On Stage at Curtis

Graduation Recital by Violinist Nigel Armstrong

A graduation recital by violinist Nigel Armstrong. Nigel hails from Sonoma, California, and studied at Curtis with Shmuel Ashkenazi and Arnold Steinhardt. He was a finalist at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition. His program:

Bach: Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Bach composed a set of six works for unaccompanied violin – 3 sonatas and 3 partitas. This second “Partita” (see below for definition) dates from 1717 to 1723; it has been suggested that Bach wrote the work as a tribute to his late wife Maria Barbara, but that theory is unproven. All the partitas are constructed as short dance movements, in this case, concluding with a longer “ciaccona,” considered one of the monuments of the violin literature. The movement titles: Allemanda; Corrente; Sarabanda; Giga; Ciaccona.

Bartók; Sonata for Solo Violin
This sonata is the result of a commission Bela Bartók received from Yehudi Menuhin in 1943. He spent several months working on it while battling leukemia. Bartók was greatly influenced by Bach’s sonatas and partitas, so it should be no surprise that this sonata begins with a tempo di ciaconna, abounding with Hungarian folk melodies. The remaining movements are marked: Fuga: Risoluto, non troppo vivo; Melodia: Adagio; and Presto.

Music Word of the Week: Ciaconna (or Chaconne)
“…a form of continuous variation, similar to the passacaglia, which became popular during the Baroque era; in the 20th century the term was sometimes used to denote an instrumental piece of a particularly austere character using ground-bass variations.” (from The Oxford Companion to Music)

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