Itzhak Perlman in recital
Presentation of the concert
BEETHOVEN, Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12 No. 1
FRANCK, Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major
TARTINI, Sonata in G Minor for Violin and Continuo, “Devil’s Trill”
Regarded as one of the greatest virtuosos of our time, Itzhak Perlman is known for the intensity of his playing and for the contagious joy he brings to his performances. The winner of four Emmys and 15 Grammys, and featured as the unforgettable soloist in Schindler’s List, the legendary musician will offer an intimate recital.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Born in Bonn, December 16, 1770
Died in Vienna, March 26, 1827
Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12 No. 1
Allegro con brio
Tema con variazioni : Andante con moto
As a young man, Beethoven dreamt of traveling to Vienna to study with Mozart. Unfortunately, Mozart passed away before Beethoven was able to move to Vienna. Upon his departure in 1792, his patron Count Waldstein wrote, “Through uninterrupted diligence you will receive Mozart’s spirit through Haydn’s hands.” While in Vienna, the young Beethoven unquestionably absorbed principles of Classical construction from Haydn, and he took studied with numerous other renowned musicians, including Antonio Salieri (composition) and Ignaz Schuppanzigh (violin).
Over the course of his career, Beethoven composed ten sonatas for violin and piano. Most of these are early works and are strongly marked by the influence of the Classical composers; however, even in the first of these sonatas, Op. 12 No. 1 (1797-87, dedicated to Salieri), we can see Beethoven inserting his individual stamp on the genre in terms of form, harmony, and the relationship between the violin and the piano. In Beethoven’s sonata Op. 12 No. 1, the violin assumes an important role, equal to that of the piano, a characteristic absent from many earlier examples of the genre.
At the beginning of the sonata, a bold unison gesture gives way to a lyrical melody presented first in the violin. Throughout this first movement, the violin and piano share equally in the presentation of the thematic material. This movement contains a remarkable passage in F major, a key that is quite distant from the tonic, D major. The second movement, a theme and variations, explores different characters ranging from calm to terrifying. After an excursion to A minor, the piece returns to A major for the final variation. The final movement is a playful rondo. With its distinctive syncopated sforzandi, the main theme is easily recognizable when it returns over the course of the movement.
Born in Liège, December 10, 1822
Died in Paris, November 18, 1890
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major
Allegretto ben moderato
Allegretto poco mosso
Although trained as a pianist, Franck spent most of his professional life playing the organ and teaching composition at the Paris Conservatoire. Franck did not easily achieve recognition for his compositions. In fact, he wrote most of his well-known works – including his Symphony in D minor (1886-88) and his Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major (1886) – when he was in his 60s.
Franck composed his violin sonata as a wedding present for the Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. After a quick rehearsal, Ysaÿse performed the sonata at his own ceremony. The four movements of this sonata, like so many of Franck’s large-scale works, are cyclic in nature, as the thematic material in each of the movements is derived from the same motivic material. The first movement begins with a short piano introduction. The violin then presents a gentle, barcarolle-like theme that will evolve and develop throughout the course of the entire sonata. The fiery, passionate second movement contrasts sharply with the first movement in terms of character. The harmonic language of the improvisatory third movement is strongly reminiscent of Liszt and Wagner, two composers who strongly influenced Franck. The final movement displays Franck’s considerable contrapuntal skills: the main theme is a canon, with one instrument introducing the melody and the other playing the same material one measure later.
Born in Pirano, April 8, 1692
Dead in Padoue, February 26, 1770
Sonata in G Minor for Violin and Continuo, “Devil’s Trill” (arr. Fritz Kreisler)
According to legend, the Italian composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini dreamt one night that the Devil came to him and played a melody that was so beautiful and virtuosic that it took Tartini’s breath away. The composer immediately awoke and attempted to play the Devil’s music on his own violin, a magnificent instrument made by Antonio Stradivari in 1715. What remains of this dream is the “Devil’s Trill” sonata. This sonata is indeed devilishly difficult. The double stop trills, legato string crossings, and quick grace notes require a level of virtuosity that is uncommon in the Baroque violin literature. Tartini was, in fact, a great violin teacher. He opened a violin school in 1726, and students came from all over Europe to learn technique at the hands of this great violinist.
This three-movement sonata begins with a somber slow movement, Larghetto affettuoso. The second movement, Allegro energico, alternates between dramatic and flowing passages. The final movement opens with a slow introduction before making way to the Allegro assai, with its infamous trills and cadenza. The movement concludes with a return of the material from the slow introduction.
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