Showing posts with label Chopin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chopin. Show all posts

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Music School Piano Faculty Shine in Performance

By Christine Facciolo

Four members of The Music School of Delaware’s esteemed piano faculty displayed their performing and compositional talents in a program entitled “Piano Majesty” Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at the school's Wilmington Branch.

No piano concert would be complete without at least one work by Frederic Chopin, and this program featured two, both brilliantly rendered by David Brown. Brown is a pianist of unwavering mastery and musicianship with a towering but sublime strength and nuance that is both personal and telling. He was especially glittering in Chopin’s melodic Fantasy Impromptu, Op. 66 and the happy, cantabile character of the Barcarolle, Op.60, one of the composer’s finest works.

Pianist and composer Jennifer Nicole Campbell performs
in the Music Masters program, Piano Majesty.
The program also featured a generous helping of original compositions. Jennifer Nicole Campbell applied her usual charm and impeccable technique to a rendering of Brown’s ethereal In the High Meadow. She also offered two of her own compositions, Prayer for the Right Hand, a left-hand piece she wrote to compensate for an injury she suffered to her right hand, and the lively Variations on Loch Lomond, which featured musical motifs from the pop and classical repertoire. The audience had great fun identifying the themes. She rounded out her set with a performance of Leschetizky’s Ballade Venitienne, Op. 39, No. 1 (Barcarolle).

Brown offered a more solemn set of variations on the Baroque aria Bist du bei mir. Brown wrote the variations in 1993 and revised the work this year. In some pre-performance remarks, he noted that he was responding to the loss of loved ones by several of his friends over the past year.

Liliya Maslov and Oleg Maslov delivered an edge-of-your seat rendering of Lutoslawski’s piano-slam Paganini Variations. The audience was transported to a cliff-edge zany and dissonance-allowed zone with superb playing from the duo in an intrepid choice of repertoire.

The duo of Brown and Campbell opened the program with a performance of two selections by Schubert: the Allegro moderato and Andante (D. 968) and the March in D major, D. 733.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Album Review: Jennifer Campbell, "Perceptions of Shadows"

By Christine Facciolo
It might seem a bit presumptuous for a young pianist to include her own compositions on her debut CD and to christen the project with the title of one of said works.

But Jennifer Nicole Campbell is not just any other pianist. Barely out of conservatory (Peabody Class of ’14) — this young artist must surely possess a bookshelf sagging under the weight of the awards she’s already won.

Those talents are brilliantly displayed in this “a-little-bit-of-everything” recording, the 10 tracks of which range from the baroque to the contemporary.

Campbell was assured and absolutely engrossing in Beethoven’s Sonata No. 30 in E Major (Op. 109) and Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1. The former was written in 1820 when Beethoven was completely deaf. After the huge Hammerklavier sonata (Op. 106), this work marks a return to a smaller and more intimate character, one might even say, confessional. Campbell applies an appropriately gentle touch to the first movement before launching into the ferocity of the second. The calm and fragile tone of the cantabile theme of the final movement — a set of variations — provides a nice and welcome retreat.

Chopin was undoubtedly the master of the piano miniature and his Nocturnes are the best of the best. Some are profoundly beautiful while others, like the Nocturne in C-sharp minor (Op. 27, No. 1), express pathos, tragedy, even hopelessness. Written in 1845 when the composer knew he was sick with tuberculosis, this is as personal a statement as Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. Campbell’s approach is emotional without being sentimental, balanced and clearly shaded, allowing the music’s passion to emerge.

Purists might prefer their Bach played on a harpsichord. The reason is a simple and valid one: the harpsichord has a sharper tone than the piano, giving the lines more “pop.”

No matter. Campbell displays a firm grasp of Bach’s architecture, delivering a performance of the French Suite No. 3 in B minor that is appropriately sharp in contour with plenty of vibrancy and poignancy.

Campbell shows equal mastery of the music of Debussy. Her control of voicing in “Cloches a travers les feuilles” from Images, Book II is a marvel as is her ability to coax some breathtakingly subtle shades from her instrument.

Campbell is equally brilliant as she evokes the shimmering luminosity of the technically daunting “Sundrops over Windy Water” from Three Etudes (2012) by the young Israeli composer Avner Dorman.

The inclusion of David Auldon Brown’s Sonata I (1977, rev. 2008) was a splendid example of the contemporary idiom to the traditional sonata form. The composer revised the work especially for Campbell during her study at the Darlington Arts Center.

The CD concludes with two of Campbell’s self-penned works: Perceptions of Shadows, which pairs quite nicely with the Debussy and the masterful tongue-in-cheek Variations on Simple Gifts, which will surely have you playing “name-that-tune.”