A rollicking Beethoven, a lyrical Brahms, modern madrigals and a fresh new work by the latest Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winner in classical music--all on a Humboldt Sunday afternoon (February 27) with violinist and HSU professor Cindy Moyer, and HSU piano accompanist John Chernoff. Plus a brand new grand piano.
This concert presents one premiere in String Poetic, a recent work by Jennifer Higdon never heard in Humboldt before. Higdon won both the Pulitzer Prize for Music and a Grammy Award in 2010. Both innovative and accessible, she is one of the most performed contemporary composers in America. "Jennifer Higdon's vivid, attractive works have made her a hot commodity lately," wrote Steve Smith in the New York Times. "Much of Higdon's music makes use of two very different styles--perpetual motion and slow, improvisatory material," Cindy Moyer observed. Higdon wrote “String Poetic” for violinist and recording artist Jennifer Koh, who played locally in a recent Center Arts concert.
This concert features a second Humboldt premiere, though not of a new composition: it will be the first public appearance for the HSU Music Department's new studio-sized grand piano. "The gift of an exceedingly generous donor, the Feurich model 197 is only 6'6" in length, but it lacks nothing in fullness of sound,” said HSU Music Department piano technician Greg Granoff. "Feurich pianos are very expensive, limited production instruments with very precise, highly responsive action and a warm, clear and elegant tone that is ideal for chamber performances in a small venue such as Fulkerson Recital Hall.”
To give this piano a classic workout, the concert also includes important works by two familiar composers, Ludwig von Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. In preparing the Sonata in G Major for Piano and Violin, Moyer came to the conclusion that it is “definitely my favorite Beethoven sonata.” She noted the second movement has “a wonderfully funny moment where the violin plays a sublime melody while the piano plays inappropriate accents in the wrong places. The last movement is the highlight—it’s a rollicking barn dance. Think Beethoven meets country fiddling!”
Brahms’ Sonata in A Major for Piano and Violin is “the second of three Brahms sonatas and the only one I haven’t played before, although John has played it many times,” Moyer said. “It has lots of lyrical and gentle moments typical of Brahms.”
The duo also performs Five Madrigal Stanzas for Violin and Piano by modern Czech Bohemian composer Bohuslav Martinu. Though also an accessible composer, “Martinu tends to juxtapose completely different rhythmic patterns in the different parts,” Moyer notes. “Working out how everything aligns is interesting and challenging for the performers. Hopefully it’s interesting for the audience as well."
Cindy Moyer on violin and John Chernoff on the new Feurich piano will perform in this Faculty Artists Series Concert on Sunday February 27 at 2 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $8/$3 from HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.
Media: Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye, North Coast Journal