Saturday, December 09, 2006

5 Things about Cellist Efe Baltacigil

The "Distinctive Debut" at Carnegie Hall of Cellist Efe Baltacigil and Pianist Anna Polonsky was Friday night at Weill Recital Hall.

1. The program consisted of four sonatas ranging almost 200 years in music (1741 for the Bach and 1936 for the Saygun) and certainly each were treated with stylistic skill by both performers.

2. Efe uses the cello for a wide range of colors and emotions - I'm stunned as a fellow string player at his wide palette. I'm less thrilled with his way too audible breaths - mind you the audience was a bit noisy with coughing and sniffles too. But seriously at one point early on, I thought there was something wrong with his bow, when I realized, no that is his breath. (Some fine tennis players too make a bit too much noise when returning a serve [think Maria Sharapova] and you get over it...)

3. The choice of an encore - which the audience clearly wanted - was quite touching, the Andante movement of the Bach sonata in memory of a past professor at Curtis, Edward Aldwell. Aldwell was well respected for his scholarship of Bach and this was spot on.

4. Anna Polonsky was stunning and near perfect in the recital - especially moving was the Fantasia of Franck's sonata.

5. Most revealing was the musicality Baltacigil exuded in Ahmet Saygun's Sonata, opus 12. It's not a well known or great work, but in the hands of Efe and Anna, it sparkled like a diamond - with moments of pure joy and passion. I'd liken this particular work to a "Turkish" Debussy.

I'm looking forward to another recital this spring at Carnegie's Weill Hall when Joyce DiDonato makes her debut in Great Singers in Weill: Evenings of Song. You'll remember Joyce is a WSU grad and we had way too much fun in school. It's Thursday March 1st, 2007. One not to miss!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

December 12, 2006
Music Review | Efe Baltacigil
A Young Cellist Who Connects With the Music and His Audience
Efe Baltacigil, a young Turkish cellist, is a personable performer. On Friday night he came onto the stage at Weill Recital Hall with a dark, mottled cello, an agreeable manner and an accompanist named Anna Polonsky, then settled into Bach’s Sonata in G (BWV 1027) like an adept conversationalist — all ears, visibly responding to what the music was telling him.

The music was delightful. Mr. Baltacigil’s tone was warm, rich and a little throaty in a pleasant way, like a good Scotch. Bach lilted and danced; Mr. Baltacigil danced along.

Mr. Baltacigil, who turns 28 this month, is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He won an Avery Fisher Career Grant this year and has garnered other laurels. He is also the associate principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he came to prominence in February 2005 after giving an impromptu recital with the pianist Emanuel Ax when a snowstorm prevented most of the orchestra from getting to the hall for the scheduled concert. The audience cheered, the press raved. It was a good shot of adrenaline for a budding solo career.

On Friday all the conditions seemed right for a fine outing. But Mr. Baltacigil’s uppermost notes weren’t quite right, and the final movement of the Bach sonata kept drifting slightly flat.

Shostakovich’s Sonata in D minor (Op. 40), a wide-ranging, intense piece from 1934, offered Mr. Baltacigil a chance for to dig in and show his stuff. But he remained an engaging conversationalist, following, responsively, the surface contours of the piece. The resulting performance, slightly underpowered, failed to communicate the music’s bite.

Ms. Polonsky, a strong, sure partner, played with fluid clarity. The ear was drawn to the piano as the players began a sonata by Ahmet Adnan Saygun, a 20th-century Turkish composer.

Then came C├ęsar Franck’s Sonata in A (M. 8), in which Mr. Baltacigil appeared to reach the pinnacle of his expressivity. Yet again the tang of faintly sour notes wafted from the emotive phrases. The music finished with excitement but out of tune.

It was a strangely muted showing from a promising musician. Ms. Polonsky, however, is someone to watch.