Dark room full of audience members watching a man play the cello in the center of the stage in front of a woman at the piano.

Noah Scott/Nevada Sagebrush
The University of Nevada, Reno hosts a cello rendezvous in the University Arts Building’s Harlan O & Barbara R. Hall Recital Hall.

Cellist Dr. Dmitri Atapine and pianist Dr. Hyeyeon Park performed in the Harlan O & Barbara R. Hall Recital Hall on the night of Sept. 16, bringing an entertaining musical experience to everyone that came. 

Atapine and Park showed a mastery of their respective instruments and served as a wonderful example of two musicians communicating freely on stage. That being said, the most striking show of skill in this concert was, without a doubt, Park and Atapine’s ability to convey the emotional aspects of all of their pieces. 

The musical selections for this shorter recital were “Three Pieces” by Nadia Boulanger, “Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus” by Olivier Messiaen and “Sonata for Piano and Cello, Op. 19” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. 

The emotional expression of Boulanger’s “Three Pieces” included heartfelt sweeping melodies from Atapine and a rain-like harmony from Park inviting the audience to walk hopefully with them in the musical world created for those listening. The audience then listens as the rain clears and they watch the hope become worry as the piece ends in a somber and contemplative tone. Each piece was done with such careful intent that, between the movements of the piece, the hall was completely silent in anticipation of the next.

A man playing the cello creates a rendezvous piece with a woman on the piano in a recital room made of wood walls and floors.

Noah Scott/Nevada Sagebrush
The pianist Hyeyeon Park and the cellist Dmitri Atapine perform a moving rendezvous with the cello and piano music combination.

 In “Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus”, or “Praise to the Eternity of Jesus”, the powerful writing of Messiaen mixed with the explained backstory of the piece was very compelling for the audience. Written in 1941, the piece was composed inside of a Nazi concentration camp. Park and Atapine did a wonderful job of expressing the feelings involved in this deeply emotional piece. The hopeful, yet grave, mood brought to mind the things people know they have no control in making better. As the piece went on, however, an extremely gradual change in the underlying tone made the audience feel the hope from the beginning slowly run out. By the end of the piece, they were left with nothing but the vivid grief and frustration which brought many audience members in tears.

Man plays cello with the background of wood walls in a recital hall.

Noah Scott/Nevada Sagebrush
The cellist Dmitri Atapine plays beautiful recital at UNR.

The Rachmaninoff was a much more technical selection that allowed the musicians to really show their skill on their respective instruments. Yet, even with the added difficulty that comes with this piece, the pair still managed to convey a vivid story over the course of the half-hour long piece, a story of finding out that you truly love someone and, at the end, find the courage to declare it to the world.

Overall, the performance and musicianship shown by the two musicians was impressive. The higher tones of the cello played through very sweeping melodic melodies was nicely balanced by the much more rhythmic piano, but nothing compared to how emotional the performance was. The combined emotional atmosphere created by both Park and Atapine was so powerful and focused that attendees were emotionally drained by the end.

Cameron Tolbert can be reached at jaedynyoung@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.