Concert Attendance Paper

Topics: Music, Piano, Tempo Pages: 6 (2373 words) Published: November 26, 2012
MUS 121
Jeffrey Phelps, cello and Lee Jordan-Anders, piano
14 October, 2012
Dr. Ford
Tidewater Community College

The Program

Sonata in A Major, Opus 69 (1808)Ludwig van Beethoven
Allegro, ma non tanto
Scherzo, Allegro molto
Adagio cantabile/Allegro vivace

Sonata (1915)
I.Prologue: Lent, sostenuto e molto risoluto
II.Serenade: Moderement anime
III.Final: Anime, leger et nerveuxClaude Debussy

The Concert

On Sunday, 14 October, Jeffrey Phelps, cello and Lee Jordan-Anders, piano, performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in A Major, Opus 69 (1808) and Claude Debussy’s Sonata (1915) at Trinity Methodist Church in Smithfield Virginia. After the introduction of the performers we were asked to hold all applause until the end of each piece. The first Sonata by Beethoven bears the heading of Inter Lacrimas et Luctum, meaning “Amid Tears and Sorrow.”

The first movement, Allegro, ma non tanto, from Beethoven’s Sonata, opened with the cello resting on one note. The timbre of the cello as it began in a lower register was warm and rich, the tempo starting rather slow. The mood was mournful to me at the beginning and I had no idea what to expect. The texture at the beginning of the first movement was monophonic. As the piano entered the melody for both cello and piano was conjunct with symmetrical phrasing. Here the texture became polyphonic. The tone color of the piano seemed varied to me, alternating throughout the piece between vibrant and subdued. When the mood was not lively it became somber. The dynamics of both instruments changed throughout this movement, from piano to forte and then piano again. The movement of the melody was conjunct at the beginning of the piece and the contour of the melody was wavelike, especially by the piano. This movement began in a major key then abruptly moved into a minor key, where the dynamics were fortissimo. The texture was polyphonic, the counterpoint producing a call and response, as if the cello and piano were holding a conversation. The melody had a narrow to medium range in the beginning of this movement. Repetition allowed all the themes to reappear throughout the movement, which is a trademark of the sonata. The cello and piano take turns performing small solo passages before veering off to something else. At one point early in the piece I heard a homorhythmic texture when cello and piano played the same notes together. After a descending melody from the piano the movement then becomes disjunct with a wavelike contour. It seemed to me that when the melody in the cello ascended, the melody in the piano descended. It had a lyrical mood to it and it was beautiful. The harmony, at this point, was still in a major key as the cello took over, characterized by a timbre that was dark. The mood was one of melancholy and I could feel sorrow. It was interesting to watch Phelps and Jordan-Anders subtly cue one another as the dynamics became pianissimo and the tempo adagio. In the lower registers both cello and piano had a timbre that was warm. In the upper registers it sounded fiery. The texture of the cello here was monophonic with no piano. I was not expecting the explosive part that followed. At about four minutes into the movement the dynamics became fortissimo and I could hear the harmony in a minor key. The contour of the melody descended and was conjunct. There was a return to a major key and the dynamics became piano for both instruments. The mood of this movement reminded me of yearning. The tone color for the piano became brighter here as the cello returned to the warm, rich sound like in the beginning. The contour of the melody was ascending and conjunct. This movement remained in duple meter throughout the piece. There was a return to counterpoint as both cello and piano played, using a polyphonic texture, the dynamics piano...
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