Internationally renowned German concert pianist, Natalia Ehwald, plays program of Debussy, Ravel, Chopin and Schubert. Enjoy “not-so-light” fare with admission.
Visiting from Berlin, Germany, international concert pianist, Natalia Ehwald, makes her third appearance at Classically Alive. Since 2015, Natalia has so touched everyone present at her performances here. Her 2018 program, “Paris to Vienna”, in the first half features three immortal Paris-based composers, Chopin, Debussy and Ravel. The second half is dedicated to another one of the greats, Schubert, who never strayed far from beloved Vienna.
Opening the program are four selected Preludes by the Impressionistic master, Claude Debussy; the famous Girl with the Flaxen Hair, the evocative Footsteps in the Snow, the exotic Dancers from Delphi, and the fun, satirical Minstrels.
Next, a late work of Chopin is featured, the Nocturne in B Major, Op. 62, a composition of lyrical beauty, plus with the depth of Chopin’s late style. Chopin didn’t go in for titles, but it’s nickname, the “Tube Rose”, is certainly apt. Closing the first half, is the Sonatine by Maurice Ravel. While Debussy and Ravel are regarded as the two greatest Impressionists, Ravel’s music has more of Classical period influence than Debussy’s. The Sonatine, in Classical sonata-form, follows the familiar fast-slow-fast three movement structure. The first movement is mainly lyrical with beautiful themes and pianistic figuration to fill out the texture. The second movement slows the pace with a graceful minuet, followed by the brilliant, pianistically challenging finale. The work is titled Sonatine, as in a shortened version of the sonata. While the work is under fifteen minutes, it is still very demanding, and it is a highly regarded work of the core piano repertoire.
In the second half is one major work, the “big A Major” Sonata by Schubert. Now, here is a monumental sonata, clocking in at about forty minutes, one of the last works written by Schubert, just 3 months before his death at the tender age of 31. Schubert’s health had been failing for the last 5-6 years of his life. So close to death, yet here we have a work that is a complete outpouring of the totality of life. The piece has some darker moments, but so much of the work is life-affirming.
The first movement exhibits nobility and a Beethoven-like intensity, and Schubert here paints in very broad landscapes. The second movement is slow, and has one of Schubert’s most heartbreaking melodies and with a folk-like simplicity. But then in the middle of the slow movement, there is a massive gone-wild eruption into one of Schubert’s most defiant, shocking outpourings, only to give way to a reprise of the opening melancholic theme. Now time to lighten up with the brief third movement with Schubert entertaining us with a Scherzo, which literally translates to “joke”. The fourth finale movement returns with a beautiful flowing melody, one of Schubert’s most inspired and radiant. Joy and happiness are predominate here, but with some nostalgic and stormy episodes thrown in. A break-neck coda is added at the end, as the sonata concludes with its noble, imposing final chords bringing the big A Major to a glorious finish. You could listen to a recording, but it is not the same. To hear this work live is totally over-the-top, and it is great to finally hear it at Classically Alive.
General admission: $25
Children 13 and under: Free
Phone: (719) 229-2239