It is our first concert of the season and we are thrilled to welcome violinist Susie Park from Australia by way of Minnesota, where she is the first associate concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra. This child prodigy, who is an internationally recognized and lauded performer, made her concert debut at the tender age of five. Park’s program promises to be musically diverse and passionately performed on her famous violin. Made in 1740 by Giovanni Guadagnini, considered one the best luthiers in the world. Park is joined by Julliard alumni, Elizabeth Pridgen, Artistic Director of the Atlanta Chamber Players, praised by the American Record Guide for her “big piano presence”.
The evening opens with Schubert’s Duo Sonata in A major. Composed in 1817, the four movements include an allegro moderato where the piano offers a delicate introduction to the highlighted violin, and the second scherzo, a rollicking piece with quite a few surprising key changes. It is a true “duo” in the sense that Park and Pridgen share an almost equal proportion of the playing.
This is followed by Leoš Janáček's Piano Sonata in E-Flat Minor. Janáček was a Czech composer inspired by Moravian and Slavic folk music and mostly celebrated for his opera compositions. This sonata, miraculously recovered in 1924, is written as an adagio peppered with staccato accents that takes the listener on a dramatic journey through the hinterland of his country.
After intermission the program continues with Three Romances, by Clara Schumann. Wife of composer Robert, she is considered one of the world’s first true pianists and recognized as a composer in her own right apart from her famous husband. The daughter of a noted German piano teacher, she was also one of the first to play from memory and to publicly perform the works of Brahms. First performed in 1855, Three Romances consists of three contrasting and vibrant movements. From hints of gypsy pathos, to a wistful second moment to rippling melodies in the third opus, this chamber music favorite, which one critic called “lush and poignant” is sure to please.
The centerpiece of the evening will be Beethoven’s magnificent Violin Sonata No. 5 known as the “Spring”. This was his first work to break away from the conventions of 18th century composition, including its rigid three-movement sonata form, and to move to a four movement symphonic style, as well as introducing the relaxed lyricism conjuring up the soft sunlight that suffuses the work.
Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs), brings our evening to a dramatic close. Considered one of the most virtuosic pieces in the violin repertoire, it is also a favorite among violinists. Inspired by a trip to Budapest, Sarasate’s piece takes the form of the Hungarian csárdás, beginning slow but with an escalating and rapid-fingered climatic finish!
Tickets for the concerts at St. Paul’s are $200, $350 and $450 pesos donation each, and are on sale at the Bookshop in the Biblioteca Pública; through our website with no booking fee, and at the concert 45 minutes before performance time.