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Emily Grossman

Program Notes (written on the way out the door)

November 8, 2008 at 12:52 PM


Schubert’s Sonata in D Major, one of his earlier works, was written when he was just nineteen. Since a Schubert lullaby was the very first piece I ever remember hearing as an infant, his music has always connected me to a feeling of deep-rooted innocence. Schubert’s youthful presence in this piece appealed to me, and its second movement is perhaps one of the most tender pieces I’ve ever played. The first movement will draw you into its story, and the last movement is simply charming.

The Double From Bach’s Partita in B Minor forms the conclusion to a series of variations on a mournful theme. In conversational instances, some people find that repetition can lead to mundanity, but some things I never get tired of discussing (for instance, the price of gas, the weather, or current politics). Don’t get me started on the subject matter in Bach’s B minor partita. By the time I reach the eighth movement, I’m all worked up. I could go on, but this is all he wrote.

Jean-Marie Leclair was a French composer and violinist in the early 18th century. So was his brother, who also happened to be named Jean-Marie. One of the two died a violent death, murdered by his nephew outside his own home (though the ambiguity makes it difficult to ascribe this demise to one or the other). In contrast, the Sonata in D Major speaks with clarity and rigor, bursting with liveliness. The piece contains an element of strong rhythmic pulse, which lends a dance-like effect to each movement. Be warned however: quick feet are required for the conclusion.

One day on a hunch, I looked up Stravinky’s home town and discovered what I already suspected: this composer lived at the same latitude as Soldotna, only one continent over from ours. This is the only explanation I can find that he was able to perfectly capture in Serenata the persistent length of boreal winters that plague both Soldotna and St. Petersburg. With each pulse from the piano’s bass, another day passes in muted shades of white on white.

Town and field lay hushed in snow--yet in each home a fire glows.

Bartok deserves the admiration he receives for being able to find rough-hewn folk tunes, cut and polish them, and place them in such settings that they sparkle at every turn of the phrase. His Roumanian Folk Dances do just this. The first movement is a “stick dance”, while the second is a “sash dance”–-use your imagination. The third movement requires even more imagination, since the rough translation means “stomping” “standing still” or “in one place”. It is the only piece I’ve played which consists entirely of harmonics, an effect that, on the violin, creates a floating, whistling sound. The fourth movement was originally played by a hornpipe, and the fifth and sixth movements meld together, beginning with a polka, and then picking up speed into Maruntel, which means “fast dance.” It’s a brilliant finish for any recital.

From Laurie Niles
Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 10:44 PM

Congratulations on your recital! Did you have fun? :)

From Keith Laurie
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 12:21 AM

I really enjoyed your recital last night, Emily. Well done, and thank you!

[At the close of her wonderful performance, which she capped off with a rousing Romanian folk dance, all Emily had to say - in a quiet voice with a shy smile - was: "I brought some cookies..."]

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 2:34 AM

Ha, maybe next time I'll find my stage voice and use it:  "Attention ladies and gentlemen, I have brought for  you some cookies!"  :)

Laurie, I have a couple of recordings to share.  I'll have to see if I can figure it out, but I may need some help with that.  Thanks for the congrats!  It was a really special moment in my life, giving my first open-to-the-public recital.  I wasn't quite as nervous as I'd imagined... I hope it just keeps getting better from here.

From Nate Robinson
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 6:15 AM

Wow, nice program notes!  I never knew any of that about Leclair.  I actually also just played that sonata at church with harpsichord a couple months ago. 

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 8:04 AM

Harpsichord, oh, I can totally hear that!  I bet that's a great combination for that piece.  If anyone happens to know which Jean-Marie was murdered, and also why anyone would name two of their kids exactly the same, let me know!

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 8:43 AM

Ah, never mind, I just did some research.  As it turns out, my Sonata composer was indeed the one who was mysteriously murdered.  He was survived by his younger brother of the same name.  My guess about the double naming:

Jean-Marie was a family name that had been passed down through the generations.  For some reason, the parents foresaw the need for a backup plan, in case of the mysterious murder of the elder brother.   "Oh no, Jean-Marie is dead!  Good thing we still have Jean-Marie.  And look, he plays the violin, too."

From Nate Robinson
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 5:23 PM

Ha Ha, that must be the same reason the boxer George Foreman named his 5 sons 'George' :)

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 6:49 PM

I have a sudden urge to have 5 kids and name them all George.  Even the girls. 

From Jim W. Miller
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 9:44 PM

I new a little kid with the same name as the family dog, Kane.  Don't know why, except the woman mentioned once she'd had the dog a long time, and I figure she liked the name enough to name the kid that too when she got married. The dog Kane then became  "Kane The Dog" to differentiate. I also knew a two little kids named Brother and Sister.  I knew a guy named Indian.  I knew a family who named their kid "Poyan."
"Yes, from the Bible."
Can you guess the explanation ?


From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 10:49 PM

Wait, don't tell me...

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 10, 2008 at 2:50 AM

Okay, I give up.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted via on November 10, 2008 at 1:26 PM


From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 10, 2008 at 8:12 PM

Oh yeah, forgot about that battle of Waterloo, right after  Moses booked it down from Ararat with those commandments.  Those two really shook it up!

From Keith Laurie
Posted via on November 11, 2008 at 6:28 AM

I recall reading that LeClair was murdered by his wife because of a mistress (or vice-versa).

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 11, 2008 at 7:04 AM

Perhaps that was Jean-Marie the younger.  Perhaps namesakes weren't the only thing that ran in the family.

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