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Tuesday, October 17, 2017
8pm

The Montrose Trio

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017
8pm

Calmus, Vocal Ensemble

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Friday January 26, 2018
8pm

Stephen Hough, Piano

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Thursday, March 29, 2018
8pm

WindSync, Chamber Musicians

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Program Notes

Tryon Concert Association Presents

Alexander Kobrin, Piano

Thursday, March 30, 2017

8:00 p.m.

 

PROGRAM

Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 14, No. 1 in E Major

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Allegro

Allegretto

Rondo. Allegro comodo

Piano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Allegro non troppo, ma energico

Andante con espressione

Scherzo: Allegro, Poco piu moderato

Finale: Sostenuto; Allegro non troppo e rubato;

molto sostenuto

 

Intermission

 

Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. D. 960

                                    Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Molto moderato

Andante sostenuto

Scherzo

Finale, Allegro ma non troppo

 

A FOOTNOTE ON APPLAUSE: The spirit and beauty of the music will be enhanced for both the performers and the audience by saving your applause until the completion of the last movement of each composition.

Note on the Artist

Born in Moscow in 1980, Alexander Kobrin began his musical training at age five in the Gnessin Special School of Music. At age eighteen he became a student at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory from which he holds a graduate degree.

In his teens, Kobrin won several international piano competitions. In 2005 he won the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal at the Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas; immediately following this award, Mr. Kobrin began his first tour of the United States. In addition to being a performer in competitions, Mr. Kobrin has been a jury member for many such international piano events.

Mr. Kobrin has maintained an extensive schedule of engagements in Europe, Asia, and South America. He has performed with renowned orchestras and leading conductors. His prize-winning performances have been praised for their “brilliant technique, musicality, and emotional engagement with the audience.” Of his performance of the Second Piano Concerto by Johannes Brahms with the Syracuse Symphony a critic stated: “This was a performance that will be revered and remembered as a landmark of the regeneration of exceptional classical music in Central NY.”

In the fall of 2009 Kobrin moved to the United States and currently teaches at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University and the Steinhardt School at New York University.

As a recording artist Mr. Kobrin has releases on Harmonia Mundi, Quartz, and Centaur labels. His Schumann album has been included into top-5 albums of the year in 2015 by Fanfare Magazine. Gramophone Magazine praised his Cliburn Competition release on Harmonia Mundi saying that, “in Rachmaninoff’s Second Sonata [along with] fire-storms of virtuosity, Korbin achieves a hypnotic sense of the music’s dark necromancy.” He has recorded an all-Chopin compact disc as well.

Piano Sonata No. 9, Op.14, No. 1 in E Major

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Between 1795 and 1823 Beethoven composed 32 piano sonatas, some of which have been described as “the pianist’s Bible.” These works brought a new concept of writing for the piano through their enriched harmonic and dynamic elements. They bridged the eras of the Classical and Romantic periods, and brought a fresh sense of emotion to this genre.

Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 14, No. 1 in E Major was written in 1798 and dedicated to Baroness Josefine von Braun, one of Beethoven’s patrons at that time. He would later arrange it for string quartet.

The Allegro opens in a light and airy manner, but it soon brings in the elements of Sturm and Drang (storm and drive) recognized in much of Beethoven’s music. In this score, Beethoven clearly indicated the crescendos and accented notes, something which was unusual at that time.

The middle movement, Allegretto in E minor, is dark (but not tragic) and ends with a short coda. Then, without a break, the finale Rondo continues with its repeating primary theme. It is playful and has a rustic sense of Austrian peasants “playing practical jokes on ignorant foreigners.” Some sections are quite stormy.

Throughout the movements, we hear mounting intensity, changing harmonies from major to minor, light rapid runs, and tiny spaces of dramatic silence.

Pianist Andras Schiff points out that this sonata, with its mysterious singing manner, interweaving themes, and triumphant chords, is somewhat impressionistic and difficult to interpret and perform.

