The KSO's Concertmaster & Friends series has experienced a sea change, with a new captain at the helm. Concertmaster William Shaub brings more youth and vigor to a series that was already pretty youthful and vigorous. The series has always been a forum which combined virtuoso violin repertoire and staples of chamber music literature, and that will continue under Will's leadership. The opening installments of the 2017-18 campaign will be this Wednesday and Thursday at 7:00, at the Knoxville Museum of Art. The program will consist of works by Sarasate, Franck and Beethoven.
Pablo Sarasate was a Spanish violin prodigy from the later 19th century whose considerable technical prowess and pure tone were complemented by a distinctly Spanish compositional style which motivated his contemporaries throughout Europe. He was the first to translate Spanish melody, rhythm and soul into violin-ese, inspiring the composition of Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo capriccioso and Lalo's Symphonie espagnole. Will and pianist Kevin Class will perform Sarasate's Romanza Andaluza, from the “Spanish Dances” to open the program.
The first half centerpiece will be César Franck's iconic Sonata for Violin and Piano from 1886. A highly regarded organist, pianist and teacher, Belgian-born Franck's composing output was sparse until this work (and several that followed) put him on the map in a big way. The four-movement Sonata was presented to the titanic Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe as a wedding gift in September of 1886, and was performed at the wedding with a guest, Léontine Bordes-Pène playing the piano part. The first public performance took place in a Brussels museum on December 16th of that year. Somehow the concert ran long, and despite an official ban on artificial light at the museum, the two performers played the final three movements from memory in the dark. Will and Kevin will have no such predicament, I assure you.
The concluding work will be Beethoven's Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4. It's the only minor-key quartet in the Op. 18 folio of 6 quartets, which were commissioned by Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz (not to be confused with Lefkowitz!) of Bohemia. Three of its movements are of an excitable, stormy nature, with only the Andante scherzoso quasi Allegretto standing out with a quirky charm for comic relief.