On Stage at Curtis

Student Recital: Diverse Pieces and Players

A student recital of diverse pieces and players. The program:

Milstein: Paganiniana
Zeyu Victor Li, violin
The Ukrainian-born virtuoso Nathan Milstein was one of the great violinists of the 20th century. (He made his American premiere in 1929 with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra) Milstein was also a skilled transcriber and arranger, the most familiar example being his Paganiniana, an arrangement of some of the finger-busting themes of Niccolò Paganini.

Chopin: Scherzo #1 in B minor, Op.20
Vivian Cheng, piano
Frederic Chopin took the scherzo, invented by Beethoven as a movement in larger-scaled works, and gave it a life of its own. This is the first of Chopin’s four free-standing scherzos; it was composed between 1831 and 1832, and dedicated to Thomas Albrecht. While one normally associates scherzos with high spirits, Chopin here imbues it with a strong dose of dark drama.

Janacek: Poh√°dka
Xin Shi, cello; Kate Liu, piano
Poh√°dka is generally translated as “Fairy Tale,” and is based on an epic poem by the Russian author Vasily Zhukovsky entitled The Tale of Tsar Berendyey. Poh√°dka can be heard in the 1988 motion picture The Unbearable Lightness of Being. This performance comes from the 2012 Curtis residency by cellist/teacher Gary Hoffman.

Piazzolla: Le Grand Tango
Tessa Seymour, cello; Amy J. Yang, piano
Of course, the names “Astor Piazzolla” and “Tango” are practically interchangeable. The 20th-century Argentine composer made it his life’s mission to take this sensuous dance style out of the night clubs and bordellos and into the concert hall. His late-period composition, Le Grand Tango, was premiered in New Orleans in 1990 by none other than Mstislav Rostropovich.

Vivaldi: Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos
Jeong-Hyoun Lee & Tessa Seymour, cellos
Curtis Chamber Ensemble

Of the over 500 concertos Vivaldi wrote for various instruments, this is the only one for two cellos. Here, Tessa Seymour returns, joining forces with fellow Curtis cellist Jeong-Hyoun Lee for a typically lyrical and high-spirited Vivaldi work, accompanied by a group of Curtis student players.

Music Word of the Week: Scherzo
“A quick, light movement or piece, often in triple time. Like the minuet, which it replaced in the late 18th century as the traditional third movement of such large-scale forms as the symphony and string quartet, it is generally in ternary form, with a contrasting middle section, or trio.” (from The Oxford Companion to Music)

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