Saturday, March 29, 2008

PianoVoce Presents Music For Friends, By Friends

Friendship is the theme when the community ensemble PianoVoce performs selections from Brahms, Bernstein, Menotti and others, on Saturday, March 29 at the Fulkerson Recital Hall.

The featured work is “Variation on a Theme by Schumann “ by Johannes Brahms. Brahms’ tribute to his close friend Schumann is a piano 4-hand performed by friends Nancy Correll and Annette Gurnee Hull.

“This was one of the most famous musical friendships, between Brahms and the Schumann family,” said Nancy Correll. “The two composers nurtured each others’ music, and their relationship extended to their families. This piece is especially poignant, since it was written so soon after Schumann’s death.”

“Whether or not there was ever a romance between Clara Schumann and Brahms,” Correll commented, “it was a lifelong relationship of deep mutual respect and love.”

The work “is based on a mysterious set of piano solo variations begun by Schumann, but not published until 1939,” Correll said. “ We will have more to say about these variations during the recital.”

PianoVoce will play several other pieces by Brahms, including a late sonata for clarinet and piano, which features Virginia Ryder on clarinet. “She has been a good friend for years, and we are honored to have her musical magnetism for this recital,” Correll said.

Also on the program: John Corigliano’s rollicking “Gazebo Dances” (each of which is dedicated to at least one friend or family member), Leonard Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (dedicated to a friend), also featuring Virginia Ryder, and Gian-Carlo Menotti’s “Six Songs,” which deals with love in all its aspects, including friendship.

In addition to pianists Nancy Correll and Annette Gurnee Hull, PianoVoce includes tenor Kevin Sharkey (who has sung with the group for the last two years) and narrator Richard Duning, who explains the background of the pieces and reads translations of the songs.

PianoVoce was formed in 2003 to explore music originally written for piano 4-hands and piano vocal literature, but “is not averse to other musical instruments - the clarinet for example!”

“Friendship” begins at 8 PM on Saturday, March 29 in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $3 student/seniors from HSU ticket office (826-3928) or at the door.

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