Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two grand works for keyboard: Goldbergs and Rachmaninoff Second Sonata

Only a few seat remaining

Eri Nakagawa, piano

plays two of the greatest works for keyboard:

Bach's Goldberg Variations


Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Sonata

at Eelswamp, 

Sunday 20th April, 5pm

Pianist, Eri Nakagawa, is a member of the piano faculty of College of Music, Mahidol University. She has been a faculty member since 1995.  Prior to her appointment at Mahidol she was Assistant Professor of Music Performance at Ball State University, Indiana, USA.  She received the 1992 Ball State New Faculty Creative Arts Award. She has frequently performed in recitals and as a soloist with orchestras. She has made several superb performances of both works on this program.

Bach's Goldberg Variations are among the composer's most substantial works for keyboard and, indeed, among the most famous works for keyboard in the entire classical keyboard/piano literature.

The work comprises a theme and 30 variations, quite probably written in two distinct parts at different periods of the composer's life. This theory is supported by the unusual inclusion of an Overture in the middle of the work. The second section contains the slow variation, Variation no. 25, the 'the soul' of the work, otherwise referred to by famous harpsichordist, Wanda Landowska, as 'The Black Pearl' with its haunting, introspective melody. 

The work culminates in a mighty crescendo spanning the penultimate last four variations. These four variations (Variations 26 - 29) display remarkable technical ingenuity, including a canon in 9ths (that is, the same theme played at the interval of one octave and one note), a variation with butterfly-like trills in the outer voices and the colossal Variation no.29, which requires the piano performer to play the left hand between the splayed fingers of the right hand. These climactic four variations give way to a rousing march-like theme, the Quodlibet, which is based on a medley of drinking songs, one of which is a lament to reluctant vegetarianism:

"Cabbage and turnips have driven me away, 
had my mother cooked meat, 
I'd have been happy to stay"

The work then fades away with its lullaby aria.

The Goldberg variations have been recorded by more than 130 harpsichordists and pianists but were immortalized by Glenn Gould's 1981 recording. Watch this recording and you will see that the Goldberg Variations are not only sublime music, they are also an acrobatic feat: superb to hear and watch!

Rachmaninoff's Second Sonata stands out in the piano literature as the last great romantic piano sonata. Written 160 years after Bach's death, the style of the sonata is in stark contrast to the Goldbergs. But it is similarly virtuosic, extending the technical parameters of the day, just as the Goldbergs did.

The sonata comprises three movements: two tempestuous movements seamlessly flanking a dreamy, but briefly stormy, slow movement. This sonata was a favourite of Horowitz who popularized it and edited his own version of the work, as did Van Cliburn. David Dubal, Horowitz's biographer, called the third movement, one of Rachmaninoff's 'most electrifying' works.

Tickets: 1,000 baht baht per person, limited to 30. Children six years and above will be admitted provided they can sit still.

Reservation: Email or call 038 069681 office hours. Due to limited number of places payment must be received before the day.


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