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Elizabeth Reed Smith, Henning Vauth, piano
J.S. Bach: Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008
Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello are among the most recognizable solo compositions ever written for the instrument. These works were most likely composed between 1717 and 1723, although the exact date is not known. During this time, Bach served as Kapellmeister or ‘director of music’ in Cöthen, Germany. The suites were not widely performed until the 1900s when Pablo Casals discovered an edition of them by Friedrich Grützmacher, a notable German cellist, in Barcelona, Spain. All of these works have been transcribed for viola, as well as other instruments.
A suite usually consists of a combination of the following movements: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Minuet(s), and Gigue. With the exception of the Prelude, every movement is a type of dance. The Prelude establishes the key of d minor and serves as an introduction for the sets of dances that follow. It has a moderate tempo and always has the feeling of moving forward. The Minuet is French in origin. The name Minuet (Menuet in French) suggests small or slender, referring to the type of dance step used. It is almost always written in 3/4 time. The Gigue, on the other hand, is a lively English dance originating from the British jig. Like other Baroque dances, the Gigue is divided into two parts. The Gigue is most commonly found at the end of a suite.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Suite for Viola and Orchestra
The Suite for Viola and Orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams was composed in 1933 and 1934. The Suite is dedicated to violist Lionel Tertis, who premiered the work on November 12, 1934 at the Queen's Hall in London under the baton of Malcolm Sargent. The work is scored for a small orchestra, but in many performances the piano is used as a substitute. This suite has eight movements, and the movements are divided into three groups. Movements are generally performed in groups, but may be performed in other configurations.
The Moto Perpetuo (“perpetual motion”) is a very fast movement consisting of relentless sixteenth notes and varying groups of rhythms. Vaughan Williams makes use of the hemiola effect in this movement.
Generally, hemiola obscures the meter. For instance, a piece written in 3/4 with hemiola may sound like it is in 2/4. The soloist does not get to rest in this movement until the very last notes are played.
The Ballad is the slowest and longest of all eight movements. The main theme is heard at the very beginning and continually reappears throughout the movement. In addition to more hemiola effects, Vaughan Williams emphasizes the stress and resolution of notes with the use of dissonance and resolution. As the main theme ends for the last time, the harmony becomes ever thinner until the soloist plays the final unaccompanied note, which dies into nothingness.
The Galop is the final movement in Group 3 and provides a nice contrast to the Ballad. Vaughan Williams uses folk tunes in most of his music, and this movement is no exception. A galop is an old English dance that can have connotations to horses or a rustic lifestyle. This relatively short movement consists of three parts. The beginning is much like the end, with the addition of a very small cadenza at the end of the piece. The middle section brings the audience to the rodeo itself.
Joan Tower: Wild Purple
Joan Tower (b. September 6, 1938) is a Grammy award winning contemporary American composer, concert pianist and conductor. Lauded by an author in the New Yorker as "one of the most successful woman composers of all time", her bold and energetic compositions have been performed in concert halls around the world. Wild Purple, composed in 1998, is one of her three “Purple Pieces” for viola. Tower's Purple Rhapsody (2005) is a concerto for viola and chamber ensemble. Her Wild Purple and Simply Purple (2008) are both written for solo viola.
Wild Purple begins with a very quiet introduction with interjections at seemingly random intervals. The word “wild” in this piece refers to the sudden changes in rhythm, dynamics, color, or character. As the work progresses, the tempo slowly increases to a point where meter is of little consequence. It is at this point where Tower writes a multitude of notes all belonging to the same measure, giving liberty to the soloist to perform it as he wishes. The only direction given is the word “fast.” Tower also utilizes dissonance in this work. It is a prominent feature from beginning to end, for the entire piece finishes with a tritone.
Johannes Brahms: Sonata in F minor, Op. 120, No. 1
The Clarinet Sonatas, Op. 120, No. 1 and 2 are a pair of works written for clarinet and piano by the Romantic composer Johannes Brahms. They were written in 1894 and are dedicated to the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld. The sonatas stem from a period in Brahms’s life when he “discovered” the beauty of the sound and color of the clarinet. Later, Brahms transcribed these two sonatas for viola with alterations to suit a stringed instrument. These were the last chamber pieces Brahms wrote before his death and are considered two of the great masterpieces in the clarinet and viola repertoire.
The first movement, marked Allegro appassionato, is, as the marking suggests, passionate. This movement is in sonata form, and can be divided into three sections: the exposition, development, and recapitulation. The exposition, or beginning section, consists of two major themes. The first, heard at the very beginning, is lush and rich in sound. The second theme begins rather quietly and grows in intensity and power. It reaches a point in the music where the sound soars above everything, and then slowly calms down again. In the development section, the music undergoes frequent changes in key. Brahms wrote a rather short development for this movement. After he altered parts of both themes, Brahms went straight into the recapitulation, or the restatement of the original themes. The movement ends with a coda marked sostenuto ed expressivo, or flowing and expressive.
The second movement is slow and expressive. The main theme, which can be heard at the beginning, appears many times throughout the movement with different dynamics, colors, characters and even octave displacement.
In sharp contrast to its predecessor, the third movement has the sound of a rustic, peasant (pesante) dance. Like the first movement, it consists of three sections. The movement opens with a very light, dance-like theme that transforms into a bright, exuberant statement.
The middle section is a much quieter and smoother theme with appropriate rises and falls in dynamics. The final section is the recap of the first theme with very little change.
The final movement marked Vivace, or very lively, is the fastest movement of the sonata. It has an altered rondo form structured as follows: A B A` C B` A``. This means that the first theme, marked A, appears three times, the second theme twice, and the third only makes one appearance in the middle of the piece. This movement is best described as triumphant and effectively ends this sonata with much strength and vigor.
~ Program notes by Tim Feverston
This recital is presented in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance. Mr. Feverston is a student in the studio of Dr. Elizabeth Reed Smith.
Smith Recital Hall
recitals, viola, sonatas, suites, concerto
Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | Music | Music Performance
Feverston, Tim, "Marshall University Department of Music Presents a Senior Recital, Tim Feverston, viola" (2013). All Performances. 543.