Buzz

24 May 2017
He may be best known as having written scores for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, and those for almost all of David Cronenberg’s films, but Howard Shore (b1946) also has a sizeable output of works for the stage (notably his opera The F...
24 May 2017
Marketing materials bill this Sony release as containing "two concerti in celebration of Chopin's music" by Howard Shore, best known for the soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings films. Actually, only the opening Ruin & Memory concerto for piano and...
27 Jan 2017
LEGENDARY COMPOSER HOWARD SHORE CELEBRATES THE MUSIC OF CHOPIN WITH THE RELEASE OF ‘TWO CONCERTI’ RUIN & MEMORY WITH PIANIST LANG LANG MYTHIC GARDENS WITH CELLIST SOPHIE SHAO RELEASED FEBRUARY 17, 2017 Pre-Order now from: https://www.amazon.com/...
9 Dec 2016
Cellist Sophie Shao returns for her ninth consecutive appearance on the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series at 3 p.m. this Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Shao is always an audience favorite, and she must have an endless s...
9 Dec 2016
3 p.m. Sunday, cellist Sophie Shao returns for her ninth-consecutive Middlebury College Performing Arts Series appearance, joined by violinist Jennifer Frautschi, violist Dimitri Murrath and pianist Gloria Chien, Robison Hall, Mahaney Center for t...
23 Apr 2012
Interchanging Idioms
Described by the New York Times as “part boot camp for the brain, part spa for the spirit,” the world-renowned Bard Music Festival in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, returns for its 23rd annual season, filling the last two weekends of Bard Summer...
1 Oct 2010
David Finckel and Wu Han Blog
In resonance with one of CMS’s currently ubiquitous street posters describing chamber music as “Small is the New Big”, the Society opened its 41st season with a program of works for intimate ensembles. An enthusiastic, full house thoroughly enjoye...
19 Jan 2009
HughSung.com - Music Meets Tech
As i'm sure my colleague Chris Foley over at The Collaborative Piano Blog will attest, the Collaborative Piano field seems to be growing at an astonishing rate.  What's interesting is the fact that many new collaborative piano programs actually ...
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Buzz

AN IMPRESSIVE SUNLIT DUO AT VASSAR Music review The Millbrook Independent by Kevin T. McEneaney Sun Oct 1st, 2017 On a gorgeous afternoon of clear blue autumn skies, Vassar College’s cellist Sophie Shao teamed up with pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute from Lithuania for afternoon at Skinner Hall. They began with Zoltán Kodály’s Sonatina for cello and piano. A railroad station master’s son, Kodály (1882-1967)so loved music that he taught himself the cello in order to write music. He revisited this unfinished 1910 Sonatina intending to complete the second movement in 1922, but after revising the first movement and completing the second, he decided the revised work had little to do with the original work, and so he let the first movement stand by itself; it is generally thought that this resourceful composition remains thoroughly Hungarian in its pentatonic contours and inspiration, yet there is subliminal presence of Claude Debussy’s coloration shading Hungarian folk tunes. Both performers caught the immediacy that sunlit aura of color in this portrait of Hungarian hills, valleys, and streams. Sonata for solo cello, Op. 8 (1915) is perhaps Kodály’s most famous repertoire piece; he predicted that "in 25 years no cellist will be accepted who has not played it”; its fame was slow to catch on: first played by János Starker in 1939 when Starker was 15, it was not played in the United Sates until 1947, but by 1956 the sonata was a set piece for the Casals Competition in Mexico City. Sophie Shao plays on an Honore Derazy cello, the very one that Pablo Casals had once played. The Sonata wavers between B and B-flat to extend the tonal range of the cello with the lower strings tuned down one semitone. In three movements the cello rides the mountains, hills, and plains of Hungary with nationalist zeal, as in the third movement the Hungarian cavalry rides to the rescue, commemorating the 1456 victory over the invading Ottomans, which is still celebrated to this day on July 22. At that time Pope Callixtus III ordered the bells of every European church to be rung every day at noon as a call for believers to pray for the defenders of the Belgrade; and to this day that is why bells are rung at noon (and in secular imitation fire departments ring their sirens at noon, although they may not know why). Full of fireworks, the range of sounds from low to high and the leaps between high and low notes are breathtaking, evoking sounds that display Kodály’s gifted imagination. Shao had no difficulty conquering this mountain with ease and grace in one of the most technically demanding compositions in the cello repertory (it contains much tour-de-force pizzicato). And she invested it all with deep emotion. After brief intermission, Jokubaviciute joined Shao for Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 5. Beethoven was the first to develop a cello line in his earlier trios and this was the first sonata ever written for the cello as an equal partner in conversation with the piano. Glissando runs of playful feminine joy alternate with the more sober cello in ravishing flirtation. Jokubaviciute ably captured that rapturous, slightly mischievous cheerfulness of happy teen life as Shao recorded the more careful wooing of a possible mate. A standard of every cellist, Antonín Dvorák’s Rondo in G minor, Op. 68, No. 5 was composed on Christmas Day in 1891, just before Dvorák departed to the United States; it was performed at his farewell concert tour before his departure in 1892. This good-humored festive composition, which wavers between despondency and optimism, eventually conjures such sheer cheer that one cannot resist a smile when it is played with the synchronous buoyancy that Shao and Jokubaviciute conjured. They concluded with Dvorák’s Silent Woods in D-flat Major, Op. 68, No. 5 which describes a Thoreau-like transcendent walk in the woods with delicious melody, vivid syncopations, and a gently plodding bass line from the cello which conjure footfall steps in the Czech woods. While Dvorák, a viola player, wrote few works for the cello, those works he did write project remarkable contentment, amusement, and delight—here captured by two players whose instruments were linked in glee.

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