On Sunday, Oct. 30, Harper Hall welcomed renowned cellist Susan Babini. Accompanied by Associate Professor of Music and pianist Michael Mizrahi, the guest recital made for an exceptional night of music. Disappointingly, the moderately low attendance did not match the caliber of such a fine musician as Babini. Nonetheless, the listeners who were present seemed to thoroughly enjoy the performance.
Most notably, Babini played with a level of passion that truly resonated with the audience. Each note was played with the utmost care, creating a superbly consuming performance. The duo performed Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14,” and also his “Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, op. 19.” The pieces contained somber and slow melodies, as well as impressively fast and intricate sections. Each tempo and style was played with equal conviction; Babini seemed to pour her heart and soul into every melody line.
Oftentimes, the rich, grand sound that filled Harper Hall would suggest that there must have been more than two musicians performing. Having played together for years, Babini and Mizrahi blended extremely well and were very in tune with one another. They seemed to have a secret language—nonverbal communication passed between the musicians in a quick glance or the raise of an eyebrow. For the majority of the recital, Babini held the spotlight. However, every once in a while, a striking piano cadenza would steal the stage, showing off the awe-inspiring skill of Mizrahi.
Between the two Rachmaninoff pieces was Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op. 40.” Babini’s playing told a story, and the audience seemed to yearn for answers during each silence—waiting for the next piece of the tale. In the “Allegro” movement, the melody was often traded back and forth between piano and cello, bantering in a playful manner. This movement in particular had a fine personality that excited the audience.
It was truly a pleasure to enjoy the musicianship of Susan Babini. The extreme passion she showed for each piece was inspiring and breathtaking. It was a shame that more people did not get to experience this phenomenal recital; it was a display of musicianship from a cellist who has dedicated her entire life to her music.