WVIK/QCSO Signature Series II spares no ambition in tackling Germany’s most legendary classical composers. QCSO Concertmaster Naha Greenholtz and pianist Marian Lee will stun as they maintain a perfect balance between violin and piano during their Feb. 23 performance, all the while sharing the Centennial Hall stage with the audience.
Romanticizing and Reliving Chamber Music
What is perhaps most unique about next Saturday’s program is the proximity between performers and audience.
“I suspect it might be interesting for the audience to see a glimpse of what it is like up close and personal,” Greenholtz said.
Lee agrees. “It will be a really unique perspective for the audience to be able to see what we see as performers,” she said. “They’ll get that chamber music feel by being with us on stage.”
Developed in the 18th century, chamber music is classical in nature and purposely composed for a small group of instruments to be performed in a large room. A rare experience in the 21st century, the sensation will be revived during Signature Series II.
But the intimate experience is exactly what composers like Ludwig van Beethoven envisioned. He and his fellow German giants were instrumental—no pun intended—in pushing classicalism towards the romanticism that largely characterized the 19th century.
“The pieces are very painstakingly composed, put together, and thought out,” said Lee. “The melodies and themes are so strong to have stood the test of time.”
An assistant professor at St. Ambrose University, Pianist Marion Lee has performed all over the world. Yet she approaches every performance with an equal amount of seriousness.
“It’s a lot of responsibility,” Lee said “These pieces are so well-known. You certainly feel the weight on your shoulders to get it right.”
Despite her own momentous career, including graduating from The Julliard School in 2007 and becoming QCSO Concertmaster in 2012, Violinist Naha Greenholtz shares Lee’s disposition.
“There is a range of different styles and moods,” she said. “So aside from the technical difficulty of learning and rehearsing the music, a lot of the challenge is pacing myself emotionally so that I am in the moment, focused, and enjoying the music from start to finish.”
Gigantic, German Pieces
The program begins with Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No 5 in F major “Spring”, Op. 24. Often described as relaxed yet pensive in nature, Beethoven breaks with the usual three movement sonata and goes with four movements instead.
Up next is Clara Schumann’s Three Romances for Violin and Piano, Op. 22. Composed by Schumann in 1853, the piece was inspired by the birthday of her husband and fellow composer, Robert Schumann. Poignant yet energetic, the piece retains a classic sonata structure of three movements.
Lee admires Clara Schumann not just as a composer, but as an individual. “Clara Schumann was an incredible woman,” Lee said. “The fact that she was one of the few female concert pianists of her time and balanced being a mother and wife is just flooring to me.”
Following Schumann is Brahms’ Scherzo from F-A-E Sonata for Violin and Piano in C minor. Firey and passionate, the piece possesses beautiful melodies shared by violin and piano.
Brahms finishes off the program with his Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100, a piece Violinist Naha Greenholtz is particularly excited to perform.
“I feel a very special emotional resonance with Brahms,” she said. “Something about the combination of the formal restraint of the composition, combined with the incredible depth of his emotional world. His music seems to be the perfect combination of the left and right brain.”
Letting Music Lead the Way
Also on display during next Saturday’s performance is the partnership between Greenholtz and Lee. Just as each piece dances perfectly between violin and piano, so must the two performers reflect that synchronicity.
“There is a comfort in rehearsing with Naha,” Lee said. “We have a lot of fun, share a lot of laughter, and have a mutual respect for one another.”
Greenholtz shares the sentiment. “I’ve known Marian now for five years and she is a master musician and wonderful artistic partner. Sometimes discussion is necessary to work out the details of the music.”
“But the more the music leads the way, the more intuitive and natural the music making process can be. I have this kind of connection with Marian and feel so fortunate to make music with her so often.”
Purchase Tickets | $25 Adults | $10 Students
Naha Greenholtz, violin
Marian Lee, piano