It's tempting to call the recital by cellist Anner Bylsma and pianist Malcolm Bilson in Schoenberg Hall, UCLA, on Saturday a "master class." But one that could never have taken place in a classroom.
The program of works from around the turn--the 18th to the 19th--of the century provided lesson after lesson in the art of performers communicating with each other and with their audience, whose growing enthusiasm spurred the two to ever greater interpretive daring.
The well-chosen program started with the esoterica of a duo Sonata in D minor by Joseph Wolfl (1773-1812), whose considerable substance Bylsma conveyed despite intonational mishaps, and a pair of gravely dignified etudes for solo cello by Jean-Louis Duport, executed with unflagging command and intensity.
It was profoundly pleasing to have Beethoven's two early sonatas, Opus 5, for cello and piano presented not as warm-ups but as the big, deep works they are.
Bilson seemed to be inspired by his partner to thrilling feats of dexterity--the amount of note-spillage in a Bilson recital remains considerable, but the result of overenthusiasm rather than mechanical shortcomings--which carried over as well into his solo showpiece, Mozart's own delectably clattery piano version of his "Abduction From the Seraglio" overture.