It's hard to imagine a more fulfilling Sunday afternoon than listening to a concert at the Terrace Theater featuring violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Orion Weiss at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
This will be the kickoff recital of the 2023-24 season (the 41st) of the Fortas Chamber Music concerts, Jennifer Koh Artistic Director.
Grammy award winner Augustin Hadelich is a phenomenal violinist and Orion Weiss a “brilliant pianist” (NYT). Their program is a fascinating blend of styles, from two traditional violin sonatas to eclectic repertoire by three American composers.
The concert begins with Beethoven’s tenth and last Violin Sonata, a truly lovely work full of passion and beauty. Beethoven wrote it in 1812, perhaps in the throes of emotion for the mysterious “distant beloved”. He composed the Sonata for the popular French violinist Pierre Rode. As he told his friend and patron, Archduke Rudolph, who was to play the piano part, “I had to consider the playing of Rode. In our finales we like rushing and resounding passages, but this does not please R[ode] and—this hinders me somewhat.” He compromised with a set of seven variations and then let loose with a lively coda.
“Wind passing through a graveyard,” is Prokofiev’s explanation of an eerie violin effect in the first and last movements of his first Violin Sonata, which he began in 1938 (think Stalin) and finished in 1946 (the aftermath of WWII). In certain passages, he claimed that the piano should “sound in such a way that people should jump in their seat, and people will say ‘Is he out of his mind?’” The great violinist David Oistrakh premiered the Sonata and later performed the first and 3rd movements at Prokofiev’s funeral.
Three additional works on the program demonstrate the performers’ range, from the delightfully Hendrix-like Filter written for Hadelich by Daniel Bernard Roumain, to John Adams’ Road Movies, premiered in 1995 at the Terrace Theater. Adams’ style is immediately recognizable in this whimsical work. “Road Music is travel music, music that is comfortably settled in a pulse groove and passes through harmonic and textural regions as one would pass through a landscape on a car trip” wrote Adams. I can guarantee you wont' be asking “are we there yet?” when you hear it!
Lastly, as a parting gift, the pair will play Amy Beach’s Romance, a gorgeously passionate piece she premiered in 1893 with violinist Maud Powell at the Women’s Musical Congress at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Sonata No.10 in G major, Op.96
John Adams: Road Movies
Daniel Bernard Roumain: Filter
Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.80
Amy Beach: Romance, Op.23
Sunday, October 15, 2:00 Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
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