Forgotten Gems of the Violin Sonata Repertoire: Michael Maronich, piano and Nicholas Pappone, violin
Fri, May 21 7:30 PM, EDT
Join me as I make my Groupmuse debut, collaborating with my friend and colleague, Nicholas Pappone, on an unusual program of forgotten, but wonderful sonatas for violin and piano. They take you on a varied journey, from the hyper-romanticism of a young Frank Bridge, William Bolcom's love of American jazz, to the fairy-tale Norwegian folk songs that surrounded Edvard Grieg. Nicholas and I met moving into the dorms at Manhattan School of Music, the first day of our freshman year. Many years later, I was even Nicholas's best man at his wedding!
--Notes on the program--
Frank Bridge was the teacher of the famous English composer, Benjamin Britten, who highly respected him and championed his music. Bridge has a certain knack for string chamber music writing, as he made much of his early career as a string quartet violist and freelance orchestra musician. His first Violin Sonata is very rarely played (possibly because he left it incomplete) making this performance a unique treat! It clearly shows influences from the late romanticism of Strauss and a way of writing for violin and piano very similar to Strauss's famous Violin Sonata, yet always with his own distinctly British touch. It is a shame he didn't complete the piece, as it has a real intimate and genuine emotionality that is very unique to Bridge.
American composer William Bolcom and his violinist friend, Sergiu Luca, both enjoyed the music of the famous jazz violinist Joe Venuti. So shortly after Venuti's death, they collaborated on this sonata. Through the piece, you can trace an amusing story line of the piano gradually trying to convince the violin to stop insisting on spikey modernist music and relent to the joys of jazz. By the last movement, the piano is quite successful!
Grieg's second Violin Sonata, Op. 13 is not often played because it is overshadowed by his much more popular third Violin Sonata, Op. 45. He wrote it in a very joyous three week period shortly after returning to Norway from the conservatory in Leipzig and getting married. Of his three violin sonatas it is known as the really "Norwegian" one! We can see Grieg's unique compositional voice begin to emerge here. The sonata opens with this dramatic and improvisatory lament in which you can hear the powerful geography of Norway through the lyrical voice of a folk singer. (Or maybe it is the voice of his new wife, Nina, who was a famous lyric soprano?) These improvisatory gestures are omnipresent through the rest of the piece, but by the third movement the gloom soon lifts to reveal the unbridled joy of a spring folk dance. Grieg's teacher at the time called the piece "too Norwegian." Grieg apparently responded by promising his next piece would be even more Norwegian!
Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano by Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
II. Andante con espressione
Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano by William Bolcom (b. 1938)
I. Summer Dreams
II. Brutal, fast
IV. In memory of Joe Venuti
Sonata No. 2 in G Major, Op. 13 Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
I. Lento doloroso - Allegro vivace
II. Allegretto tranquillo
III. Allegro animato