Chesapeake Music’s Rising Stars concert Sunday at Easton’s Ebenezer Theater brought a sold-out audience to its feet in appreciation of stellar performances by a pair of 22-year-old graduates of New York’s Juilliard School.
If you missed the concert or just want to re-experience it, you can enjoy a video recording starting Monday, Valentine’s Day, and available through Feb. 21.
Pianist Elliot Wuu and cellist Sterling Elliott presented a technically challenging and musically spellbinding program of Robert Schumman’s Kinderzenen (Scenes from Childhood) and Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy followed after intermission by Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 4, Tchaikovsky’s Adante cantabile and Saint-Sans’ Havanaise.
Wuu performed solo to start the concert, delivering the Schumann with a range of emotion, notably on the exquisite Traumerei, a movement from the piece that exiled Vladimir Horowitz chose for his 1986 Moscow homecoming concert. When played with proper delicacy, as it was Sunday, the suggested dream can be crushingly tender. The Schubert, written to mimic a full orchestral symphony through the piano alone, veers sharply from bombastic to bewilderment.
Elliott, accompanied by Wuu with a light keyboard touch, successfully bridged the duality of Beethoven’s placid passages with ones of torrid tumult on the very next note – beauty and the beast, as it were. Next, the cellist mastered the sweet melancholy typical of Tchaikovsky on phrases you might recognize from one movie score or another. The Saint-Saens finale, written for violin, was adapted for cello by Yo-Yo Ma, a feat Elliott performed in this concert debut. Its melodious refrains bring to mind, in jaunty repetition, a Spanish fiesta.
The concert video is available through Feb. 21 for $15 on chesapeakemusic,org.
Steve Parks is a retired arts writer and critic now living in Easton.