Simon Trpceski Archives - Vancouver Recital Society

Stay Tuned!

Sign up to get free in-depth coverage on up and coming artist and more!

×

PROGRAM NOTES: DANIEL MÜLLER-SCHOTT & SIMON TRPČESKI


Ludwig van Beethoven


Sonata for cello & piano in C major, Op. 102, No. 1

Those who think of sonata form as a well-organized dinner plate – with the red meat in one corner, the mashed potatoes stationed opposite, and peas or broccoli distributed neatly over the remaining space – might be forgiven for thinking that Beethoven was playing with his food in composing this sonata, so irregular are its formal outlines and so free its inner patterns of musical thought.

But there is nothing childish about it. Along with the preceding Op. 101 piano sonata, it marks the beginning
of the composer’s late period, a period in which his deafness moved him to express his thoughts in ever more concentrated form, yet with ever greater freedom. The world of late Beethoven is a world of contrapuntal textures, fluid formal boundaries, and not infrequently of ear-filling trills. It is the willful inner world of a composer who has retreated from the realm of sound, but with his love of that realm intact.

The first noticeable irregularity in this sonata is that it only features two movements, each of which begins with a slow introduction. Opening a sonata movement with a slow introduction is not an innovation on Beethoven’s part: Haydn had used it at the start of his Symphony No. 103 in E♭, as had Beethoven himself in his Pathétique Sonata, Op. 13. But here its use is different. Instead of portentously building up a sense of anticipation for the section that will follow, the slow introduction of this work’s first movement seems blissfully happy to merely meditate over the main motives that will recur throughout the sonata as a whole: a series of stepwise-falling fourths and a faster stepwise ascent of the same interval, presented by the solo cello at the outset. With a dynamic marking of piano and the expressive indications teneramente, dolce cantabile, this slow introduction is a virtual love-duet between piano and cello.

The end of this cheek-to-cheek slow-dancing in the placid key of C major comes all the more suddenly, then, when the sonata movement begins in earnest – in the key of A minor, the relative minor. An opening theme in octaves and unisons between the piano and cello opens the exposition, but expends its fury after two statements, stopping abruptly to allow a musical thought of smaller range, the second theme, to intervene. This abruptness is a characteristic feature of the movement. Beethoven feels no real need to create transitions between sections: he merely stops, as if a new thought has occurred to him, and goes off in a new direction after a pause. Although the exposition is repeated, that is perhaps the most “normal” feature of this movement, which has a compressed development section and a recapitulation which seems ready to luxuriate in a lingering coda – but no, it decides not to after all, and puts a quick end to the discussion.

The slow introduction that opens the second movement
is more a serious affair, introspective and reflective, as if gazing at the stars. At first, the piano and cello seem to be in another duet, trading florid phrases back and forth, but then each retreats to its own corner, the cello ruminating deep in the bass as the piano explores ever higher terrain above. Bringing them back together is the opening theme of the first movement, recalled in a mood so lyrical that it dissolves into a dreamy triple trill before the perky theme of the Allegro vivace bursts its bubble.

This theme, an accelerated version of the rising stepwise fourths of the first movement, is uniquely Beethovenian in character. It is both a motivic cell that animates serious discussion in the fugato of the development section, and a toy-like bauble that gets tossed out playfully in a game of tag between the instruments, made all the more humorously dramatic by the numerous expectant pauses that punctuate these mischievous exchanges.

 

Johannes Brahms


Sonata for cello & piano, Op. 99

Brahms’ second cello sonata is a ‘meaty’ work, the kind that Brahms no doubt would have wanted to play when he was studying the cello earnestly as a young music student in Hamburg. Designed expansively in four movements in the Beethovenian manner, with a third movement scherzo, it combines the impetuous spirit of the younger Brahms with the generous latherings of lyricism that characterize his mature style.

