Show 264: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast for Show 264 was taped at the Sarasota Opera House in Sarasota, Florida on Tuesday December 11, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us more about their experience on the show…

Nadia Azzi, 14, piano 
I. So rasch wie möglich from Sonata No.2 in G minor, Op.22
By: Robert Schumann

My favorite part of the piece is the first chord – rather, the first measure. It is almost like calling attention to the audience: “listen to me!” I worked around with getting the 8371390696_f890f62894_cright sound of that chord as well. I think the music invokes all sorts of stories and images, but the main ideas that I got from learning this piece is that it is serious and humorous, but Schumann’s idea is crystal clear on what he exactly hopes to convey.

This piece is rather new to me, and I’ve never performed it in such a prestigious place before. I think the hardest thing to nail in the piece is the tempo. The tempo marking in the beginning is “as fast as possible.” Near the end, there are more markings that indicate to get faster and faster. It is hard to show the intensity without the right amount of speed. At the same time, it’s difficult to play clearly and precisely.

Post-Show Reflection: I loved performing in front of a live audience and getting to talk with Mr. O’Riley. The audience was very enthusiastic and energetic. After performing, I knew that this is exactly what I want to do in life.

I think music has the power to move people and change others’ lives. I believe that it can make a difference in the world more than anything else.

Kaitlyn Resler, 16, horn 
Nocturno, Op.7
By: Franz Strauss

As the piece begins, the piano sets the stage as it starts with simple D flat arpeggios. While just starting out, this seems to be a bed of flowers, where many memories lie. Through this piece the quiet flowing phrases invoke the image of a love story: a 8370335031_aa7398346a_c“prince” and “princess” fall in love with each legato line. The piece start to get louder, and comes to a climax as the love story faces issues – like they are being torn away from one another. As the piece continues, the issues are resolved and in the recap the “prince” and “princess” recall the time they first met. Through the long lines and beautiful phrasing, this love story ends well but with a slight twist of sadness right at the end.

This piece is so different than any other piece I’ve played because it is all about the long legato phrasing. Throughout the piece, each performer is given options of push and pull in certain areas. Depending on who is playing it, the performer can invoke different images and put their own story to it. This piece cannot be performed without emotion. In Nocturno, I (as the performer) can put my own heart, soul, and personality into each leading line and climactic phrase.

Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was the rehearsal from the first night. It was really awesome hearing all the talented performers in such a full space before the actual production crew. It was cool knowing everyone was there to support all of us, and no one was judging anyone. The show was an adventure. It was a calming yet amazing experience, and was in a different type of setting for performance. It was neat knowing everyone in the audience was there to hear beautiful music, and as advocates of the arts.

Music has the power to tell a story, and to make the audience relate to the performer. It also has the power to change lives.

Alumni feature: Abraham Feder, cello, age 27
I. Allegro vivace from Sonata No. 2 in F major for Cello and Piano, Op. 99
By: Johannes Brahms

When I play the Brahms Sonata in F Major, the first thing that pops into my head is my teacher, David Soyer, yelling at me, “It’s 8371405250_5ae72b49e1_cnot heroic enough!” He once told me in a lesson that I had to play a figure in the piece a certain way. But, when I said said, “But, Mr. Soyer, that’s not what Brahms wrote.” He responded, “I studied with Alexanian. Alexanian performed these sonatas with Brahms on the piano, and Brahms told him that’s how it’s played.” That was good enough reasoning for me!

One of the aspects of the piece that I absolutely love is that Brahms is capable of writing so heroically and lyrically, while at the same time requiring such careful, but seemingly carefree, agility from the performer. It’s what makes the piece so difficult not just to play, but also to create a continuity to the phrasing. Any hint of hiding in the opening completely destroys the character for the rest of the movement. I hope I pulled it off! Brahms absolutely one of my favorite composers. It was such an honor to perform this movement with Chris, and I can’t wait until I perform the piece again in its entirety!

Post-Show Reflection: I really enjoyed working with some friends who I haven’t seen in a few years, as well as meeting the news faces of the staff who keep From the Top alive. It was also great to listen to some very talented young artists – classical music has a bright future! For the actual show, I had the “home court advantage” here in Sarasota (in that most people from the audience know who I am). I really enjoy performing for this community. Over the years, I feel like I’ve established a report with this audience – I know them, they know me, and it was wonderful to be able to share some different music with them!

I believe that music is greater than all of us. It has the power to inspire, and the power to move people. I feel so fortunate that I get to wake up everyday and look forward to being a vessel for music.

Jennifer Kim, 14, guitar
Un Sueño en la Floresta 
By: Agustín Barrios Mangoré Kim

The piece that I am performing, Un Sueño by Agustín Barrios, is very romantic and dreamy. Whenever I practice or perform this piece, I try to imagine myself wandering through a tropical forest, like Barrios must have done. My favorite part is in the middle 8370345813_265e8dd51e_cof the piece, where there is a dramatic scale. One time, when I performed this piece for the American Guitar Society, someone in the audience had their cell phone ring. I was trying to play as musically as possible and I felt that the ring tone had an interesting blend with the music.

Most of this piece is using tremolo, where I play the melody with three fingers of my right hand in a fast, repeating pattern, and the accompaniment with my thumb. It’s a difficult technique to play evenly, accurately, with a beautiful tone, and also musically. There are a few moments in the piece that I feel are very tender, and I like to play those places very softly, which gives it a magical beauty. Towards the end of the piece, there is a phrase that reminds of two vocalists singing in octaves. What also makes this piece so challenging is because the left hand stretches are crazy, and it goes to the highest note on the guitar! Most guitars only go up to the high B, but in order to play Un Sueño, the guitar needs to have a high C!

Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory from the three days was the pizza party – everyone was nice and kind towards me, and the staff were all very funny. When I performed on the stage, I was very nervous, and kind of scared, because I wanted to play well. I decided to close my eyes and just breathe for a few seconds. When I played the piece, I was striving to play musically, because that was all that I felt was important. Overall, it was a very fun and exciting experience.

I believe music has the power to change lives and motivate kids to new ideas.

Kevin Zhu, 12, violin
Carmen Fantasie
By: Franz Waxman

I think that this piece can really bring you into the music. Most of the time when I play this piece, I think about the Carmen opera by Bizet, and what the human voice sounds like. That helps me determine the music more than anything else and gives me a sense8370350755_c9da5d423d_c of how the piece should or could be played. The other times I’m solely concentrated on the technique, but the results vary. I don’t have a favorite part, but my least favorite part is during the last two minutes or so, where the technical difficulty is overwhelming and sometimes frustrating to play. Also, I have bad memories with the very beginning: during a masterclass with Midori, I messed up badly when performing that section, and I was really embarrassed.

This piece is unique in how much expression needs to go into it. I have never played a piece requiring so much heart and expression…parts of Chausson’s “Poeme” may be getting close, but almost everything else is way below this piece in terms of expression. I feel that this piece is technically difficult, and that comes into focus in the beginning and end. On top of that, you need to do it as musically as possible. That makes it a nearly impossible piece to play without precision, technique, and expression.

Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory from the three days was the concert itself at the Sarasota Opera House. The hall was very wide and had a second balcony, so it was a bit nerve-wracking to perform. I was afraid my bow would hit the piano or the microphone, so I was cautious. Other than that, it was comfortable for me to be on the stage.

I believe music has the power to inspire others and change their lives.