Scarlatti Brahms Schumann Scriabin[CD]
~ Jason Paul Peterson
Sonata in C Major, K. 159 Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) Domenico Scarlatti, son of the great opera composer Alessandro Scarlatti, composed at least 555 sonatas for keyboard (primarily harpsichord), although only a small fraction were published during his lifetime. Scarlatti spent the majority of his life in Spain, and as a result these sonatas, most of which are single-movement works in binary form, often display traits of Iberian music. The charming C Major sonata, K. 159, is no exception. Although it is based upon a trumpet-like hunting call, the music develops using figurations, harmonies, and repetition reminiscent of Spanish guitars. Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79 Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Brahms composed these two well-known works in 1879, at his favorite resort in Pörtschach, and gave the first performance himself in 1880. He dedicated them to his friend Elizabeth von Herzogenberg, who suggested he call them Rhapsodies. The title typically describes a work of improvisatory, free-form structure, but these two pieces are actually very carefully structured. Both feature an ABA form with an A section containing two contrasting themes-- in a sense, sonata form. These dramatic works represent Brahms at his most mature, although one can easily see why Brahms' friend Theodor Billroth stated that they remind him of the "young, heaven-storming Johannes." Kreisleriana, Op. 16 Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Schumann's Kreisleriana, composed in a brief flurry of inspiration in 1838, ranks as one of the most uniquely creative works of the composer's entire output. Schumann drew influence for the work from E.T.A. Hoffmann's fictional character Johannes Kreisler - an eccentric, passionate Kapellmeister completely devoted to art, but with a rather tenuous grasp of reality. In Hoffmann's novel Kater Murr, for example, Kreisler decides to publish his memoirs, but is unaware that the household cat had scrawled his own interpretation of the events on the back sides of the paper! Unsurprisingly, Schumann's imagination was captured by Hoffmann's eccentric writings. These eight movements, wildy divergent in mood and adventurous in harmony, provide the listener with a kaleidoscopic view of the impassioned, fantastical life of Kreisler. A musical portrait of Schumann himself would probably sound quite similar. Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) Prelude and Nocturne, Opus 9 nos. 1 and 2 Few composers have been the subject of such interest, debate, and speculation as Scriabin. According to the Julian calendar, he was born on Christmas and died on Easter- rather fitting dates for a man who believed himself to be a sort of Messiah. He reported seeing distinct colors when hearing music- a phenomenon known as synesthesia. Always interested in mysticism, he spent his last years planning a multi-media work entitled the Mysterium that was meant to occur in the Himalayas and bring about a sort of apocalypse. His compositional style underwent a great transformation throughout his life; while his early works are very much in the vein of Chopin and Liszt, his enigmatic later compositions are based on a novel system of harmony and are often mystical, transcendent, and frenetic in character. Early on in his pianistic career Scriabin seriously injured his right hand due to excessive practicing. He wrote these two short pieces so that he might have something to continue working on, and he often performed them on tours. Their great popularity and lyricism gained him a reputation as the "left-handed Chopin." They are carefully constructed so as to give the illusion of a two-handed performance. ABOUT THE ARTIST Jason Paul Peterson began piano studies at the age of five. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Peabody Conservatory, as well as degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the Eastman School of Music. As a Fulbright Scholar he studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Weimar, Germany. He is the first four-time young artist grant recipient from the Chopin Foundation of the U.S., winner of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, and a prizewinner in the Grace Welsh International Piano Competition. Recent performances have taken him to Germany, France, Austria, Mexico, England, Slovenia, and in the U.S. at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Dame Myra Hess series of the Chicago Cultural Center. His teachers include Anton Nel, Natalya Antonova, Alexander Shtarkman, and Grigory Gruzman.
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