beethoven on the bluff

David Allen Wehr, Artistic Director

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Beethoven on the Bluff

Beethoven on the Bluff is a two-year concert series exploring the piano chamber music of one of the greatest classical composers, Ludwig van Beethoven. Over the 2013-2015 span, repertoire planned includes six piano trios (featuring the newly-formed Duquesne Piano Trio), ten sonatas for violin and piano, five sonatas for cello and piano, the Septet, the Ninth Symphony in Liszt's two-piano transcription, the Quintet for Piano and Winds, and the monumental Diabelli Variations for piano solo. The series will be under the artistic direction of David Allen Wehr, holder of the Jack W. Geltz Distinguished Piano Chair at the Mary Pappert School of Music.

Season Two: The Late Years

The second season of Beethoven on the Bluff focuses on works from the last decade of Beethoven's life. Although totally deaf, the composer created a body of work that is without equal in its emotional depth and intellectual audacity. While posing steep and severe challenges to the performers, Beethoven's late works continue to appeal and astonish listeners with a complex mixture of mysticism, humor, spirituality and earthiness. Led by Artistic Director David Allen Wehr, holder of the Jack W. Geltz Distinguished Piano Chair at Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music, the performers include faculty colleagues; members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Opera; and internationally renowned guest artists.

Performers:
Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin, PSO Concertmaster
Benjamin Binder, piano*
James Gorton, oboe*
Sari Gruber, soprano, Pittsburgh Opera*
Adam Liu, PSO Assistant Principal Cello*†
Philip Pandolfi, bassoon, PSO*
Cynthia Raim, piano
Ron Samuels, PSO Clarinet*
Zachary Smith, PSO Assistant Principal Horn*
Natasha Snitkovsky, piano*
Charles Stegeman, violin, Pittsburgh Opera/Ballet Concertmaster*†
David Allen Wehr, piano*†
Anne Martindale Williams, PSO Principal Cello

* Mary Pappert School of Music faculty
† Duquesne Piano Trio

All concerts held in the PNC Recital Hall on the first floor of the Mary Pappert School of Music on Duquesne University's campus.
Concert V - 9/7/14

Concert V: Ode to Joy

Sunday, September 7, 2014, 3 p.m.

An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved), Song Cycle for Soprano and Piano, op. 98
Quintet for Piano and Winds, op. 16
Symphony no. 9 (Transcribed for Two Pianos by Liszt), op. 125

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is one of the best-known and beloved works in classical music. The melody of the last movement's Ode to Joy is the anthem of the European Union and is nearly omnipresent in concert and popular culture. An extremely rare complete performance of Franz Liszt's superb two-piano transcription anchors this opening program of the season, played by David Allen Wehr and his longtime piano partner Cynthia Raim. Internationally acclaimed soprano Sari Gruber (most recently heard in Pittsburgh Opera's La Boheme) joins pianist Benjamin Binder for Beethoven's pioneering song cycle, An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved), intended for his "Immortal Beloved," the identity of whom has long been a subject of controversy. Natasha Snitkovsky joins four wind players from the Pittsburgh Symphony for the Piano Quintet, written as a display piece for the composer during his young days as a sensational virtuoso.

Mary Pappert School of Music Faculty:

Benjamin Binder, piano
James Gorton, oboe
Sari Gruber, soprano
Philip Pandolfi, bassoon
Ron Samuels, clarinet
Zachary Smith, horn
Natasha Snitkovsky, piano
David Allen Wehr, piano

Guest Artist:

Cynthia Raim, piano

Concert VI - 10/13/14

Concert VI: Archduke Trio/Diabelli Variations

Monday, October 13, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

Piano Trio (Archduke), op. 97
33 Variations on a Waltz of Diabelli, op. 120

Archduke Rudolf was the youngest son of the Austrian Emperor and a very talented pianist and composer who studied with Beethoven. Rudolf 's patronage and friendship was rewarded with dedications for many of Beethoven's most famous works, including the final Piano Trio, op. 97, performed by the Duquesne Piano Trio, full of melodic breadth, playful surprises and brilliant writing for all three instruments. Beethoven called his 33 Variations on a Waltz of Diabelli his greatest work for piano-a kaleidoscope of imagination, wit, deep sorrow, dazzling technique, and intensity. It inspired a play of the same name that served as Jane Fonda's return to Broadway in 2009 after a 46-year absence. In difficulty and length, it poses one of the supreme tests of both performer and audience.

Mary Pappert School of Music Faculty:

The Duquesne Piano Trio:

David Allen Wehr, piano
Charles Stegeman, violn
Adam Liu, cello

Concert VII - 1/11/15

Concert VII: Violin/Cello III

Sunday, January 11, 2015, 3:00 p.m.

Sonatas for Violin and Piano #1-3, op. 12
Sonatas for Cello and Piano #4 and 5, op. 102

PSO Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley and Principal Cellist Anne Martindale Williams-along with David Allen Wehr-continue the sonata cycles on their respective instruments. This program consists of the first three sonatas for piano and violin, dedicated to Beethoven's friend and teacher Antonio Salieri (of Amadeus notoriety), and the final two sonatas for cello and piano, which serve as a portal to the complex textures and passionate dynamism of Beethoven's late style.

Mary Pappert School of Music Faculty:

David Allen Wehr, piano

Guest Artists:

Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin, Concertmaster, PSO
Anne Martindale Williams, cello, Principal Cello, PSO

Concert VIII - 2/23/15

Concert VIII: Violin/Cello IV

Monday, February 23, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Sonatas for Violin and Piano #9 (Kreutzer) and #10, op. 96
Variations for Cello and Piano

Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano highlights this final program of the series. A work of daring breadth and brilliance for both instruments, it inspired Tolstoy's novella of the same name about passion and murder. Also on the program is Beethoven's final violin sonata, music of lofty and rich sonorities, and sets of variations for cello and piano on melodies from popular works by Mozart and Handel.

Mary Pappert School of Music Faculty:

David Allen Wehr, piano

Guest Artists:

Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin, Concertmaster, PSO
Anne Martindale Williams, cello, Principal Cello, PSO