Concert Report 3

For the third concert, I went to Anne Akiko Meyers’ concert at EMPAC on April 18th. The concert started at 8pm and lasted for around two hours. Meyers performed six pieces. She wore a really cool black dress, and I found it interesting how the piano player managed to provide background without overwhelming Meyers’ violin playing. Meyers kept in good time with the pianist, and since they communicated with each other by nodding there was no need for a conductor.

The first piece was Beethoven’s Sonata in D major. This piece included three movements: an allegro con brio, a theme and variations, and a rondo. I didn’t get a program until intermission, so I thought these were three different pieces. Meyers did not talk about this piece, which was a contrast to Barbara Nissman, who enjoyed talking about the pieces she played. In the allegro movement, everything was consonant and had a Romantic vibe. The movement ended with two definite notes. The second movement was a theme and variations movement, and was started by the pianist. There was lots of dynamic contrast in the beginning of this movement, as well as some call and response between the violin and piano. There was some modulation involved. In my notes, I wrote that there was some Haydn-like dynamic contrast used for emphasis. The third movement had a bright and cheery start, and both instruments used glissandi during the movement. The dynamic contrast in this movement was more gradual than in the previous movement.

The second piece was Fratres, written by Arvo Pärt. Meyers realized that there were no program notes, so she gave a talk before the piece. She said that there are many versions of the piece, and that the original was for violin and piano. She told a funny story about playing the piece for its composer. The piece started with a cadenza and employed gradual changes in notes and dynamics. The pitch range was high for the violin, and lower for the piano. Changes in the music tended to come after a response from the piano. There was little to no dissonance in this piece.

The third piece was Fantasia by Einojuhani Rautavaara. Meyers told the story about how she commissioned this piece, and that it was Rautavaara’s last work before his death. The piece starts with intense piano and a slow-mid tempo. It uses long, drawn-out notes and gradual dynamic changes. The piece was really beautiful, and about halfway through I stopped taking notes because my mind went completely blank. This one was my favorite, even though I took the least amount of notes.

The fourth piece was Ravel’s Tzigane. There were lots of tempo changes, and on multiple occasions Meyers plucked the strings. I couldn’t tell what meter the piece was in. At some point, one of the strings on Meyers’ bow broke off and she had to tear it off. The fifth piece was Magnum Mysterium, written for Meyers by Morten Lauridsen. The piece had a slow start on the piano. The violin entered smoothly. The piece had a slow tempo and was full of emotion. Phrases were resolved and there was thematic repetition. There was a false ending, and some people clapped. There was great cooperation between Meyers and the pianist for this piece.

The last piece, Wreck of the Umbria by Jakub Ciupinsky, was different from the rest. A screen came down, and Meyers talked about the piece. It was written by a young Polish composer for Meyers, and had video accompaniment. The video depicted wreckage of a ship shot down during war. There was a drone and some sound effects accompanying Meyers throughout the piece. At certain points, Meyers slid the bow across the strings creakily to evoke the creaking of the ship.

Unlike the other concerts I’ve gone to, this one did not have an encore. I appreciated that EMPAC is on campus because it made it convenient to get to. Meyers is funny, so I enjoyed her talks between the different pieces. If Meyers comes back to campus, I will seriously consider going to another concert.