Friday, June 20, 2014

Intermezzo : Sunday, March 8 @ 3pm

Marguerite Richardson, violin 
Scott Watkins, piano 
JU Faculty Arists

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BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonata No. 4 in A minor, op. 23
        1. Presto 
        2. Andante scherzoso, più allegretto 
        3. Allegro molto

BRAHMS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, op. 78 ("Rain Sonata")
        1. Vivace ma non troppo 
        2. Adagio 
        3. Allegro molto moderato
                                                -BRIEF INTERMISSION-
DVOŘÁK: Sonatina in G Major, op. 100
        1. Allegro risoluto 
        2.  Larghetto
        3. Molto vivace 
        4. Allegro

A member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra since 1990, violinist Marguerite Richardson began her violin studies at the age of four. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music degree from the University of South Carolina, and the Doctor of Music degree from The Florida State University. Dr. Richardson has performed symphonic and chamber music throughout the United States, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and China. She has appeared as soloist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in performances of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, Vivaldi’s Summer Concerto from The Four Seasons, and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins. Dr. Richardson has appeared as recitalist and chamber musician in several venues in the north Florida area, including the St. Augustine Music Festival, the Chamber Music Society of Good Shepherd, and the Friday Musicale. In addition to her extensive performance schedule, Dr. Richardson began and developed the string program at the University of North Florida (1995-2003), teaches with the Prelude Chamber Music Camp, and appears as an Associate Conductor with the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2007, Dr. Richardson joined the faculty of Jacksonville University, where she is Assistant Professor of Strings and serves as Music Director of the Jacksonville University Orchestra.  In the summer of 2012, Dr. Richardson was Visiting Foreign Scholar at Beifang University (Yin Chuan, Ningxia Province, China) and Visiting Professor of Ningxia Teachers University (Guyuan, Ningxia Province, China). Dr. Richardson taught master classes and presented two recitals during her visit.

Scott Watkins, Assistant Professor of Piano at Jacksonville University, is well known to First Coast audiences for his appearances with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, his numerous solo recitals, and his frequent collaborations with many of the areas finest singers and instrumentalists. His 1985 U.S. debut, an all-Bach recital given in Chicago, was broadcast live nationwide, and has been followed by a steady flow of solo and concerto performances in North and South America, Europe and the Caribbean. He has been heard often in the United States and Canada on National Public Radio and Television, and in South America and Europe on The Voice of America. Dr. Watkins is the recipient of numerous awards, including the John Philip Sousa Award for Outstanding American Musicians, Rotary Club of Florida's Annual Artistic Merit Award, and France's Jeunesse Musicales. In 1985, he became the youngest winner ever of The U.S. Department of State's Artistic Ambassador Award. His degrees include a Bachelor of Music from the University of Cincinnati, Master of Music from University of South Carolina, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Florida State University.

PROGRAM NOTES, by Edward Lein, Music Librarian

The Transcendent German-born composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) began his compositional career essentially imitating the styles and forms he inherited from Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and W.A Mozart (1756-1791), but during his "middle" period (ca. 1803-1815) Beethoven expanded and personalized this inheritance, creating works that have come to represent the culmination of the Classical style in much the same way that the works of J.S. Bach (1685-1750) represent the culmination of the Baroque. During Beethoven's "late" period (ca. 1815-1827), he discovered new paths toward still more personal, even intimate, musical expression, and, despite the gradual and eventually total degeneration of his hearing, he forged the way beyond the Classical tradition into the Romantic.

Beethoven began work on both his 4th and 5th violin sonatas in the summer of 1800, while he also worked on his Symphony No. 2, Op. 21 and the ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43. The two violin sonatas were intended as contrasting companion pieces and initially were grouped together as the composer’s “Opus 23.” But the violin part of the brightly lyrical Sonata No. 5 in F major (now known as the “Spring” Sonata) mistakenly was printed using an oblong format rather than the tall format used for the darkly dramatic Sonata No. 4. This made it impossible to bind the two sonatas together, and it was cheaper to assign them separate opus numbers rather than re-engraving them. Thus, the fifth sonata became “Opus 24,” while the fourth kept the original work number.

Although Beethoven’s Sonata No. 4 dates from his “early” period, contemporary critics were already making note of the composer’s originality, even when they didn’t quite understand his innovations. The key of A-minor was a rare choice for chamber music compositions, made even more unusual by Beethoven’s retention of the minor mode for the first movement’s “second subject,” which is introduced in E-minor rather than in the “expected” relative major key centered on C. And although Beethoven retains the 3-movement outline favored by his mentors rather than using the 4-movement scheme with an added scherzo movement that he later seemed to prefer (and which he uses in the “Spring” Sonata No. 5), he nonetheless interjects the jesting spirit of a scherzo into the slower-paced middle movement.

SCORE (pdf): Beethoven Sonata No. 4, Op. 23

At a time when it was fashionable to write programmatic music that illustrated specific scenes, poems or stories, the great German composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was recognized by his admirers as “Beethoven’s true heir” (Grove Concise Dictionary of Music) by demonstrating that established abstract formal procedures could be used to organize musical discourse without sacrificing the passion and deeply individualistic expression that defines 19th-Century Romantic music. Thus, Brahms joined Bach and Beethoven as one of the great “Three B’s” of classical music.

For many of us, summer vacations might provide a good time to "vegetate," in the sense of "idly lulling about." But for Brahms sunny rural retreats sparked his musical inspiration to "bloom and grow" into some of his most ingratiating works, including his three violin sonatas. Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in G Major, op. 78 was written in response to Italian sojourns during the summers of 1878 and 1879. Among his most ingratiating works, it has been nicknamed the "Rain" Sonata because Brahms used thematic material drawn from his Regenlied ("Rain Song").

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) is an immensely popular Czech composer who fused melodic and rhythmic elements of Bohemian folk music with classical symphonic forms. As his international reputation flourished, Dvořák was invited to New York City to become director of the National Conservatory of Music from 1892 to 1895. He used the opportunity to familiarize himself with indigenous American music, especially African-American work songs and Spirituals and melodies and drum rhythms of Native Americans. Dvořák wrote several newspaper articles promoting the idea that these could support a uniquely American style of concert music. He put his theory to the test in his most famous work, the New World Symphony, op. 95, as well as in the "American" String Quartet, op. 96 and "American" String Quintet, op. 97, all composed in 1893.

Completed that same year, Dvořák wanted his "opus 100" landmark to have personal significance, so he wrote it for his children, and his daughter Ottilie and son Toník premiered the work in a private performance in their home. Although the Sonatina, op. 100 lacks the "American" nickname it is infused with similar New World characteristics, such a syncopated dance rhythms and tunes derived from the pentatonic scale (like you get when you play only the black keys of the piano) and with repeated notes said to be reminiscent of Native tom toms. Neatly laid out in the tidy, four-movement "sonata" structure that Beethoven had popularized, it has become Dvořák's most popular work for violin and piano.

When presenting the work to his publisher, Dvořák commented that it is "intended for young people (dedicated to my children) but grown-ups, too, let them get what enjoyment they can out of it." Having no doubt that grown-ups would indeed enjoy it, the publisher (Simrock) also issued the second-movement Larghetto separately (without the composer's permission) as "Indian Canzonetta." Called "Indian Lullaby" by Fritz Kreisler and also performed as "Indian Lament," it's said that Dvořák jotted the main tune on his shirt sleeve while visiting Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota.

SCORE (pdf): Dvořák: Sonatina, op. 100

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