Piano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

While Johannes Brahms grew up in a near poverty-stricken household, his father, recognizing his son’s budding musical ability, arranged for Johannes to take piano lessons – first from a local teacher and then from Eduard Marxsen, one of the best music teachers in Hamburg Germany. Here he was steeped in the classical masters — Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mozart — which was to influence his style of composing throughout life. Along with the classical style, romanticism was always strong in Brahms’ compositions.

At age sixteen Brahms sent a parcel of his compositions to Robert Schumann for evaluation; it was returned unopened. The two had yet to meet. However, on a tour with Hungarian violinist Eduard Remenyi in 1853, Brahms went to Dusseldorf where Robert and Clara Schumann lived. He presented himself to Robert Schumann who allowed the young man to come in and perform some of his recent works. Both Robert and Clara were so impressed that they virtually adopted Brahms. He lived with them for the next three months absorbing their wisdom.

Included in the music the 20-year-old Brahms carried to the Schumann’s home at this first meeting were his first and second piano sonatas, Opus 1 and 2, and the incomplete third. These three piano sonatas, in fact, would be the total output by Brahms in the genre of piano sonatas. After hearing Brahms play a selection of his piano music, including the Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Robert Schumann said to Brahms, “You and I understand each other.”

Op. 2 was actually written before Op. 1 in C major, but the Piano Sonata in C Major was published before the Sonata in F-sharp Minor. Opus numbers are based on the order in which they are published. (Brahms felt that the C major sonata was of higher

quality.) He sent them to the publishers Breitkopf und Hartel accompanied by a letter of recommendation from Robert Schumann. Brahms dedicated the F-sharp Minor Sonata to famed pianist Clara Schumann.

In the four movements of this sonata we hear a moody first movement Allegro, which demands virtuosic presentation. This is followed by a dreamy Andante of variations based on a medieval Rhineland song. This movement leads without interruption into the Scherzo, also fashioned on the Rhineland theme song. The Finale is the longest and most profound movement of this sonata. After a slow introduction, with shifts from major to minor and a repeat of themes that are passionate, fiery, and “Schumannesque,” Brahms concludes with a coda reminiscent of the movement’s introduction.

Clara Schumann described Brahms’ early piano works as “rich in fantasy, depth of feeling, and mastery of form” –in short, a blend of Classical discipline and Romantic freedom.

Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. D. 960

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Franz Schubert is considered one of the prime musicians who bridged the last of the Classical period and the beginning of the Romantic era. In his short thirty-one years, he created hundreds of works including vocal, symphonies, sacred and secular pieces, operas, and a large body of chamber and piano music. Although greatly appreciated by his circle of friends, much of his music was not appreciated during his lifetime but was discovered and published posthumously.

Of his twenty-two piano sonatas, the last three (C Minor, Op. 958, A Major, Op. 959, and B-flat Major, Op. 960) are considered his finest. Although severely ill, Schubert composed these three sonatas back-to-back between the spring and autumn of 1828. They were not published until ten years after his death. Today they are considered among his most important late works.

It is not clear whether Schubert knew he was dying when he composed his final piano sonata, but the sentiment of the music suggests that he may have had some premonition. The music has been described as almost hymn-like, with an expression of tranquility, even acceptance. Yet it is sprinkled with some happy, even joyful moments.

Schubert’s final instrumental work, the Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, was written in four movements. The opening, Molto moderato, suggests considerable foreboding while the subsequent Andante sostenuto is in a reflective mood. This second movement has been described as “a marvel of introspection with its strains of pathos and resignation.” The Scherzo provides some contrast and relief with brisk, bright, even joyful strains. The Finale, Allegro ma non troppo, is a rondo with variations which go from stormy to dark, then it ends in a cheerful vein.

Schubert played his last three sonatas at a party given in his honor on September 27, 1828, having finished the B-Flat Sonata only the previous day. He died less than two months afterwards.
As Claudio Arrau described the B-flat Major Sonata, “This is a work written in the proximity of death … one feels it from the very first theme … the breaking off, and the silence after a long mysterious trill in the bass.”

 

Program Notes by Joella Utley

 

 

 

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