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January 24, 2011

WPAS presents Amit Peled in impressive Kennedy Center recital debut

Amit Peled is one of Baltimore's best-kept musical secrets.

The Israeli-born cellist with the burnished tone, eloquent phrasing and great hair has been a Peabody Institute faculty member for nearly a decade and has been steadily building an international presence. He doesn't get all that much attention locally, though.

I think he might have played more concerts in Frederick at that cool Downtown Piano Works than within our city's limits (he will be back there on Wednesday for a Brahms program with violinist Ilya Kaler and pianist Alon Goldstein). There was that gig with the BSO for Beethoven's Triple Concerto last season, but I still feel like the cellist is still somewhat under-exposed here.

Meanwhile, Peled got some valuable attention in D.C. over the weekend, playing his Kennedy Center recital debut Sunday afternoon under the auspices of the Washington Performing Arts Society. It was an impressive performance.

The afternoon would have been memorable if only for Peled's incisive account of

Britten's Suite No. 3 for unaccompanied cello. Composer for Rostropovich, the score has elements of some Russian folks songs running beneath the surface of its nine short, intricately woven movements. By the time those songs appear at the very end, the personal nature of the music is driven home in remarkable, affecting fashion.

The suite is not concerned so much with exploiting the instrument's technical elements as with digging into the cello's natural soulfulness. Peled's exceptional clarity of articulation allowed the work's brilliant construction to be easily savored, while his richness of expression uncovered layers of meaning beneath the notes. The audience in the Terrace Theater seemed unusually quiet throughout and held onto that quiet for quite a while after the last sound faded.

For the rest of the recital, the cellist had the fluent, sensitive collaboration of pianist Eli Kalman in sonatas by Beethoven (an eloquent account of No. 3 in A major) and Eccles; Schumann's "Fantasiestuke" (the playing from both men was alive with character); and the vivid "Five Pieces on Folk Themes" by Sulkhan Tsintsadze (the lullaby "Nana" emerged with particular warmth).

Peled has a lot going for him, including a disarming way of speaking to the audience. Not yet out of his 30s, the cellist surely has a long, successful career ahead of him.


Posted by Tim Smith at 4:45 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes


Frederick LOVES Amit Peled.......he has a home in our hearts........

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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