March 1, 7:30 pm).