The Concert Report Assignment
Name of Ensemble/Group/Artist
For the concert report assignment, I attended the Masters Recital performed by Yunhan Xu. She is a student of William Heiles. As a partial fulfillment of requirements for the Master of Music degree Yunhan Xu had to do this recital in public. She played three songs on the piano with an intermission. For her recital Yunhan Xu chose Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata in E minor, BWV 914,” Joseph Haydn’s ”Piano Sonata in C minor, Hoboken XVI: 20,” and Fryderyk Chopin’s “Ballade No.4 in F minor, Op.52.”
Date and Place of Performance
The performance took place at the Recital Hall of Smith Memorial Hall on Sunday, March 13, 2016, at 11:00 AM.
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Description of Musical Style
Johann Sebastian Bach is a great composer of the Baroque period. His music is often complex and rich in texture as well as full of dynamics and innovations. Bach’s piece is a toccata written in a free style. It is begun with a rather slow and poetic prelude, which moves to the energetic fugue. Then, the second prelude comes; it is an adagio. The finishing touch is the toccata again.
Joseph Haydn belongs to the Classical Period when musical pieces became lighter and less complex. However, at the same time, they were more concentrated and purified. Haydn’s piece is a piano sonata. It is started as a very calm and unhurried Moderato. Next, the sonata is continued with Adante con moto and finished off in Allegro.
Fryderyk Chopin had worked during the Romantic period when composers tried to express emotions in music. Feelings became the focus of musical pieces. Chopin’s Ballade has a structure of two themes going one by them and later combining into one to finish the piece with an invigorating twist.
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Textures used in performance. Also, name instrument(s) and/or voice(s)
Yunhan Xu played the piano with no additional textures of voice or other instruments. The monophonic sound of the piano was varied by the performer’s masterful rendering of pieces.
The texture of the sound in Bach’s “Toccata” gets thicker by the end of the melody when the Adagio is followed by the Toccata.
Haydn’s “Piano Sonata” changes textures at the beginning of the piece when the performer plays moderato. On the whole, it is dynamic. The performer skillfully changes her loud and soft manner of playing the piece making dissonances and consonances more distinct. The sonata in C minor presents Haydn’s diverse texture of the melody based on dynamic changes. Sudden shifts of accents contribute to it. A rather calm beginning is followed by explosions of sound.
Chopin’s Ballade is polyphonic. It has an unusually dense texture. It is due to the fact that Chopin has a pronounced narrator. Therefore, the interaction between the teller and the second person requires a difference in texture. The ballade is very structured with a pleasing melody and harmony. It is considered to be one of the best examples of Romantic genre. The reason is that the ballade offers a great development of the subject of feelings. The palette of emotions changes many times throughout the piece. It contributes to the ballade’s complexity and subtlety.
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Your detailed impressions of the music/performance including critical remarks. Discuss different songs in the program
Bach created the toccata in a minor mode thus informing it the mood of sadness and pain. The performer managed to convey the feelings. Bach’s toccatas can be rather long and tiresome to listen to. However, it was rather dynamic and caught the listener’s attention. The fugue was fast enough to make it interesting to follow. It is known that Bach did not leave any remarks on the dynamics of the toccata. Therefore, the performer can interpret them in her own way. Bach’s toccata highlighted the player’s virtuosity. Yunhan Xu decided to begin slowly. Her movements were confident and calm. However, she let the audience hear tension. The performer managed to inform urgency to the prelude, as if she wanted to share it with everybody, and time was precious. Thus, it sounded in a reserved way. The second prelude is set off by the sense of urgency culminated in an energetic toccata.
Haydn’s “Piano Sonata” is played in C minor. Therefore, it usually sounds somber and solemn. However, the performer’s interpretation added a lot of intensity and dynamics. Quickly changing her hands Yunhan Xu skillfully played syncopated elements. Haydn is a very complicated composer whose music is multilayered; and a range of styles used there is diverse. Performing it Yunhan Xu demonstrates a mature style and a deep understanding of the piece. The “Adante con Moto” was very playful. In the final section, the sonata returned to its initial melody. Becoming somber and solemn again the ending sounded very similar to the beginning. The rhythm of the piece catches the audience and holds it. While the melody is clearly read, the rhythm is more significant in this melody. The performer demonstrated an interesting reading of Haydn when the sonata was intercepted with fermatas. As a matter of fact, the composer remarked for musicians’ spots where they should remain on the note longer than usual.
Chopin’s Ballade is an incredibly difficult piece of music. In the emotional sense, it unites passion and sadness, as well as a sense of something negative and disturbing about to happen. In the technical side, the ballade has a difficult task of telling a narrative. As the story includes two lines or two viewpoints, the performer needs to show it in her manner. It involves contra punctual mastery and a difficult coda. Additionally, it seems rather difficult to hold the rhythm. However, Yunhan Xu’s performance was outstanding. She had some difficulties in several passages. Apart from the coda, there were the passages with double notes when somebody in the audience could assume that the performer’s fingers got tired. However, Yunhan Xu did not show any signs of tiredness. The ballade obviously requires virtuosity. Choosing this Chopin’s number for her Recital, Yunhan Xu clearly wanted to send the signal that she was a superb performer. As a result, she succeeded in that.
All the songs were in a minor mode. Thus, the performer was able to show the variety of minor emotions. They should not necessarily be considered negative ones. Sadness, pain, anger, and anxiety are often downplayed in human relations and labeled as negative. However, they constitute a part of human life. The sooner people acknowledge them and learn how to live with them and adequately express them, the better their emotional lives will be. Such great composers as Bach, Chopin, and Haydn are great to remind some and teach others of the important range of all emotions.
As famous composers they explored the subject of the minor mode in a capturing manner. Their music numbers are not one-dimensional. They offer different narratives and various elements to allure the audience and capture their attention. The masterful performance of pieces did not take from them. Rather Yunhan Xu’s manner enriched them and showed the listeners how to pack sorrow, loneliness, anxiety, and pain into such a short period of time.
Given that it was the recital it should be noted that the choice of pieces was wise. To show her variability Yunhan Xu chose for the recital some pieces from three major musical periods, i.e. Baroque, Classical period, and Romantic epochs. For the first one, Bach is great because everyone likes him. Furthermore, the toccata is an unusual choice. It is also an advantage because the examiners got used to other pieces by Bach. Haydn and Chopin are also good choices. Haydn offers one of his least known pieces being very interesting and fresh. While Chopin’s Ballade is a truly grand masterpiece; and it reveals the magnitude of Yunhan Xu’s talent and skills.
Public reaction to the concert (How successful was the performance?)
The public reaction was very warm; and the performance was outstanding. The performer’s skillful rending of musical pieces is indisputable. The core theme is the minor mode; and the audience was mature enough to appreciate it. For the piano player Yunhan Xu, those ones being present agree that she has a strong hand and dexterious fingers. She is a solid performer who does not shy away from original interpretations at the same time doing it with class and grace.
The choice of pieces for the recital shows a knowledge of the material and expectations of examiners. Showing the solid performance Yunhan Xu increased the understanding of her skillfulness by the end of her play. All the chosen pieces are hard enough. Therefore, only the talented and well-trained performer is able to do them without a hitch. The final piece ultimately uplifted Yunhan Xu as such a complexity and dexterity. The audience truly appreciated the chance to hear her.