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"A Two-Sided Program of Performers!"

PianoWorks Musicale on July 22, 2021 Utako Tanigawa, Annette Russo, Kimber Kwiatkowski, Lilly Wojewoda, Abbie Hattauer, Natale Farrell, Cathy Rockoff, Carol Wazlavek, Judy Manganiello, Rob Busey, Paul Zampol, Paul Cossman, Tom Slavicek, Sam Smith, Arlene Martinides, Ed Ewing.

What a crowd gathered at our July 22 PianoWorks Musicale! It was a combination of guests, listeners, and performers that enjoyed getting together at our monthly event. We want to thank everyone who brought goodies to share and thank PianoWorks for the use of their concert hall and the choice of TWO grand pianos!

We started at 11am with Utako's performance of the Chopin Etude Op 25 No 1 - "Aeolian Harp". As always it was a graceful and fluid performance of this virtuoso piece. Beautiful phrasing and expression. Utako then followed it with yet another virtuoso piece, the Schumann/Liszt Widmung Op 25 No. 1. A beautiful love song written by Schumann that Liszt "enhanced" making it into a masterpiece of piano showmanship.

Annette, soprano, and Kimber, piano, teamed up to present us with Puccini's "O Mio Bambino Caro" aria. Annette's voice was clear and well balanced and Kimber's accompaniment highlighted Annette's voice. Beautiful rendition.

Lilly Wojewoda, Kimber's young student, presented us with Mozart's Sonatina in C Major - Andante and Rondo Allegro. One could hear that Lilly was well on her way to perfecting the piece very soon. Her legato and tempo were excellent throughout this in-progress piece.

Kimber returned to perform Chopin's Nocturne in B Major, Op 9 No 3. Her playing was sensitive with a clear expression throughout. The middle section of this nocturne came off as turbulent as intended, and returned to a peaceful conclusion.

Abbie graced us with her guitar by playing the "Ode To Joy" section of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. She sang two stanzas of the song as she continued to improve her performance of this piece.

Natale and her friend Cathy Rockoff teamed up to perform Jacques Ibert's "The White Donkey" for piano 4 hands. It was a whimsical piece complete with the pianistic sounds of a donkey mixed throughout this tricky piece. Well done by the two of them.

Cathy returned accompanied by Carol to perform George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" piano 4 hands, arranged by Yukie Smith. A piece full of tricky rhythms and exuberant melodies. Cathy and Carol pulled it off beautifully.

Carol stayed on to perform her rendition of Alexander Tcherepnin's Bagatelle Op 5, No 1. It was a strong and forceful performance yet lighthearted. Definitely had a "Prokofiev sound" to it.

Judy Manganiello was next with her performance of Albert Pieczonka's "Tarantella" . Another gem of a piece that is rarely performed nowadays but becomes much loved once listened to. Judy's touch was lyrical and clear...nice!

Rob performed a love song that was made popular in a movie in the second half of the 20th century (no one could remember the name of the movie!). He had a recorded accompaniment and sang it with an easy and soft voice, appropriate to the song itself.

Now turning to "Page Two" of our Program that day:

Paul Zampol, a new member to GMG, performed Eric Satie's "Trois Gnossiennes". Paul's comment about the music was ," Strange music by a strange guy." Very true. The three pieces, although technically not difficult, have their own difficulties in expression and tempo. Satie's composition kept us guessing as to where he was going with the "melody". Unexpected chord progressions gave me, your editor, the illusion of viewing life as if through a fractured window. Paul's rubato and dynamics were well thought out.

Paul Cossman, another new member to GMG brought us his rendition of Beethoven's first movement of the "Moonlight Sonata". Then, much to the surprise and delight of everyone Paul continued to play the entire sonata. His piece is a "diamond in the rough" and we are anxious to hear him perform it again soon.

Tom continued the program by substituting his father's listed "Impromptu" (not quite ready to perform it) by giving the audience a choice among three pieces: Granados "Spanish Dance No 5", Liszt's "Consolation No. 3", and Liszt's "Lugubre Gondola No. 1". The Consolation came in second, and the Granados won the day...and Tom lamented that no one liked the Lugubre Gondola (Tom, apparently, is the only one who does!). He proceeded to give the crowd it's choice and gave a rousing interpretation of the Dance.

Next came Sam's performance of Phillip Glass's "Etude No 2". The piece, in typical Glass style, started out simple enough with the minimal theme, actually a series of chord progressions, repeated multiple times. The theme became more complex and the "etude" title became apparent. The theme was hypnotic and mesmerizing starting out gently, growing to a crescendo in the middle portion and then coming back down to gentleness. It was reminiscent of the music in the movie "Koyaanisquatsi" for which Glass wrote the score. Nicely performed by Sam.

Arlene's performance of Schumann's "Arabesque" was excellent. Restrained sentimentality, lyrically uplifting, her interpretation expressed the Arabesque's intentions.

Concluding the program was Ed's playing of "Take Five" originally performed by the Dave Brubek Quartet in the 1950s. Ed began the piece by improvising on the theme then moved to the theme itself keeping a great rhythm to this classic jazz composition, and slipping in some improvising along the way.

Our next PianoWorks Musicale will be on Thursday, August 26 from 11am to 1pm.

Tom Slavicek

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1 Comment

Gail Ravin Starr
Gail Ravin Starr
Jul 28, 2021

Thank you for the beautifully descriptive summary! I wish I could have been there. ❤️

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