Show 200: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast this week was taped at the Heifitz International Music Institute in Wolfeboro, NH in July 2009. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Ben Fried

Ben Fried

Ben Fried, 17, cello
Variations on a Theme of Paganini
by Gregor Piatigorsky

“This piece was written as a satire of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. Each variation comically admires and/or pokes fun at a different cellist/violinist. My favorite is the ‘Kreisler’ variation, because I can play it cheesy.”

Alexi Kenney, 15, violin
Grand Tango by Astor Piazzolla

“Le Grand Tango, as with other Piazzolla, is in such a different style from any other piece in the repertoire (part of the reason I chose it), but it still manages to connect to the audience in a huge way. I think the hardest part of the piece is conveying a sense of holding back while still sounding ‘on edge.’ You can’t lay it out in front of the audience at the beginning – it unfolds like a stage production, element by element, to the final climax!”

Deberly Kauffman, 17, viola
I. Allegro appassionato
from Concert Piece in G minor, Op. 46 by Hans Sitt

“My favorite thing about this piece is how expressive it allows me to be. I love the opening part – the changes in bow pressure and dynamics. I get to experiment with it anew every time I play it. I love how different and surprising this piece is to many people – when I was preparing it for a performance, a listener was actually so astonished he fell out of his chair!”

Piano Quintet, Carol Ou – Chamber Music Coordinator
III. Scherzo from Piano Quintet, Op. 57 by Dmitri Shostakovich

Deberly Kauffman, 17, viola
Stephanie Nilles, 10th Anniversary Alumni Performer, piano
Alena Merimee, 16, violin
Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, 16, violin
Julian Langford, 17, cello

“We just started rehearsing this last week with the four string players, and just got to add Stephanie in yesterday.  Christopher O’Riley helped us yesterday with holding our bows differently to give a stronger sound.” Alena Merimee

“It’s really ugly, it’s gorgeous!” Christopher O’Riley

“The Shostakovich is close to the jazz medium in that it’s got a gritty sound and the dissonance, and the almost percussive nature of the piano part and the string parts as well. It’s relatable to the music I’m playing right now” Stephanie Nilles

Stephanie Nilles, 10th Anniversary Alumni Performer
Over Easy Eggs
(by Stephanie Nilles)

“This piece is an homage to Tom Waitts, which I rearranged to perform with a string quartet and Christopher O’Riley on beer bottle and triangle.”