Phnom Penh: Sunday, 28th of July 2019 – Himawari Hotel Apartments was hosted a spectacular Piano Masterwork by the Mekong V Featuring by Nicholas Ho at Grand Ballroom. Pianist Nicholas Ho hails from Singapore and graduated with a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance (Distinction) from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where he studied with Professor Edward Auer. He had previously studied with American pianist Tedd Joselson in Singapore.
Partita nNo. 1 in B Flat Major, BWV 825 (1726)
Bach here uses his preferred instrumental format – The Suite (or Partita, in this case) – Which
comprises of several sections, or Dances:
5. Menuet I
6. Menuet II
The Pianoforte (Just called the piano today) was introduced at the time of Beethoven (Late 1700s), after Bach’s death in 1750. The Partitas were originally intended for Organ, Harpsichord or Clavichord (Earlier keyboard instruments). Scholars often speculate on what Bach’s response might have been to the piano’s advanced capabilities in colour, touch, and articulation that were afforded to Beethoven, yet we find today’s pianist, Nicholas Ho completely at ease performing Bach on the piano.
Remarkably and especially on the piano, Bach’s music can appear deeply romantic. Personal
emotions (In Music) were not en vogue during Bach’s time. In the Baroque Period, emotional content was normally directed towards God. The composer was a medium via which God spoke and as such, several compositional rules applied. Bach was deeply religious, however his music appears to show a human aspect that went beyond the surrender to the divine. It would take almost a hundred years to reach Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy (1822) – a similarly sized early Romantic Period composition – Where emotional freedom was now
solely the composers’ prerogative. (Schubert was agnostic).
The Partita No.1 belongs to the last known set written by the composer. Bach’s compositional genius, Which is so effortlessly demonstrated in the Partita No. 1 shows complete mastery in handling the rigid baroque form whilst employing harmonic and melodic elegance that are both functional to the Baroque rule book and aesthetically fresh 300 years on.
Elliot Carter (1908-2012)
Piano Sonata (1945-46)
The earliest of only eight piano works composed by Carter the Piano Sonata (1945-46) was written just after World War II. It was an early composition but attributed to his “mature style” with strong links to composers Aaron Coopland and Igor Stravinsky.
Stravinasky’s Rite of Spring warped the fabric of music forever in 1913 and like so many before and after, Carter was not spared its influence. Stravinsky left an indelible mark on Carter’s compositional style and this work with its accented and fugal strategy throughout is a brilliant example.
Carter drew inspiration also from Charles Ives, Alban Berg, Schoenberg, and George Gershwin. During what became one of the longest careers in musical history, Carter wrote in various styles and formats until his death at 103 years of age.
Carter developed clever and amusing compositions. In his Third String Quartet, the four players are split into two duos who play different music at different speeds simultaneously. In the Concerto for Orchestra Carter splits the ensemble into four each associated with a different harmony and a different kind of motion.
Nicholas Ho (b. 1992)
Inner States of Mind, op. 3
i. What If?
iii. Étude: Mirror Image
v. Vantage Point
“This suite describes own spiritual and emotional journeys since moving to the Midwest. Each shortnpiece is part of my own narrative: In the first piece, I ask myself many deep questions. In the second piece, I question the validity of joy. The third piece an etude adapted from an earlier opus, represents chaos. The penultimate piece is areinterpretation of the hymn as I seek for divine guidance. The final piece describes a vantage point set in the future as I see and finally understand, How all things work together.”
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata S161/7 (1849)
(also known as: Dante Sonata)
To contextualize Liszt’s piano solo compositional style, Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) is often mentioned as a source of influence. Paganini was Europe’s most celebrated violinist. His compositional style demanded extreme technical ability which amazed Europen audiences and propelled Paganini to stardom.
Liszt was so impressed after a hearing Paganini in 1832,That he was determined to become the “Paganini of the Piano”. As a result, Liszt’s piano compositions require complete mastery of the keyboard with speed and power given a priority.
The Dante Sonata – colloquially named was originally a work entitled Fragment after Dante
consisting of two thematically related movements inspired by the reading of Dante Alighieri’s most famous epic poem, The Divine Comedy. Liszt completed the final version in 1849.
The Dante Sonata represents one of the pinnacles of technical achievements for any pianist. It is thus considered one of the most difficult pieces to perform and not often done so live. It ranges from virtuosic, brilliant passages to sincerely moving emotional statements.
Program Notes: Gabi Faja-Holm
Photo by: Sakura Engly