Cellist Sebastian Baverstam opened the new concert season of the Jamestown Concert Assn., Friday evening, with a tour de force recital at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
The young artist is a veteran performer, and although he is only 23 years old, he demonstrates both the technique and the passionate interpretation of a man many years his senior.
Baverstam's accompanist was pianist Constantine Finehouse. He set the tone for the evening's program with a beautifully delineated, powerful and emotional rendering of Chopin's ''Polonaise-Fantasie in A-flat Major.''
The cellist then performed, unaccompanied, Zoltan Kodaly's ''Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8,'' a piece which served as a milestone in cello literature, for its introduction of technical advances never before demanded. Baverstam zipped through them as though he were practicing on simple scales, and the result was thrilling.
The first half of the program ended with a wonderfully melodic sonata by Franz Schubert. Baverstam gave occasional informative but never pedantic comments to the audience, such as mentioning at this point in his program that the Sonata in A Minor was written for Arpeggione, a cello-like instrument which was slightly smaller and had frets. He said that in Schubert's day, it was viewed as the ''next big thing,'' which would soon be the universally accepted low-pitched string instrument, so the composer had created this piece for it, and now most people have only even heard of the arpeggione because of this sonata.
Following a rather long intermission, the men returned to conclude with a sonata by Cesar Franck, which we were told was composed to be played on violin, but had been transcribed for nearly every extant instrument. I have heard the work described as an impersonation of a beautiful woman, drawing the listener into a sweet love for it with a light, legere quality, then intensifying and driving him to soul-searching and passionate expression, then finally ending with a truly happy conclusion.
The darker sound of the cello spoils the analogy a bit, but the performance was spot-on for the analysis.
The next concert in the 2011-12 concert series of JCA will be Nov. 11, when pianist Robert Plano will perform, again at St. Luke's Church.