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At only 24 years old, Gramophone’s 2017 “Young Artist of the Year” Beatrice Rana is making waves on the international classical music scene, arousing admiration and interest from conductors, critics, and audiences around the world. The Italian native, who was championed by no less than pianist Martha Argerich, shot to fame when she claimed the Silver Medal and Audience Award at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Click on the pieces to read notes.
Frédéric Chopin Études, Opus 25
Maurice Ravel Miroirs
Igor Stravinsky, transcribed by Guido Agosti The Firebird Suite
Runtime: Approximately 85 minutes with intermission.
Seating for this performance is limited. This performance is not eligible for group discounts.
Prices, seating sections, and programs are subject to change.
“There’s something of Martha Argerich about the way she combines chunky articulation and sparkling clarity with whimsical touches.”The London Times
“[Rana] is a compelling storyteller: her playing has all the sustained force and perfectly weighted brilliance you could want, but has a glint in its eye, too.”The Guardian
The Celebrity Series Debut Series at Longy brings renowned, emerging artists to Longy for performances and captivating masterclasses with Longy students.
Etudes Book II, Opus 25, 1-12
The original purpose of the etude, a study-piece or exercise, was to teach skills; in Chopin’s
When Chopin composed his sets of etudes, he actually initiated a different form: the concert etude, a work where the technical difficulty and the musical content were of similar high standards. The Romantic concert etude is a short work in which, as Charles Rosen said in The Romantic Generation, “the musical interest is derived almost entirely from a single technical problem. A mechanical difficulty directly produces the music, its charm, and its pathos. Beauty and technique are united, but the creative stimulus is the hand, with its arrangement of muscles and tendons, its idiosyncratic shape.” Chopin composed his etudes for public performance; they immediately received admiration from the composers who were his contemporaries: Schumann, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Berlioz. Listening to these works, one appreciates the distinctive, pure piano sound recognizable as Chopin’s.
Chopin wrote twenty-seven Etudes, two big sets of twelve, and three more for a piano instruction book. He composed the first set, Op. 10, between 1829 and 1832; it was published in 1833 with a dedication to Franz Liszt. He completed the second, Op. 25, between 1832 and 1836, and published it in 1837 with a dedication to Liszt’s companion, the Countess Marie d’Agoult. The three Nouvelles Etudes were composed for Moscheles, a famous Czech pianist, around 1840. Although these works are valued more for their music than for their contribution to the development of modern piano technique, it is interesting and instructive for the listener to know what problems they present to the player.
Some of these pieces are so difficult for the performer that Chopin had trouble playing them himself, admitting that Liszt performed them better than he could himself. In recommending them to his students, Chopin told them that they should maintain “a maximum of suppleness…as [there are] as many different sounds as there are fingers.” He warned players that the whole arm should be used to play, not just the fingers and the wrist, and he cautioned them never to practice more than three hours a day because they could injure their hands and muscles.
No. 1, in A flat Major, Allegro sostenuto. A quiet melody and bass emerge from the texture of arpeggios in contrary motion. Sometimes No. 1 is called the ‘Aeolian Harp Etude.’
No. 2, in F minor, Presto. Cross rhythms complicate the rendering of a florid melody.
No. 3, in F Major, Allegro (
No. 4, in A minor, Agitato. No. 4 is a syncopated staccato study. The right hand, always playing off the beat, must also delineate legato figures and phrases.
No. 5, in E minor, Vivace (scherzando). Evenness of touch is required in differentiating rhythmic and textural variants of the melody.
No. 6, in G sharp minor, Allegro. This etude incorporates rapid thirds, a “modern” problem in the piano style of Chopin’s time.
No. 7, in C sharp minor, Lento. Sometimes called the ‘Cello Etude,’ this work has a beautiful melody for the left hand, while the right plays a countermelody and accompanying chords.
No. 8, in D flat Major, Vivace. This etude is a study in sixths.
No. 9, in G flat Major, Allegro assai (
No. 10, in B minor, Allegro con
No. 11, in A minor,
No. 12, in C minor, Allegro molto con
Miroirs (“Mirrors”), M.43
Ravel was born in France, only a short distance from the Spanish border, to a French father and a Basque mother. Although his family moved to Paris when he was just an infant, he was always attached to the region of his birth and composed several works of Spanish inspiration. The Spanish composer Manuel de Falla once wrote, “Ravel’s Spain was Spain idealized and represented by his mother. Her refined conversation, in Spanish that remained excellent always, delighted me—especially when she used to recall her youth in Madrid.”
In 1904 and 1905, as he was turning thirty, Ravel wrote five piano pieces, each one complete in itself, that he assembled into a collection under the title Miroirs (“Mirrors”). These descriptive pieces do not attempt to present precise musical images. They reflect their subjects, often reality
Noctuelles (‘Nocturnal moths’), Très léger, is a rhythmically free, impressionistic study, basically in a simple three-part form, dedicated to the poet Leon Paul Fargue, who had written about “moths which take clumsy flight from
The fourth piece in the set is the brilliant Alborada del
La Vallée des cloches (“The Valley of the bells”), Très lent. This work, a musical landscape painting, depicts a pastoral vista across which distant bells are heard. Its original inspiration, however, was urban. Ravel told the pianist Robert Casadesus that the idea for it came to him while he listened to the church bells of Paris as they tolled at noon. He dedicated it to the composer Maurice Delage.
Suite from The Firebird (L’Oiseau de
Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, which premiered June 25, 1910, is one of the most striking and celebrated orchestral works of the 20th century. This work was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev, the leader of the Ballet Russes, who sensed in Stravinsky the potential of a vivid imagination and had suggested to him an exotic and familiar Russian fairy tale, with a storyline and choreography by Michel Fokine, as the subject of the new ballet. The resulting work is seen as having been the catalyst that propelled Stravinsky forward to fame. Diaghilev went on to commission two more Stravinsky works: Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.
The plot of The Firebird traces Prince Ivan’s pursuit of the brilliant Firebird. After he captures her, he takes pity on her when she pleads for her freedom; she rewards him by giving him one of her feathers as a talisman. Later, in an orchard full of golden apples, he discovers 13 princesses; falling in love with one of them, he follows them to the evil Kaschchei’s castle, where the sorcerer and his monsters capture him. After Ivan gets the Firebird to lull Kaschchei and his court to sleep, she leads him to a casket, which contains an egg holding Kaschchei’s soul. Ivan destroys the egg, thus freeing the princesses.
The neglected Italian virtuoso pianist/composer/teacher Guido Agosti’s piano transcription, which was very popular in the 1940s, recreates the final three movements: Danse