Wed, Nov 22 Juan Pedro García: Shostakovich, Schumann and Prokofiev
In this recital, pianist Juan Pedro García performs Shostakovich's Second Sonata alongside Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata and Schumann's Waldszenen.
'[…] Albéniz was the first to make use of melancholy in harmony, and to utilise the unique humour of his native land. […] Never before had music assumed such a multi-faceted and dazzlingly colourful guise. One closes one's eyes and reels from so much imaginative bounty in music'. A musician of such eminence as Claude Debussy summarized with these words Albéniz’s opus magnum: Iberia. Jerez, from the fourth book of the collection, is inspired on the eponymous city from the southern region of Spain.
The Second Sonata in B minor, op. 61 is Shostakovich’s only real large scale solo piano work in multi-movement form. It was unfortunately overshadowed by other important works Shostakovich wrote during the same period of time, specially his 'War Symphonies' (Nos. 6-8), and his Piano Trio in E minor, op. 67. The composer’s desire to pay tribute to the death of his professor Leonid Nikolayev, to whom the composition was dedicated, provided inspiration for this piece. Although this music might seem carefree and light at first glance, it is not the case. There is an unstoppable tension that lies underneath through the first movement, an elegiac-tone lyricism that permeates the second movement, and a dark, tragic set of variations on a theme that serves as a conclusion to the sonata.
The forest is one of the most important metaphors of German Romanticism, and embodies a longing for harmony between man and nature that is typical of this artistic era. Forests became rich symbols of mystery and the unconscious — nature in its most beautiful state, but also as an unknown place. The notion of the position of the human being within that wild nature and how commitment to something like that could in turn affect the self-concept that man has of himself was something that inspired many writers, poets, painters and musicians of the time. Schumann was in fact held in thrall by this magnetism of the 'romantic forest'. His cycle Waldszenen could represent the various experiences during a walk in the woods.
Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata in B flat major, op. 83 is the second of the composer’s three so-called 'War Sonatas'. Written during the second world war, this work definitely has a turbulent and anxious energy that reflect the political tensions of the time. Pianist Sviatoslav Richter, who premiered the piece in 1943, had the following to say about it: 'With this work, we are brutally plunged into the anxiously threatening atmosphere of a world that has lost its balance. Chaos and uncertainty reign. We see murderous forces unleashed. But this does not mean that what we lived by before thereby ceases to exist. We continue to feel and to love. Now the full range of human emotions bursts forth. In the tremendous struggle that this involves, we find the strength to affirm the irrepressible life-force.'
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Jerez (from Iberia (book IV), B. 47)
Sonata No. 2 in b minor, op. 61
Waldszenen, op. 82
Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major, op. 83