Pedja Muzijevic, piano

Saturday, August 31, 2013, 4 pm

A Concert for the Friends of the Maverick

program

Piano Sonata No. 60 in C Major, Hob. XVI:50 (1794–1795)
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
Allegro
Adagio
Allegro molto

Twenty-Four Preludes, Op. 28 (1838–1839)
Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849)

No. 1 in C major: Agitato
No. 2 in A minor: Lento
No. 3 in G major: Vivace
No. 4 in E minor: Largo
No. 5 in D major: Molto allegro
No. 6 in B minor: Lento assai
No. 7 in A major: Andantino
No. 8 in F-sharp minor: Molto agitato
No. 9 in E major: Largo
No. 10 in C-sharp minor: Molto allegro
No. 11 in B major: Vivace
No. 12 in G-sharp minor: Presto
No. 13 in F-sharp major: Lento
No. 14 in E-flat minor: Allegro
No. 15 in D-flat major (“Raindrop”): Sostenuto
No. 16 in B-flat minor: Presto con fuoco
No. 17 in A-flat major: Allegretto
No. 18 in F minor: Molto allegro
No. 19 in E-flat major: Vivace
No. 20 in C minor: Largo
No. 21 in B-flat major: Cantabile
No. 22 in G minor: Molto agitato
No. 23 in F major: Moderato
No. 24 in D minor: Allegro appassionato

Yamaha is the Official Piano of Maverick Concerts.
The C7 grand piano in the Maverick Concert Hall is a generous loan from Yamaha Artist Services.

THIS EVENING

Saturday, August 31, 8:30 pm

Marc Black, vocals and guitar,
and Warren Bernhardt,
keyboard

TOMORROW

Sunday, September 1, 4 pm

Daedalus String Quartet with Rufus Müller, tenor
Music of Schubert and Smetana, and Britten's Winter Words for tenor and string quartet

 

 


LOGO
Program Notes © 2013 by Miriam Villchur Berg*

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Pianist Pedja Muzijevic has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, Milwaukee Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Shinsei Nihon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, Orquesta Sinfónica in Montevideo, Zagreb Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Greensboro Symphony, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Napa Valley Symphony and Richmond Symphony among others. He has played solo recitals at Alice Tully Hall in New York, Casals Hall and Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo, Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile, Da Camera of Houston, The Frick Collection in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, DC, Lincoln Center’s What Makes It Great series in New York, Arizona Friends of Chamber Music in Tucson, Lane Series at University of Vermont, the Aldeburgh Festival in England, and many others. His Carnegie Hall concerto debut playing Mozart’s Concerto K. 503 with the Oberlin Symphony and Robert Spano was recorded live and has been released on the Oberlin Music label.

In 2011 and 2012, Muzijevic gave two weeks of performances of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos at the harpsichord with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, a Schubert program on a copy of an 1820s fortepiano for Da Camera of Houston, and the chamber version of Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 415 on a copy of a 1790s fortepiano for the Helicon Foundation in New York.

Pedja made his Atlanta Symphony debut in the summer of 2009, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 466 with Grant Llewellyn, and was immediately re-engaged for his subscription debut in 2010, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 453 with Gilbert Varga. He made his St. Paul Chamber Orchestra debut in 2009 playing the Berg Chamber Concerto with violinist Steven Copes and conductor Douglas Boyd. Pedja has performed a solo recital on the Lane Series at the University of Vermont in Burlington, performed a song recital with baritone Simon Keenlyside for Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series at Alice Tully Hall in New York, and played at the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

His many festival engagements encompass, among others, performances at Tanglewood, Spoleto USA, Mostly Mozart, Newport, OK Mozart, Bridgehampton, Bay Chamber Concerts, San Miguel de Allende, Aldeburgh, Lucerne, Holland, Melbourne, Aix-en-Provence, Dubrovnik, Merano, and Bratislava. He has toured with Mikhail Baryshnikov and the White Oak Dance Project throughout the United States, South America, Europe, and Asia and with Simon Keenlyside in Trisha Brown’s staged version of Schubert’s Winterreise at Lincoln Center in New York, the Barbican in London, La Monnaie in Brussels, l’Opera National de Paris, as well as in Amsterdam, Lucerne, and Melbourne.

Pedja’s solo recording, Sonatas and Other Interludes, is available on Albany Records. It juxtaposes music for prepared piano by John Cage with composers ranging from W.F. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti to Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann. His discography also includes, besides his Carnegie Hall concerto debut, two CDs on fortepianos—A Schumann Salon and Mozart and Beethoven Quintets for piano and woodwinds.

