Concert Review: Grace Park (Naumburg Competition Winner) Recital

January 26, 2020, 6:23 PM · My first UIUC event back in the New Year was a violin recital by Grace Park, winner of the 2018 Naumburg International Violin Competition! (There are a few concerts coming up pretty soon as well that also involve the violin - I'm hoping I can make it to all of them! I already have tickets to see the Jupiter String Quartet on February 4th, and there's an orchestral concert with a soloist this weekend I will have to see if I can attend it this week if it doesn't clash with my studio time for Electroacoustic Music II. It's kind of fun purchasing tickets to my Apple Wallet app on my iPhone. :P)

The afternoon performance opened with Bach's Sonata for Violin and Piano in E Major (BMW 1016). This work really connected me with my counterpoint class I just started, as in that class we are studying mostly Bach. Of course his counterpuntal writing was incredible as always, but the second Adagio movement was stunningly beautiful, full of pathos, and she definitely played on that in a rich Romantic sound. The finale started to get towards the variations idea Bach would later develop into his Goldberg Variations, which we are studying in class.

The second piece was a change on the program (I was looking forward to Stravinsky!), but it was still nice to hear Beethoven's Spring Sonata in its entirety, as I believe I just know that opening gesture from countless TwoSet Violin videos. (After the concert, I watched them react to a heartfelt 2 million subscribers (to their YouTube channel) fan celebration video - it's so great to have a duo like them introducing this fantastic world of classical music to young audiences.) I particularly enjoyed how Beethoven went from the end of the second theme to repeat the first theme in a cleverly sly way.

After the intermission came Dvorák's Romance in F Major, op. 11 - a piece which is based on the slow movement of one of his String Quartets. This work really did a great job of showing Dvorák's beautiful sound world amongst his chamber music. There was even a rhythmic figure in the piano that basically quoted "The Golden Spinning-Wheel", which I played in orchestra.

Finally, Park ended with Brahms' Sonata no. 3 in D Minor, op. 108. This work had all the classic Brahmsian qualities, what with his developing variation and obscuring the bar line, and Park did a wonderful job on the finale, which really showed off the violin's double stops to end the work in a big way.

As an encore, Park played (from memory) Sarasate's showpiece "Introduction and Tarantella" - and wow, was it a spectacular way to end the show! I should mention it was difficult for me to see her violin with her stand in the way, but once she moved it out it was so great to see her fingers flying around the fiddle. She nailed all of these passages and took advantage of showing off her talent through this piece. It was absolutely remarkable and left me wanting more!

I'll probably do a few more "Concert Reviews" on some of these other violin concerts I go and see. In the meantime, I'm definitely enjoying getting back into school and working hard on my pieces again! I just finished a work for Harry Partch's adapted viola (using just intonation), which I'd be happy to share more about maybe after I hear it read - and this weekend (including this morning before the concert) I wrote the beginning and ending movements, based on the same theme, to my tarot card piece. I'll talk more about my music in the future. Hopefully as well I'll get my official website up and running, and one I hope to continue with - I know I've tried having websites in the past, so hopefully this one I've made with Wix will last.


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