Show 212: Listening Guide

This week’s From the Top broadcast was taped in Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday February 6, 2010. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Bobby Chen

Bobby Chen, 18, cello
Pezzo Capriccioso by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

“I enjoy playing Pezzo Capriccioso because it forces me to think and play with deep emotional conviction, but it also requires me to stay light and bouncy in the middle section.

Unlike other pieces in my recent repertoire, the piece seems almost bipolar, switching from a feeling of dark, emotional strife to a playful mood. I have a love/hate relationship with the middle section. Playing it with a light character is a challenge because my fingers and bow are moving at about 900 miles per hour.

I once accidentally skipped a whole page in that section, but my pianist didn’t even notice because it sounded so similar!”

Phuong Nghi Pham, 14, piano
Andante & Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 14 by Felix Mendelssohn

“The slow melodies in the beginning of this piece make me feel like I’m wrapped in a warm blanket (maybe with a hot chocolate in hand?) looking out the windows at falling snow. Everything is calm and nothing is out of place. Once the faster music begins, it’s like there’s a group of leprechauns or gnomes playing around and having a good time. The mood changes are the most difficult things to do in this piece. I have to make connections between that snowy day and the leprechauns. There are running notes that sparkle and octaves that maintain a feeling of seriousness throughout this piece. Actually, this piece reflects my life because there are times when I have to be serious and focused, but I can also have a lot of fun.”

Gergana Haralampieva

Gergana Haralampieva, 16, violin
Variations on a Theme of Corelli by Fritz Kreisler

“When I play the variations, I imagine a train journey. During the theme, I imagine that people are in a train station hugging each other, saying their goodbyes, and getting onto the train. Then the train departs. In the first variation, I imagine the train traveling beside a lake with many colorful fish swimming in the water, which sparkles and reflects the sunlight. Later, in the second variation, the train might be traveling through a forest. The “spiccato” sections sound like hopping rabbits, and there are many trills that remind me of birds singing. The third variation is very majestic and powerful, like a sunrise over a huge, snowy mountain. Finally, the train reaches its destination, and the journey ends. I really love the moods in each variation that remind me of different beautiful types of nature.”