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The Mary Potterton Memorial Concerts Present An Evening of Sonatas for Viola and Piano

Lubec -

SummerKeys faculty member violist Margrét Hjaltested to perform in an evening of sonatas for viola and piano as part of the Mary Potterton Memorial Concert series (sent by the performer)

LUBEC – The Lubec Congregational Christian Church, another SummerKeys faculty member, violist Margr√©t Hjaltested, will be featured in a concert with pianists Bruce Potterton & Charles Jones at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25. Ms. Hjaltested says that she planned the program to showcase the sonata ” by playing three pieces by three different composers from three time periods – baroque, classical, and romantic. They are all similar in form, but very different [in style].” Ms. Hjaltested is a native of Iceland and has a long list of musical institutions from which she holds degrees and also orchestral and smaller instrumental groups with which she has performed both in this country and abroad. She has recorded with various groups and appeared here in both Faculty Chamber Concerts this season. Of this past year she comments that she has “had a good, busy year teaching and performing in New York.”
In the first part of the concert SummerKeys founder and director, pianist Bruce Potterton will join Ms. Hjaltested in two sonatas. The first is “Sonata in g-minor, Wq. 88,” written 1759 by C.P.E. Bach, second son of Johann Sebastian Bach by his first wife. This sonata appears to be a transcription from the “G minor Trio Sonata for viol da gamba and keyboard, # 24,” which was written early in his time of working for Frederick the Great. The word “trio,” in this piece, doesn’t refer to the number of players, but to the fact that there are three “voices,” with the keyboard filling out the textures with chords. In the first of the three movements, the piano and viola take turns with a lively theme, each adding embellishments. In the Larghetto, the themes are again taken in turn by each instrument, but more slowly and thoughtfully. The energy of the final Allegro assai movement skips and trills back and forth, with the piano carrying two voices, which allows for a fugue-like interweaving of three voices.
Having heard an example from the baroque style, next will come the classical style in “Sonata for Viola and Piano, Opus 5, #3 in E- flat major,” composed in Vienna by Johann Nepomuk Hummel in 1798 when he was just twenty. Another musical prodigy, Hummel, at the age of eight, was invited by Mozart to take lessons and live in his house for free. He was friends with the great composers of the time and was also a teacher of Czerny who taught many later pianist Hummel’s new way of fingering and ornamentation. This early sonata begins the Allegro moderato with a lovely melody that is repeated by each instrument with different ornamentations, and then it ends with an unexpected dissonance. The Andante cantabile is moving and contains much complex ornamentation, again the two instruments taking turns with their own expressions of the themes. Though there are some dissonances in the Rondo con moto, the two instruments are beautifully balanced and the even flow of the music is undisturbed.
Following intermission, with refreshments provided by The Lubec Memorial Library, Ms. Hjaltested is joined by pianist Charles Jones to perform together “Sonata in E flat” by Johannes Brahms which is in the romantic style. This sonata came close to not being written at all, since Brahms had decided in 1890, at the age of 57, that he had written all he had in him to write. However, fortunately for posterity, he met clarinetist Richard M√ľhlfeld and began composing works for him to play, among them two sonatas. Since the clarinet and viola have similar ranges, he quickly arranged them also for viola and piano, the second being the one to be performed here. In the Allegro amabile movement one can indeed hear musically lyrical love. This is followed by the high-energy Allegro appassionato with the viola surging and twisting in the first scherzo section, which is then contrasted with the Brahmsian nobility of the trio, before returning to the scherzo. The final Andante con moto is really a set of variations on the the viola’s opening theme, which is in a similar spirit to the first movement. All the variations are in 6/8 time, until moving to 2/4 for the final variation, thus bringing the initially slow movement to an energetic finale, and the end of Brahms’ chamber works.

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