Thursday, August 24, 2017

Epic Variations, Beethoven and Chopin

Friday, September 29th and Sunday October 1st 
Encore Concert on Monday 2nd, 6pm

Two programs:

"Epic Variations of the 20th Century", 
"Early Beethoven and Late Chopin"

Evgeny Starodubtsev, piano
"An accomplished and probing artist" New York Times 
Winner of at least fifteen International Piano Competitions

Friday 29th September, 6pm

"Early Beethoven - Late Chopin"

Beethoven Early works of Beethoven composed in the late 1790s

Variations on the Theme, "Tändeln und scherzen", from Franz Xaver Süssmayr's opera Soliman II WoO76 (1799)
Sonata no. 2 in A major op.2 no.2 (1796)

Chopin Two works from 1844
Three Mazurkas op. 56
Sonata no. 3 in B minor op. 58.

Sunday October 1st, 6pm*

Frederic Rzewski, 36 Variations on the theme, 
"The People United Will Never Be Defeated"

"... One of the most formidable of all twentieth-century works for the piano."

Frederic Rzewski
Provenance: This epic set of variations was written in 1975 by American composer, Frederic Rzewski. It was inspired by a Chilean protest march which was written in 1973 as part of the movement to overthrow Salvadore Allende. But the work was also written upon a request by pianist, Ursula Oppens, for a companion to Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. Gramophone calls the request 'audacious'. The result is spectacular.

Significance: Rzewski's Variations are regarded as one of the most important works of the twentieth century. The set has been grouped with Bach's Goldbergs and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, holding it out as one of the three major sets of variations for keyboard in musical history. A boxed set of these three works won the Gramophone Recording of the Year award last year.
Igor Levit puts Rzewski with Bach and Beethoven

Sources: The music draws on a wide variety of sources: Beethoven, Chopin, jazz, pop, rock, blues, folk and baroque are a few of the styles and allusions to musical history to be found in the Variations. The structure  of the piece resembles Bach's Goldbergs, with groups of small cycles and a restatement of the main theme at the conclusion of the work (Just as Bach finishes the Goldbergs with a restatement of the Arietta.) Rzewski's variations also resemble Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, with the recurring, rhapsodic Chilean march theme akin to Mussorgsky's Promenade. 

"Exquisite Structure" : According to musicologist, Deng Liang, the Variations have an "exquisite structure"; a unique and intriguing feature: there are six sets of six variations in the work in which the final variation of each cycle of six is a summary of the previous five. And the final set of six is a recapitulation of the previous 30. Each 'white' bar in the diagram below represents the summary, except for the final six, which summarize the previous 30. The final variation, no.36, makes a triumphal return to the opening theme.
Reproduced with permission of Deng Liang and Accelerando journal.

The casual listener will probably not perceive this ingenious structure. But the effect  will certainly appeal - a fast moving, zippy collection of catchy, recurring, tunes.

"Paramount Difficulty": The Variations require a demanding technical virtuosity of 'paramount difficulty', according to musicologist, David Burge.  

Technically, the work is of paramount difficulty. The widespread arpeggios of variations 16 and 18, the Chopinesque sextuplets of variation 21 (marked, correctly, “uncompromising” by the composer), the fast, exposed triplets in variation 22 and 24, and the long double-note passage at the end of variation 27 demand complete pianistic skills.

You can expect, 'complete pianistic skills in the hands of Evgeny. "The People United" is one of the great epic masterpieces for piano of the 20th century; stirring, dramatic, romantic and audacious. Don't miss this performance!

Hat tip: I came across this piece in July at the suggestion of violinist, Leo Phillips. It's not often that a violinist recommends a piano work. So I was quite intrigued, immediately delighted and very soon captivated. I set about looking for someone to play it this year. I contacted five or six pianists. I asked Evgeny if he knew anyone who could play it. "I can," was his response. We are very fortunate that he has time to come at short notice.  

1200 baht for one concert. 2000 baht for both: Book Now!

*Note the slightly later weekend starting time of 6pm in order to enable Pattaya Players audience and cast to attend.
Encore Concert on Monday 2nd, 6pm
The encore concert will run for about 70 minutes and will feature works from both programs, which probably means the whole of the Rzewski and some movements from Beethoven and Chopin concert. However, we might expect a few surprises. Evgeny's wife, Alexandra Lotova, will accompany him and, on the last two visits, she gave two superb performances. Also, Evgeny has just completed learning the complete Scriabin sonata cycle and we might be able to squeeze one out on Monday.

Encore concert is only 500 baht if you've attended any other of Evgeny's two concerts (otherwise 1,200) and all money will go directly to the struggling musician.

Evgeny Starodubtsev is a graduate of piano and composition from Moscow Conservatory. His long list of wins at international piano competitions (at least 15 first prizes) began in 2004 with first prize at the International Piano Competition "Compositores de Espa'a", in Madrid. Since then, the list of first prizes is too extensive to list (never mind second and third prizes!). Here are a few from the last two years:

First Prize, Pietro Argento Competition, Italy, July 2016
First Prize, 10th Sigismund Thalberg International Piano Competition, May 2016
First Prize, 24th Ennio Porrino International Piano Competition, Italy November 2015
First Prize, Palma d'Oro Competition, July 2015
First Prize, Nuova Coppa Pianisti Prize, 2015

And many other prizes in competitions in Spain, Mexico, Canada, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, France, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Serbia amongst other countries.

Evgeny has performed at top venues such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Konzerthaus in Berlin. In addition to being a champion prize fighter, according to Andrey Gugnin, Evgeny is a very fine composer and has composed many symphonic works.

This will be Evgeny's third visit to Eelswamp. He thrilled our audience last year with two fantastic programs and will likely do the same this year. 

Reservations: 1,200 baht for one concert. 2,000 baht for both. Email or call 038 069681 office hours. Due to limited number of places payment must be received before the day.

Directions to Eelswamp: search for 'Eelswamp' on google maps. Directions can be found at the bottom of this page:

Taxi service to EelswampGrabtaxi now working. Just enter "Eelswamp" in the destination box.

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