This sonata is a product of Brahms’ later years, a time when his life followed a predictable seasonal schedule. In the summer he would retire to the countryside to compose, then revise and correct his works for publication during
the winter season. Waiting eagerly to play his new works when he returned home to Vienna each autumn were
the members of the Joachim Quartet, headed by his
friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. The F major sonata was composed in the summer of 1886, during a summer sojourn in the Swiss countryside, and dedicated to Robert Hausmann (1852-1909), cellist in the Joachim Quartet – the same cellist for whom, with Joachim, he wrote the Double Concerto in A minor the following year.

The orchestral sweep of the sonata’s opening, with its rich carpet of tremolando figuration in the piano supporting bold fanfares in the cello line, sets it immediately apart from the subdued opening of Brahms’ previous cello sonata, the Sonata in E minor, Op. 38. This passionate but fragmented first theme in the cello seems to be shouting important news in all directions, like a town crier, while the second theme, announced by the piano, is a more smoothly connected melody. The tremolo figuration of the opening is not just sonic “filler”: it functions as a stabilizing counterfoil to the disjointed character of the sweeping opening theme, and plays a major role at the opening of the development section as well. Especially noteworthy in this movement is the magical passage that prepares the recapitulation, a passage in which time seems to stands still as the cello plays tremolo while the piano enacts great leaps from the bottom of the keyboard to the top.

The Adagio affetuoso second movement in simple ternary form carries the major emotional weight of this work. It opens with a procession-like tune in the piano, setting the scene for the cello to emerge in full-throated glory, singing out a richly chromatic but ever-so-lyrical melody that shows off the instrument to advantage in its high range. A middle section in the minor mode gives the piano a place in the sun as well, but the pool of light on the stage in this movement goes to the cello, which returns in the third section to wax lyrical once again, enveloped by an even more lavishly decorative piano accompaniment.

If the second movement belongs to the cello, the propulsive energy of the third movement, a scherzo marked Allegro passionato, is driven by strongly assertive piano writing. Cresting and subsiding in waves of sound, the opening section builds up sound resonance through the frequent use of pedal tones in the bass combined with a constant chatter of eighth-note motion above. Adding to the intensity of effect are the typical Brahmsian techniques of 2-against-3 rhythms (i.e.: “hemiola”), and syncopations that recall the opening of the scherzo from the composer’s Quintet in F minor. Where the cello emerges more clearly is in the trio middle section, in which it hums a wistful melody in simple note values. While this tune seems folk- like in its simplicity, a number of odd melodic turns indicate that it has more on its mind than it is letting on.

The sonata ends with a fourth movement rondo much in the relaxed vein of the last movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B♭, Op. 83. Gentle and tuneful, its principal theme alternates with a short series of contrasting episodes, none of which spoil the overall mood of contentment that characterizes the movement as a whole.

 

Frédéric Chopin


Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, Op. 65

Chopin’s name is so intimately linked with the repertoire of the piano that it is difficult to imagine him writing for any other instrument. And yet he appears to have had a sincere appreciation for the sound and musical qualities of the cello. Not only do his works often feature piano textures with left-hand countermelodies in the cello’s baritone range – his Étude in C♯ minor, Op. 25, No. 7, is a classic example – but he actually wrote three chamber works for cello and piano: an Introduction and Polonaise brillante, Op. 3, a Grand duo concertant on themes from Meyerbeer’s Robert-le-Diable, and this sonata, his last published work, written for his friend, the Parisian cellist Auguste Franchomme (1808–1884).

The first movement opens with a sober, almost march-like theme announced in the piano, followed by a deliciously- scintillating pianistic flourish up to the high register, of the sort that must have made young ladies swoon. The cello then enters to take hold of the same melody and works through its melodic implications in a series of passionate interchanges with the piano until a moment of calm intervenes to set the stage for a vocally-inspired second theme of the utmost simplicity. While this movement is in sonata form, with a repeated exposition, the recapitulation is foreshortened and begins with the second theme. Because of Chopin’s habit of splitting melodic interest between the hands in his piano writing, the resulting texture when combined with the cello is extremely rich, frequently offering the ear three melodies to follow at once.

