Category Archives: Pallotta

First recital with the Pallotta

Had my first recital with the restored Pallotta (pics in recent posts) last night. I’d really practiced my rear end off for this, and it went quite well overall. Russell Wagner, who did the restoration work, came to the recital, and it meant a lot to have him there.

[Update: rereading this, I see I forgot to mention that the cello sounds fantastic, and carried marvelously in the hall. Pallotta is a little-known maker, and we don't know for sure if the label is genuine or not. But that's not such a bad thing. For a player, as opposed to an investor, the best fortune is to find an incredible-sounding instrument that, for reasons like this, is affordable. If I could spend millions of dollars, it would be a different matter. But that might be what it would take to get a better-sounding cello.]

For some crazy reason, I programmed the Schubert “Arpeggione” sonata. This is one of the most awkward pieces in the cello repertoire. It was composed for a “guitar cello” with six strings, and much of it is, well, less than idiomatic for the cello. As “Zambo,” an LA Phil cellist who is a regular poster at Cello Chat recently wrote, “The Schubert is one of those pieces that I periodically swear never to play again, then, forgetting the good reasons for the decision, drag out again.” I never forgot the reasons that prompted me to swear off it, about 20 years ago. Nevertheless, I decided to do it this summer as a stretch. The vast majority of it went very well; a few passages had a finger slip or two. For my first performance of it in 20 years, it was pretty good. Still, I have newfound appreciation for something my former student Kevin Bate mentioned to me on the phone earlier in the week. “I read that some famous French cellist said that the Arpeggione is a piece one should learn but never perform.”

The Arvo Pärt “Spiegel im Spiegel,” which opened the concert, and the Chopin sonata, which concluded the concert, both went well. Only that darned double-stop passage in the Finale of the Chopin gave me problems. There really is no good fingering for it, and I’d experimented with too many fingerings, and changed the one I was going to do the day before the concert, so it was a bit out of tune. Drat!

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