Master's Recital Music Videos

Since there are several haters out there who doubt that I can play piano, here, finally, is video evidence from a recent recital. In case you're confused, I'm the tall guy at the keyboard wearing all black.

Any mistakes, ensemble slipups, or counting errors are solely my fault, and in no way reflect on Sonja. (I said I could play; I didn't say anything about playing well.) Make sure to buy a bunch of hand lotion and Kleenex before listening to these masterpieces.

Master's Recital: Debussy, Bach, and Shostakovich

For those of you in Bloomington, I will be accompanying for a cellist's master's recital here at the Jacobs School of Music. The program features a sonata by Debussy so unbelievably colorful and vivid, your synesthesia will go haywire; some of the clearest, most soul-refreshing chamber music by Bach; and everyone's favorite, Shostakovich's colossal cello concerto no. 1, which, in classical music terms, is known as a bodice-ripper.

To bring you this, we've put in countless hours of arduous, painstaking practice, endured invective, censorship, and misunderstanding from the most trenchant of critics, and gone through long nights of rehearsal punctuated by hours of bickering and quarreling, torn sheet music and thrown metronomes - but always followed by tearful reconciliation. Has it been worth it? Heck yes. But then again, I'll let you all be the judge of that.

When: 7:00pm, Friday, November 8th
Where: Recital Hall, ground floor of Merrill Hall (1201 E 10th St)
Who: Andy Jahn, Piano; Sonja Kraus, Cello

===== Program =====

Debussy: Sonata for Cello and Piano
I. Prologue: Sostenuto e molto risoluto
II. Sérénade
III. Finale: Animé: Léger et nerveux

Bach: Gamba Sonata No. 1 in G Major for Cello and Piano
I. Adagio non troppo
II. Allegro, ma non tanto
III. Andante quasi Lento
IV. Allegro moderato

Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 107
I. Allegretto
II. Moderato
III. Cadenza
IV. Allegro con moto

Tonight's Entertainment

For those of you in the Bloomington area, I'll be accompanying for a senior cello recital at the Jacobs School of Music Recital Hall. The program includes, among other pieces, the Strauss Cello Sonata. This piece is rarely recorded or performed, due to some tricky passagework for both instruments and a notoriously difficult piano part (see, for example, the stormy middle section in the following video starting at about 3:10). But, I also happen to be kind of stupid, so I play stuff like this regardless. No fear, baby!

Where: Recital Hall, Jacobs School of Music
When: Saturday, March 23rd, 10:00pm


J. S. Bach: Suite No. 5 for Unaccompanied Cello in C Minor, BMV 1101

Gaspar Cassado: Suite for Solo Cello

Richard Strauss: Sonata for Cello and Piano in F Major, Op. 6

     I. Allegro con brio
     II. Andante ma non troppo
     III. Allegro vivo

Recital Pics

Here are a few pictures that were taken from the recital on Monday:

Taking a bow. We spent a few weeks choreographing this.

Starting things off; Mendelssohn, I think.

The rest of these are from the Grieg. Note that there is no page turner, even though my score runs for forty-five pages; by the end of the night my page-turning muscles would be bathed in lactic acid.

I know what you're thinking: What was the greater risk in your life; Playing without a page-turner, or taking a leak in the locker room shower your senior year? Difficult to say, my friends. Difficult to say.

Stage Fright

And there you idly sit by the exit sign off of stage right, waiting for the auditorium to fill up; a gradual crescendo in mutterings, greetings, tappings on keypads as the audience swells and the air becomes charged with a strange electricity. Check your watch; only a few minutes remaining. No time to go get a drink or squeeze the lemon; everything you have on you and inside you, goes with you out onto the stage. In a cruel trick of nature, the hands become clammy and cold; those precious extremities that you need under these extreme conditions seem to rebel against you, as the lily-livered blood is able to squirrel itself away deep within your core while the rest of your exposed, unfortunate flesh has nowhere to hide while it faces the enemy. Deserters! Turncoats! Traitors!

