Music professors Brent Wissick, cello (UNC) and Andrew Willis, fortepiano (UNCG) will appear in a joint guest faculty recital presenting the complete works for piano and violoncello of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). The recital will take place on Friday, 15 January 2016, 8:00 pm in Person Recital Hall.
Felix Mendelssohn composed two sonatas for piano and cello (Opp.45, 58, the Variations concertantes op.17, and the Lied ohne Worte, opus 109). The Variations and Op.45 sonata were written in 1829 and 1838 (respectively) for Felix's younger brother Paul--an exceptionally talented amateur cellist who, like his father Abraham would become a banker in adult life. A clearly audible unitas fratrum (“brotherly affection") is most apparent and attractive throughout the first sonata (in B-flat Major) and the Variations, which will occupy the first half of the program. The resonant gamesmanship between instruments will provide ample creative excitement for both performers and the audience!!
Mendelssohn’s best known cello works fill the remainder of the program, the Lied ohne Worte (Op.109) and the second sonata (Op.58). The Lied ohne Worte was written for "la violoncelliste parisienne" Lisa Cristiani (1827-1853), who was one of the first female cellists to embark upon a professional concert touring career throughout Europe. She died tragically of cholera in Siberia while on tour tracing the artistic footsteps of her Franco-Belgian countryman Adrien-Francois Servais (1807-1866). The second sonata was written for and premiered by Count Mateusz Vielgorski (1794-1866), one of the “now-hidden giants” of cello and chamber music history. Written in 1843 and 1845, both works share a common key and disposition with the Variations. They each possess an intense degree of Romanticist lyricism balanced and seasoned by the playfulness and sentimentality of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The third movement of the second sonata is most memorable for its use of chorale melody and operatic recitative while maintaining the "wordless song as imperative". Its closing features the cello sounding the twelve strokes of midnight in pizzicato. The D Major Finale is an unrestrained celebration perhaps exceeded only by the Violin Concerto in its "puckish" humor and exuberance.
Performance notes provided by Dr. Timothy Holley.
January 16 at 6:36amFull house last night at Brent Stewart Wissick and Andrew Willis' Mendelssohn concert in Person Hall at UNC. I particularly enjoyed hearing the combination of fortepiano (a copy of an 1820 instrument) and the cello with gut strings, played by two such distinguished gentlemen. To my ear, Mendelssohn's music was the musical equivalent of champagne. A wonderful tour-de-force! (And program notes by our North Carolina Cello Society blog boss, Timothy Holley!) Kudos all around!