The second movement Scherzo pulls no dark consequences from the fact that it is written in the minor mode, preferring instead to create a more Mendelssohnian mood of “wicked merriment” in an exchange of short phrases between the cello and piano. The trio middle section, by contrast, spins out a waltz-like melody in
long phrases over a simple, arpeggiated accompaniment pattern in the piano.

The Largo is only twenty-seven measures, but with
its naïvely simple melody and widely-spaced piano accompaniment in hypnotically regular eighth notes, it recreates some of the intimacy of the nocturne genre, at which Chopin excelled. This untroubled movement, the still point at the centre of the sonata, has no other formal structure than that of a great sigh: it swells into fullness, then relaxes and fades into perfect repose.

The rondo-like final movement features themes of some dramatic complexity, most of which use dotted rhythms that play against a recurring pattern of triplets. The melodic and harmonic chromaticism of Chopin’s late style is fully in evidence in this movement, which ends with a stirring coda in a sunny G major.

 

Notes by Donald G. Gíslason, Ph.D.

 

Program Notes: Simon Trpčeski

Program Notes: Simon Trpčeski

Schubert: 16 German Dances, D. 783 (Op. 33)
So indelibly is the name Johann Strauss embedded in our consciousness as the purveyor of Viennese dance music that we tend to forget such music existed well before the Waltz King appeared on the scene. Not just minor, forgotten figures like Pamer, Faisatenberger and Wilde, but the likes of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Hummel contributed countless minuets, Deutsche Tänze (German dances), marches, contredances, and later écossaises and waltzes, either for large-scale social functions or for intimate parties. Schubert alone composed some four hundred little piano pieces of this nature across his creative life.

A “German dance” is a simple dance of folk character in triple metre; in Schubert’s hand it eventually gave way to the waltz. The sixteen pieces that make up D. 783 (Op. 33) mostly date from 1823 and 1824. These miniature gems – all sixteen take only about ten minutes to play – are, with two exceptions, laid out in the identical format of two eight-bar phrases, each phrase repeated in an AABB pattern. (The second phrase of Nos. 1 and 10 are double length.) Yet Schubert’s imagination never permits a feeling of repetitiveness or routine; each dance contrasts with its neighbors in tonality, articulation, harmonic activity, dynamic level and articulation.

Schubert: Fantasy in C major, D. 760 “Wanderer Fantasy”
Schubert’s Fantasy in C Major, composed in late 1822, proved to be the most pianistically difficult and structurally advanced music he ever composed. Nearly everything he wrote for the piano was meant for his own use, but the Wanderer Fantasy was an exception, written for a pupil of Hummel. The subtitle “Wanderer” derives from a song of the same title, written by Schubert in his nineteenth year. The Fantasy’s slow movement incorporates the tune of the “Wanderer” song. The text, by the obscure poet Georg Philipp Schmidt, speaks of Byronic gloom, melancholia, loneliness, the search for happiness, estrangement, and of course, wandering – all subjects dear to the hearts of nineteenth-century Romanticists. Schubert set this text to music in 1816 and it became one of the most popular art songs of the entire nineteenth century. The title “Wanderer” was not assigned by Schubert, who called the work simply Fantasy in C major. It was affixed, as were so many fanciful nineteenth-century subtitles, by enterprising publishers with a view towards sales. In form, it closely paralleled Franz Liszt’s efforts in the direction of an extended, unbroken composition that develops from a germinal melodic cell or “motto,” which passes through various metamorphoses in its
course through the piece.

