Show 229: Listening Guide

This week’s broadcast was taped in the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA on Tuesday April 5, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Andrew Altmaier, 17, cello
II. Allegro from Sonata in D minor Op. 40 for Cello and Piano
By: Dmitri Shostakovich

I really like the relentless beat that’s hammered out throughout the piece. For me, it has a quality of banging your head against the wall, which is particularly effective in contrast with the few short bits of even sound, and even those sound strained as they’re forced into the same unforgiving rhythm as the rest of the piece.

This piece stands out to for me in that my view of its themes changed completely while I was working on it – when I first started, I thought it was frivolous and somewhat lighthearted, some kind of scherzo. Later, when I did some research on the composer and his environment in which the piece was written, it became very serious, and I noticed many undertones of suppressions and forced musicality, which gave the piece’s beat a whole new meaning.

Elizabeth Lin, 17, Saxophone
Prelude, Cadence and Finale
By: Alfred Desenclos

I first heard this piece in junior high when my private teacher put it on a CD for me. She wanted to show me the versatility of the saxophone. At the time, I was awed by all the technical aspects of the piece. I never thought I would be able to learn it. Finally learning the piece showed me how much I have grown since eighth grade. Today, I love the amount of musical variety throughout the piece. My favorite part is probably the Cadence, because it serves as a transition between the slower to the faster portion of the piece. The cadence has both a lyrical section and a more virtuous part.

I think this piece varies more frequently than any other piece I have played. It starts out slow and mysterious, then gradually builds up. It’s a long piece, so I try to change it musically in order to keep it intense and interesting. The hardest aspect of the piece for me is keeping a steady tempo and staying with the pianist.

Yifan Wu, 18, Piano
Etude No.3 in C minor, Op.2
By: Sergei Prokofiev

I think this piece is great. I love everything in this great piece, including the technique, even though it is a challenge for me to do it. What I really like in this piece is the passion in the begining: there are few gradual harmony changes, that slowly move into the theme.

It is a special piece for technique. There are three parts to the piece, and the melody switches between the two hands all the time. Its really important that the melody is apparent in this piece – I wanted to let the audience know where are the melodies appear in order to make this etude interesting.

Jennifer Cha, 14, Violin
Jota Navarra
By: Pablo Sarasate

The Jota is a courting dance originating in Spain, and Navarra is a region in Spain, where a variation of the Jota dance originates. When I play the Jota Navarra, I think of a girl and a guy flirting almost as if they’re teasing each other. This can be seen in the opening section of the piece, which is my favorite. I picture a guy showing off how manly he is to a girl who just sees his immaturity as being cute but willingly accepts his invitation to dance among other couples during a big festival.

Through my performance, I would like to express the authenticity of this piece, which I consider to be its most unique characteristic. I admire Sarasate for staying true to his Spanish roots in his compositions. The most important thing for me is to clearly convey the various emotions of this piece, which would be festive, romatic, cute, aggressive, and lively, among others. The romantic slides, cute harmonics, and percussive pizzicatos, all help me show the contrasting colors. At the end of my performance, I would like to see the audience dancing the Jota with castanets!

Danielle Renzi, 17, Accordion
La Musette
By: Angelo Di Pippo

La Musette is a fun, upbeat song that I enjoy playing because of the continuous runs. It reminds me of a kind of waltz because of the three beat patterns. My favorite part is the ending, when the main section is played a second time, but much faster because it is one of the only times I can just play as fast as I want. While I play it, I like to listen to the way the length of the tuplets change.

This piece is unique because it was written by a Rhode Islander, Angelo DiPippo. Although it is not usually one of my heavy classical pieces, the amount of work needed to perfect the right hand technique is one of the greatest out of any song I play. I have to try to keep the calm waltz feel while keeping up the quick moving, less relaxing right hand. I think the hardest part of is keeping with the changes in the runs, whether it is triplets or septuplets.