 


 


 


ABOUT THE MUSIC

At the end of the eighteenth century, Joseph Haydn was financially secure and famous throughout Europe. He made two visits to London, where his music was widely acclaimed. During one of those visits, he composed his last three piano sonatas for a young musician named Therese Jansen. Unlike the usual piano sonatas of the day, which were designed for students or amateurs to play in their parlors, these are keyboard masterpieces, taking advantage of Jensen’s skill and also of the greater dynamic capabilities of the new English grand pianos.

In the opening Allegro of the Piano Sonata No. 60 in C Major, Hob. XVI:50, Haydn introduces his relaxed, elegant style. The theme bounces down and up the notes of the C-major chord, then adds leaps, rolling chords, and trills. In the development section, the theme moves into the minor mode, and is skillfully transposed into new keys, changing its affect from lighthearted to mysterious. The movement closes with a return to the easy cheerfulness
of the opening.

The slow central movement (Adagio) was actually composed in Vienna before Haydn’s departure for London. A mellifluous song, set in F major, is the focus, with a spare left-hand accompaniment. Brief contrapuntal passages add layers of melody, and the movement ends with a gentle cadence.

To frame the song of the Adagio, Haydn completes the sonata with a vigorous finale (Allegro). Haydn’'s famous musical wit is here evident, with short phrases that come to a sudden pause before they are complete. Like the phrases, the movement itself is short, just long enough to leave us smiling.

Frédéric Chopin was a gifted prodigy, publishing his first works (two polonaises) at the age of eight. Although he received a rigorous education in composition, he was largely self-taught as a performer. He had planned to be a touring pianist-composer, but found he did not enjoy traveling and large public concerts, despite good reviews (Schumann called the twenty-year-old Chopin a genius). So he settled into a life of composing in the country in the summertime and teaching and performing a few concerts in Paris in the winter.

Chopin introduced the music of his native Poland to the audiences of Europe decades before the nationalist movement in music began in earnest. He revolutionized piano playing, and was a highly renowned and successful piano teacher. He let the hands, wrists, and arms flow in a supple, choreographed dance that suited the varying tone colors and textures of each passage.

Chopin’s music makes the most of the unique qualities of the piano: the uniformity of its tone, the decay of the note after being struck, and its capacity for subtle shades of dynamics as well as intense range of volume. Unlike notes played by winds or strings, or sung by the voice, a piano note cannot get louder once it has been struck. One of the ways Chopin achieved songlike legato lines on the piano was through extensive use of the sustain pedal. His music is known for its operatic-style ornaments, for blurring
the distinction between melody and harmony, and for
virtuosic figuration.

All of Chopin’s music has a piano in it, and the vast majority is for solo piano. But he was highly influenced by Italian and French opera. Living in Paris, he was surrounded with the new works of Rossini, Bellini, and Meyerbeer. He used the vocal techniques of bel canto singing (emphasis on beauty and evenness of tone and long, legato lines) and made them into piano techniques.

In April of 1838, Chopin made the acquaintance of George Sand, and soon the two were lovers. They escaped Paris to spend the winter in Majorca, where Sand wrote and Chopin composed the Twenty-Four Preludes, Op. 28. His friend Camille Pleyel, son of the founder of the Pleyel piano company, sent him an upright piano for his time on the Mediterranean island. Chopin wrote to Pleyel in January of 1839: “I am sending you my Préludes. I finished them on your little piano which arrived in the best possible conditions in spite of the sea, the bad weather, and the Palma customs.”

Chopin took with him to Majorca Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (1722), a set of twenty-four preludes (and fugues) in every possible key (major and minor of each of the twelve tones of the chromatic octave). Bach had written the set as a didactic exercise and a demonstration of the advantages of equal temperament in keyboard tuning. Prior to that time, harpsichord players would retune their instruments for pieces in various keys, since the natural harmonics of strings are slightly different in different keys. Bach was advocating for the new system, in which every semitone was of equal size and no retuning was required. He would demonstrate this by playing the set of pieces in C major, then C minor, then C sharp major, etc.

Chopin wanted something very different from the twenty-four possible keys. He was a miniaturist, composing short pieces—polonaises, mazurkas, etudes, and such. He wanted a way to turn small pieces into an integrated and comprehensive whole. Instead of organizing the keys chromatically, as Bach had done, Chopin arranged them according to relative minors and the circle of fifths. He starts with C major, then goes to its relative minor of A minor, and then to the tone that is a fifth higher than C, namely G major, then to its relative minor of E minor, etc.

The modulation from a major key to its relative minor, and the modulation from any key to the key that is a fifth higher, are basic and common patterns in classical music. The sounds of those modulations are familiar to listeners’ ears even if they are not aware of the applicable music theory. So the effect of Chopin’s chosen ordering of the Preludes is to create an overarching structure that is satisfying and to some extent expected. He created a work in which each prelude could stand alone but could also contribute to a substantial and logically ordered whole.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg. It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy,  publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at miriam@hvc.rr.com