Suddenly you become aware of the stage technician repeating a question to you, his tone more insistent; he could have been talking for ages, as far as you're concerned. You nod to him, and the house lights are extinguished - ker-chunk, ker-chunk - you take one deep breath - make that two deep breaths, an additional one for good measure - and walk out onto the stage. The applause rumbles and swells and for a few moments it is a supremely pleasant experience, standing there in the blinding klieg lights and completely unable to see anyone in the audience, only hearing the disembodied plaudits and cheers of the crowd. The walk-on and bow is incredibly easy for any fully functioning, ambulatory being, and were it up to me I would continue to stand there and bow, and let the applause continue.

But it is only a short bow - two bows, an additional one just to make sure - and then its time to seat yourself down on the firm black vinyl of the bench, briefly imagining what other callipygian musicians have sat there as you mindlessly twist the adjustment knobs on the sides. Up a little, down a little, to the side a little, if that option were present. Place your hands upon those surprisingly cool keys, while wondering whether the tremors quivering throughout your body are noticeable by anyone else, or merely insensate. Lastly - and this is the benefit of performing chamber music with a fellow sufferer - you make eye contact with your partner and nod. And then away you go.

As I am happy to rediscover every time, the actual performance is never as horrific as it is played out in my most disturbed nightmares; and although it presents its fair share of anxieties and mistakes and recoveries, it is, on the whole, tremendous fun. The well-timed execution of choreographed looks and gestures, the spontaneous phrasings that you would never have imagined possible, the beautiful chiaroscuro of the piano keys from the angled light, the feeling of having the audience completely enthralled - this is all that is needed to form a healthy and robust stage addiction.

And when the last note is played and the final cadence still reverberates through the air, those few pregnant moments before the cascade of applause are some of the most savory, delicious seconds I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. And even after all of that backbreaking preparation, the cold and windy walks to and from the practice building, the anxiety and worry and the acrid taste of adrenaline in the back of my throat - all I can do is look forward to the next time I hold such ecstatic, terrifying congress with the Muse.

Livestream Link

Just a quick update on the cello recital post yesterday: We have a livestream link for the show which will begin streaming at 5pm EST.

It begins with a solo Bach suite, then the Debussy cello sonata (which Wendelin will accompany), and then a couple of pieces by Respighi and Schumann (which I'll be accompanying for). Click on the link at 5pm, and you should be able to see everything that's going on!

Senior Cello Recital

Tomorrow, Saturday, December 1st, at 5:00pm, I will be accompanying a cellist for his senior recital at Recital Hall. We've put a lot of work into the program, and we think it'll be a great show! (Actually, it has to be, or we don't get paid.) In any case, the music is guaranteed to entertain, enliven, edify, etiolate, and shock the listener; and we hope that you enjoy it as much as we've enjoyed putting it together!

What: Senior Cello Recital, featuring the music of Bach, Debussy, Respighi, and Schumann
Where: Recital Hall, Jacobs School of Music (1201 E. 3rd Street)
Who: Ryan Fitzpatrick (cello), Andrew Jahn & Wendelen Kwek (piano)

Link to the Facebook invite can be found here; we're working on getting up a livestream, which will be posted as soon as it's available.

Chopin: Nocturne in E-flat Major

This is probably one of the best-known and best-loved out of all Chopin's nocturnes - rightly so. Although it has been overplayed to death, and although several performances suffer from excruciatingly slow tempi, no one can deny its elegance and charm.

The architecture is straightfoward enough: an A section which repeats, followed by a B section, then A again, then B, and a coda, in a form technically known as rounded binary. Chopin's genius lies in keeping the same harmonic foundation in each repeated section while progressively ornamenting the melody, finding ways to keep it fresh and exciting every time it returns. Finally, elements of both themes in the A and B sections are combined into a wonderful coda (listen for them!), becoming increasingly agitated until reaching an impassioned dominant, prepared by a c-flat anticipation held for an almost ridiculous amount of time.

Almost - Chopin, as well as Beethoven, is a master at reaching the fine line separating drama and melodrama, pathos and sentimentality, without going over the edge. The famous cadenza - a four-note motif marked senza tempo during which time stands still - repeats faster and faster, more and more insistent, until finally relenting, and finding its way back to a tender, emotional reconciliation with the tonic.