Friday, August 30, 2013

Tuesday Serenade, January 7, 2014 @ 7pm

 Min Young Cho, violin & Eun Mi Lee, Piano

Franz Schubert 
   Sonatina for Piano and Violin Op. post.137, No.1, D. 384
     Allegro molto - Andante - Allegro vivace
     [recording/scores at]

Josef Suk 
   Appassionato Op.17, No.2 
   Burleska Op.17, No.4 
   [scores at]

Felix Mendelssohn 
   Sonata in F major for Violin and Piano (1838)
     Allegro vivace - Adagio - Allegro vivace
     [click links for YouTube performances]

Dr. Min Young Cho is a native of Seoul, Korea, and she has performed with many orchestras in her homeland, including the Korean-American Youth Orchestra, Gwacheon Youth Orchestra, Seoul National Symphony Orchestra, Korean Philharmonic Orchestra and Gangneung Philharmonic Orchestra. Her talent as an ensemble player remains much in demand, and she often serves as concertmaster or assistant concertmaster for many of the orchestras she plays with. She regularly performs with a number of chamber and symphony orchestras in North Florida, including Tallahassee Bach Parley, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Gulf Coast, as well as with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and Panama City Pops Orchestra. As a guest solo artist, other recital engagements have included appearances at Chipola College (Marianna, Florida) and Valdosta State University (Valdosta, Georgia), and for Jacksonville Public  Library's December 2012 Promenade! concert she performed in a trio recital.

As a winner of the American Fine Arts Festival, Dr. Cho performed at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall), and also was awarded an AFAF Summer Music Courses in Europe scholarship. Other competition wins include the Korea Music Competition, the Chungbu Conservatory Competition, and the Music World Newspaper Company’s Competition. Dr. Cho received her Bachelor of Music degree from Dankook University in Korea, and both her master's and doctoral degrees from Florida State University, where she also has taught as a Graduate Assistant. Her principal teachers have included Corinne Stillwell, Karen Clarke and Daesik Kang.

In her native South Korea, Eun Mi Lee received a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano from Ewha Women’s University, and a Master of Music degree in Piano Accompanying on scholarship at Sungshin Women’s University.  In 2007, Ms. Lee was accepted into the Master’s program at Florida State University's College of Music, working closely with Valerie M. Trujillo, the Grammy-nominated associate professor of vocal coaching and accompanying.  Eun Mi Lee is continuing her post-graduate studies at FSU, where she is a doctoral candidate.

A passionate accompanist and teacher, she began working with faculty artists and student performers at Baekseok Conservatory, Muyngji University, and University of Seoul, and she has been a member of Korea Collaborative Pianists Association since 2002. Much in demand as a collaborative artist, Ms. Lee has pursued an interest in performing new music, and recorded Soo Jin Cho's 2-piano work, Exodus, released by the Society of Composers, Inc., in March 2010, on an album entitled Mosaic.

In addition to numerous symphonies, chamber works, masses, and solo piano music, the Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed over 600 songs in his short life, and he has remained unsurpassed in the ability to marry poetry with music. Even Beethoven, who apparently never met the younger composer, touted Schubert's genius when he was given some of Schubert's songs shortly before his death. Although Schubert was virtually unknown to the general public, his music was regularly performed in private concerts for Vienna’s musical elite, and by 1825 he was in negotiations with four different publishers. But the bulk of Schubert's masterworks remained unpublished at the time of his death, so he generally had had to depend on his devoted circle of friends to help maintain his finances. After Schubert died, probably from medicinal mercury poisoning, his wish to be buried next to Beethoven, who had died just the previous year, was honored.

Austrian musicologist Otto Erich Deutsch (1883-1967) prepared a chronological thematic catalog of Schubert's total output, which now includes 998 pieces altogether. Considering the generous bulk of Schubert's oeuvre, it is surprising that only eight of the nearly 1,000 works are for a solo instrument with piano. Of the six duos from among these that are for violin and piano, four are sonatas, and, given Schubert's proficiency on the violin as well as piano, they are perfectly idiomatic to the forces at hand. In 1836, Diabelli issued the first three sonatas, all composed in March and April 1816, renaming them Sonatinas, Op. 137, probably to better whet the growing appetites of amateur players.

Josef Suk (1874-1935) was a Czech composer and violinist who began his music studies with his father. Suk entered the Prague Conservatory at age 11, where his teachers included Antonin Dvořák, who provided the greatest influence on Suk's early, nationalistic style. Dvořák considered Suk his best student, and in addition to becoming friends, Dvořák also became Suk's father-in-law in 1898. Suk's compositional style became more cosmopolitan during the last few years of the 19th Century, and even more so following Dvořák's death in 1904, and the death of Suk's wife, Otilie, in 1905. Now known as a chief representative of Czech Modernism, Suk became a professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory in 1922, where he served as head from 1924-1926, and again from 1933-1935.

Suk also enjoyed a career as 2nd Violinist with the internationally-famous Czech Quartet for four decades, so it is surprising that he wrote relatively little chamber music. Considered Suk's first mature chamber composition, his set, Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 17, dates from 1900. In addition to the Appassionato (No.2) and Burleska (No.4), the other pieces are Quasi Ballata (No. 1) and Un poco triste (No. 3). Except for a brief Minuet (1919), Suk wrote no other music specifically for his own instrument and piano.

The prodigious musical talents of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) rivaled those of Mozart, and like Mozart, Mendelssohn did not live to see his 40th birthday. But his affluent German family provided young Felix with an intellectually stimulating and stable environment, and protected him from the childhood exploitation that Mozart endured. At sixteen, Mendelssohn produced his first masterwork, the Octet for Strings, Op. 20, and the following year saw the completion of the brilliant A Midsummer Night’s Dream concert overture. In terms of achieving his musical maturity, Mendelssohn surpassed even Mozart. He grew into a superstar composer, pianist, organist and conductor, and he also founded Germany's first conservatory, located in Leipzig.

The first two of Mendelssohn‘s three sonatas for violin and piano were composed at ages 11 and 16 respectively. The Sonata in F minor dates from 1838 and is a work of his maturity, but it was never submitted for publication by the composer, nor does it appear to have been performed prior to its rediscovery by British virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin in the early 1950s. This has caused some to ponder why Mendelssohn might have “rejected” so fine a work, but it is much more likely that the composer simply never found time to revise the Sonata to his full satisfaction. Unlike so many composers, Mendelssohn did not depend on the publication of his works for income, so he had the luxury of taking as much time as he wanted to refine various details—e.g., even though Mendelssohn first conducted his ever-popular “Italian” Symphony (No. 4) in 1833, he still was withholding it from publication at the time of his death 14 years later! 

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