August 7 Musicale musically rewarding and historically entertaining

Updated: Aug 16

This week’s Musicale was another wonderful experience for all of us. During the few minutes before the Zoom meeting began we entered into reminiscences of our own experiences with classical performers we’ve encountered in the past. Most notably Fran spoke about attending a Kirsten Flagstaff concert in her youth, listening to Jesse Norman, and attending Horowitz’s final public performance held at Carnegie hall when he was 86 years old. In spite of some ‘klinkers’ at the piano, as Fran put it, it was an exhilarating and historic evening for sure. Next, we listened to Arlene’s romantic interpretation of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words Op.19 No. 1. This was a piece she learned in high school and one which has been a favorite of hers ever since. Mendelssohn’s sister, Fannie, was a notable pianist and composer in her own right and it is often surmised that several of Felix’s own pieces were actually composed by her. Moving next to Chopin, he didn’t like his composition, Fantasie-Impromptu and never published it within his lifetime. He left instructions for his sister to destroy all unpublished pieces after his death. Fortunately for all of us his sister did not honor that request and today we have one of Chopin’s most beloved pieces. Utako’s skillful and sensitive playing of the Fantasie-Impromptu made it sound like an easy piece. Anything but “easy”. Merging 8 notes in the right hand with 5 or 6 notes in the left hand per bar, plus the speed, makes this a virtuoso piece. The middle section is one of Chopin’s most memorable and beautiful of compositions. Next, Carol shared her research into Chopin and entertained us with quiz questions about the prominent composers/pianists around Chopin’s birth year (1810). Some interesting trivia was shared about Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Schumann. Carol talked about how the word “Ballade” came to be used by Chopin. Towards the close of the session everyone briefly talked about their own ethnic and cultural backgrounds – very interesting and fascinating stories! See you all next time!

Tom Slavicek

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