An avid chamber musician, pianist Christopher Guzman honors Blanco Performing Arts as its artist to conclude its 2010-11 concert series; Guzman will appear this Saturday evening at 7:30 in the Uptown Blanco Ballroom. His stellar program praises Schubert, Griffes, and Prokofiev.
During his short lifetime of only 31 years, Franz Schubert was known most widely for his vocal solos, and his piano sonatas were eclipsed in popularity by those of his idol, Beethoven. In fact, only three of his ten sonatas were published during his life; however, interest in these works increased in the decades following his death. The Sonata in G major D. 894 appeared in 1827 in four movements: Fantasie, Andante, Menuetto, and Allegretto. Fantasie’s opening dances and surges to a barely audible close. In Andant, violent interruptions and hammered chords intrude upon the sweet opening melody. The shortest movement, Menuett,o dances with rustic simplicity. The sonata dances to an understated ending in Allegretto after a series of interchanges between the high and low voices of the piano.
Piano Sonata from 1919 by Charles Tomlinson Griffes, the “American Impressionist,” is a late Romantic powerhouse. Born in New York, Griffes studied in Germany and came under the influence of the French and Russian composers of the time. This, his only piano sonata, is an astonishing and frightening work,applying exotic Orientalism with American jazz influences. Griffes, who passed away at age 35 in 1920, a victim of the influenza epidemic, based this work on a synthetic scale, a technique of early 20th century composers in which a new scale is invented for a particular piece.
Russian composer, pianist, and conductor Sergei Prokofiev was born in the Ukraine in 1891 and passed away March 5, 1953, the same day that Stalin died. His innovative style ranged over a wide expanse of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces. Prokofiev is well known for Peter and the Wolf, in which a narrator and orchestra bring the personalities of a Russian folk tale to life. Although a storyline is not present in his Piano Sonata No. 4 in C Minor, it is inhabited by a variety of characters. The first movement’s opening eight-note idea begins with a short, recurring rumble, which ebbs and flows between introspective and agitated. The slow middle movement is introduced by ominous repeated chords in the lower range, which threaten a comeback during the haunting melody; sweet sadness reigns. The final movement, Allegro con Brio, presents an energetic opening and a sweetly contrasting middle section. The vigorous theme propels the sonata to an exciting finish.
We Blanconians who have been exposed to the talent of Christopher Guzman in the past testify that his skillfully rendered “heard melodies” bless our senses; as guests exit the acoustically sound Uptown Blanco Ballroom through the lovely courtyard, Guzman’s then “unheard melodies” will bless our hearts.
Blanco Performing Arts appreciates your kind patronage for its inaugural season. For tickets for the Christopher Guzman concert at 7:30 this Saturday evening, March 12, visit www.blancoperformingarts.com or call 830-833-4762.