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Beautiful Music for a Beautiful Fall Day!

Musicale - October 21, 2021 From Beethoven to Alberga!

Ten of us came together today to enjoy each other's piano performances - a great way to learn about specific musical pieces and their composers.

Our first performance was by Michael playing Schumann's Romance No. 2 composed in 1839. When Clara Schumann was on her death bed in 1896 she had requested her grandson to play this Romance for her. It was the last piece of music that she heard before passing. Michael's interpretation was gentle and very romantic - beautifully performed throughout.

Our next performer is Gail bringing us Beethoven's Six Variations Wo07 composed in either his late teens or early 20s. An early composition that Beethoven allowed the performer to add repeats, make changes, etc., as was the custom at the time. There are several interior voices. The first variation is dance like in flavor that is followed by very "Beethovenesque" variations with a "Haydn flavor". He was exploring the variation genre at this time of his life. Gail interpreted these wonderfully, bringing out several 'inner voices'.

Next we heard from Utakpo playing Chopin's Souvenir de Paganini, composed when Chopin was 19 years old. Utako began the piece about a week ago (the rest of us would take months to get this least I [Tom] would). The "Souvenir"s main theme is very familiar, or at least it sounds familiar. The left hand remains mostly the same but the right hand does all the work with variations and "tricky bits". Definitely a concert piece. Utako did very well with only as week's worth of work. We await her next performance when she will be more pleased with it.

Sam was next with a piece by Eric Christian, "Valse de l'adieu". A modern composer with very accessible melodies many of which are "romantic style". He primarily writes film scores. This waltz, deceptively simple in technique, is somewhat melancholy, haunting and contemplative in mood. Sam brought out the intent of the piece very well.

Our final performers were Pam Martin and Kristi Helfen playing Eleanor Alberga's "3 Day Mix" for piano 4-hands. Alberga was born in 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica. Her style is a fusion of Caribbean and European music with African rhythms. This composition was written in three days, hence the title. The initial mood is soft and quiet with slight dissonance, but not intrusive. About a minute into the piece the rhythm speeds up and maintains a lively tempo. One hears some influence from Phillip Glass's works along the way. More and more complex rhythms and hand movements move the piece along as dynamics increase and variation-like melodies take shape. The performance was well balanced between the four hands. Towards the end the piece slows down a bit but then fools us by ending with a flourish - a fun piece. Very well played!

See you next time, all!

Tom Slavicek

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