The work opens with the “motto” – the melodic-rhythmic pattern that pervades the entire composition – a long-short-short pattern on the same pitch. The second theme (E flat major) is in a lyrical vein but retains the rhythmic motto, while the third theme reverses the pattern. The Adagio consists of the “Wanderer” tune in C sharp minor, followed by seven variations, some quite brilliant. The motto rhythm becomes transformed in the third section (corresponding to a scherzo third movement) into a robust triple metre. The song-like Trio passage is derived from the second theme of the first movement. The finale, in addition to its exceptional technical demands, offers a rare instance of fugal writing in Schubert’s music. The fugal subject, too, is based on the motto rhythm.

Bach-Liszt: Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
If Franz Liszt had done nothing more than transcribe, arrangeor paraphrase other composers’ works, he would still remain a formidable figure in music history. With composers from A to Z (literally, from Allegri to Zichy) he reworked in some fashion hundreds of pieces ranging from three-minute songs to hour-long symphonies. Strangely, he did little with Bach – just seven works, though those seven rank among Bach’s mightiest organ compositions. The Prelude and Fugue in A minor is a composite work of two independent parts later joined together, the Prelude sometime between 1708 and 1717, the Fugue about 1719. The Prelude is in 4/4 metre, the Fugue in 6/8, but both are built from arpeggiated chords and descending chromatic lines. The Prelude is full of flourishes, arabesques, runs, contrapuntal development and passionate intensity, while the four-part fugue is a veritable cathedral in sound. It is not difficult to identify passages where Liszt brings in the all-important pedal line from the original organ score, sometimes reinforcing it in octaves for even greater power and grandeur.

Franz Liszt: Soirées De Vienne, Valses-Caprices d’après Schubert
No one did more to popularize Schubert’s music in the nineteenth century than Franz Liszt. Among his efforts in this direction, he chose a number of Schubert’s waltzes, filtered them through the alembic of his own musical personality and produced a series of nine works he called Soirées de Vienne, or Valse-Caprices, which he published in 1852. Liszt borrowed a total of 35 dances from seven different waltz sets and used anywhere from one to seven waltzes for each Soirée. In No.7 he used three, all from D.783, which we heard in Schubert’s original form prior to intermission. No. 5 uses just two waltzes, yet it is, at about ten minutes in length, one of the longest of the Soirées. The sixth is by far the most popular and the only one in a minor key. It features a sturdy opening theme, echt Viennese lilt and numerous passages of scintillating filigree decorating Schubert’s charming melodic lines.

Pianist Leslie Howard, who has recorded Liszt’s entire output for solo piano, notes that Schubert’s waltzes “contain a wealth of delightful music which, as Liszt perceived from the beginning with his customary astuteness, requires rescuing and assorting with discreet habiliments for public use. Liszt concocted continuous suites from selected dances, often making a better point than Schubert did of the sheer originality of them by the use of contrasting tonality, and from time to time allowing himself the occasional variation, introduction, interlude or coda.”

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 in C sharp minor
The original solo piano version of the Second Hungarian Rhapsody, by far the most popular of Liszt’s nineteen rhapsodies, dates from 1847. Since then, almost countless arrangements, rearrangements and disarrangements have appeared for everything from simplified piano reductions to full orchestra, and in everything from Bugs Bunny cartoons to feature films (100 Men and a Girl). Liszt explained the title as follows: “By using the word ‘rhapsody,’ my intention is to indicate the fantastic-epic nature which I believe this music to possess. Each of these pieces seems to me to resemble part of a series of poems which all express national fervor. … [The rhapsodies] have their origins in the proud and warlike ardor and the profound grief which gypsy music can depict so well.”

Structurally, the rhapsodies are free in form, the overall shaping forces generally defined by areas of contrast and overall gathering momentum. Like many of them, No. 2 begins with a slow introduction leading into an Andante mesto, which features a passionate theme. The second main part is the friska, which begins quietly gradually building in speed, texture and volume. Finally we hear the principal theme of the friska in the major mode – a sort of brilliant cancan-esque dance tune.

 

Program Notes by Robert Markow, 2013

One of our favourite composers: Franz Schubert

“When Schubert wants to tell you something important, he will usually lower his voice rather than raise it – he draws you into the message, rather than projects it out to you.”  Paul Lewis

Last week, we pointed out Franz Schubert, a much-loved composer by our audiences, will be well represented in our 2012-2013 season.

