A Salute To Youth

The  Morandini House Concert on Friday 21st June at 6.30pm, will feature two outstanding young pianists, Cherry Ngan and Andrew Leathwick. Both highly intelligent, these two performers attended Hillcrest High School together and have been mutually supportive musical friends over a number of years. Coming as it does just a few days before his 78th birthday, Gregor sees this concert as 'A Salute To Youth' : an opportunity to rejoice in the musical talent that Waikato seems so good at fostering. (And for this reason, he will be sponsoring most of the cost of the food and drink to maximise the concert earnings for the University and the performers.)

Recital Program

Cherry Ngan

Scriabin - Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand Alone Op 9

Mozart - Sonata in Bb KV 281

Franck - Prelude, Chorale and Fugue

Cherry Ngan

Interval

Andrew Leathwick

Bach - WTC Book II – Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor , BWV 871

Mozart – Sonata No. 8 in F Major, k. 332 – I. Allegro

Chopin – Scherzo No. 2 in Bb Minor, Op. 31

Chopin – Etudes Op. 25, Nos. 7, 10 & 12

Andrew Leathwick

 

Scriabin (1872-1915)

Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand Alone Op. 9

This set of pieces was written when Scriabin was still a student at the Moscow Conservatory. They appear to be the direct result of a hand injury Scriabin suffered in his right hand at the time, allegedly due to over-practising Liszt’s ‘Don Juan Fantasy’ and Balakirev’s notoriously difficult ‘Islamey’. As is typical of many of Scriabin’s earlier works, they show a strong Chopin influence- he was, after all, one of Scriabin’s main inspirations. The Prelude is a heart breaking lament- perhaps a reflection of Scriabin’s devastation at the loss of his right hand at the time- while the Nocturne is rather Chopinesque in its structure and style. Covering a wide range of the piano and encompassing many different techniques such as trills, octaves, large leaps and extensive voicing, this set of two pieces show how the absence of the right hand, despite being often perceived to be the stronger hand, is not necessarily a limiting factor for composers nor performers alike.

 

Mozart (1756-1791)

Sonata in Bb KV 281

Written in 1774 during the visit Mozart paid to Munich for the production of his opera La finta giariniera, this sonata is one of the more virtuosic of Mozart's works  for the solo piano. Nevertheless, it still contains strong operatic elements as does virtually all of Mozart's music. One is able to hear the interplay between the soprano and the orchestra in this first movement, from the opening melody to the second, more lyrical subject. The second movement continues this interplay between the solo line and the grandeur of the accompanying parts, before the third movement takes over as a humorous playful rondo, the different sections mischievously interrupting each other until the piece draws to a somewhat abrupt ending.

 

Cesar Franck (1822-1890)

Prelude and Chorale, from Prelude, Chorale and Fugue

This work was written in 1884, only a few years before the death of the composer. Indeed, Franck was best known for his later works, in which, away from the influences of his overly ambitious father (who was determined that his son follow a career as a concert pianist), he was able to explore his love for composition.

Having been employed as an organist at a church for much of his later life, it is often said that Franck wrote for the organ like a pianist, and for the piano like an organist, and this work, to a certain extent, reflects this. His use of rich harmonies and pedal effects create a sound of grandeur and magnificence, creating a world of different colours through his effortless modulations through different keys.

Franck's later works also show a strong religious influence, this work particularly so. It has been observed that it was in Franck's secular music in which his spirituality comes out the most, showing that secular music could still retain a spiritual identity in an abstract form. In fact, for this work, it was Franck's original intention to only write a Prelude and Fugue, as homage to Bach. However, it the added Chorale which introduces one of the two main themes of the work, a poignant jagged line which has been described by critics to form the shape of a cross, that links the two together.

The Prelude introduces the other principal theme, which, while also hinted at in the Chorale, is not stated explicitly until the Fugue. A prime example of Franck’s distinctive use cyclic forms, the Fugue eventually brings all the main themes and motifs into a turbulent counterpoint section, before exploding into a joyful B major coda, signalling a moment of celebration, glory and spiritual revelation.