Sunday, April 24, 2005

Vieuxtemps, Elegie for Viola and Piano, Op. 30

Liundsey Parsons concluded her senior recital tonight with this piece, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The rest of her program was much less virtuosic - she played a Bach Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, a piece she composed herself, and the Shostakovitch Sonata for Violana and Piano, OP. 147. This pieces were well-performed and she was sensitive to the style of those composers, but they provided few opportunities for Parsons to show off - they had little passagework or runs, lacked cadenzas, and I think Parsons was a bit too nervous to be very expressive. She came to life, however, for the Elegie, adding some personal touches to the music that were much needed.

The harmony of this piece sounds very cool - Vieuxtemps uses many diminished seven chords to chromatically slide from tonal center to tonal center. One chord in particular struck my fancy - it was an F# major chord played over a pedal F, which was the bass for the f minor chord that preceded it. The moves by half-step created a devious, ambiguous sound that made the authentic cadences feel all the more strong.

The larger form of the piece is fairly straightforward - it's ternary, with the two outer sections in f minor and the B section modulating to the relative major, Ab. There was a very impressive terminative section which had a lot of the impressive passagework and virtuosity that I had desired the entire recital.

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