Leading the charge is Paul Lewis. Is there anyone today who better represents the legacy of pianists who championed the composers of the First Viennese School? Now with the retirement of Alfred Brendel, this great tradition of piano playing is very much alive in the hands of this young British pianist.

Perhaps best known to our audiences for performing the complete sonatas by Beethoven, an Olympic feat, Paul returns with a program dedicated to the three final sonatas by Schubert, the composter with whom he is perhaps best associated.

Paul’s Vancouver performance is actually part of a multi-year Schubert project, which features a series of solo recitals based on the late piano music, and the great song cycles performed with tenor Mark Padmore.

A survey of his 2012 performances will astonish and impress (it will also give a sense of pride knowing the VRS performance follows on the heels of one at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center).

As if by design, but really by coincidence, two other pianists continue the theme of later Schubert: Simon Trpceski and Behzod Abduraimov.

Simon brings to the Chan Centre Schubert’s 16 German Dances (D.783) and the monumental “Wanderer” Fantasy (D.760). He has also chosen Liszt to pair with Schubert, and in so doing he includes Liszt’s Soirees de Vienna,Valses caprices d’après Schubert.

Behzod also pairs Schubert with Liszt, but adds Beethoven for a triumvirate of  towering composers for the piano. He offers the Sonata in A major (D.664), an earlier work, but one which can easily be included in Schubert’s catelogue of favourite and significant output.

Over the coming weeks we will continue to share with you other thoughts and opinions on our 2012-2013 Season. Series tickets are currently offered at exceptional prices with fantastic benefits (complimentary parking passes!).

SOME THOUGHTS ON OUR UPCOMING 12-13 SEASON

 

Today we want to share with you a few thoughts and facts about our recently announced 2012-2013 season:

UP FIRST: On October 5 András Schiff will open the 33rd season with an all-Bach program. In fact, András was one of the first artists who launched the Vancouver Recital Society in 1981. Like so many artists who followed, he made his Canadian debut in Vancouver.

CHEZ NOUS: The earliest performances were presented at the Granville Island Stage, but the Vancouver Playhouse was soon chosen as the ‘home’ for the Vancouver Recital Society. In the upcoming season we will present six afternoon performances at this downtown location.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The VRS established its second ‘home’ soon after the opening of the Chan Centre at UBC in the spring of 1997. Now going into our 16th (!) season at this venue, we continue to present four afternoon performances along with four evening performances. Of course, Mr. Schiff adds a very special ninth performance at the Chan Centre.

In total, the 2012-2013 consists of 15 performances of which 10 are scheduled on Sunday afternoons.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT: we are very excited with our new, low “entry” price. For the first time it is possible to select a series of four performances for only $80 – or $20 for each performance.

AH, TO BE YOUNG AGAIN: our young audience members now have greater access then ever before with our Youth Club and Ru35 programs. Throughout the season, tickets can be had for as little as $16.

A POPULARITY CONTEST?: In our recent survey you ranked your favourite composers and, perhaps not surprisingly, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin came out on top. Happily, our 2012-2013 artists will give us a lovely dose of these top-rankers. As we have seen, Bach is in the best hands with András Schiff. Schubert is well represented throughout the season, most notably by Paul Lewis whose program is dedicated to the monumental three late piano sonatas. Adding to the Schubert repertoire are Simon Trpceski and Behzod Abduraimov. Behzod also brings us the ever-popular “Appassionata” sonata by that ever-popular composer, Beethoven. Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan brings Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise brillante, and pianist Stephen Hough includes Nocturnes on his program.

2012-2013 is shaping up to be a most exciting season. Series tickets are currently offered at exceptional prices with fantastic benefits (complimentary parking passes!). Call our office at 604-602-0363 and we’ll be happy to discuss all our subscription options.

Top