John Macfarlane and Victor Asuncion 

John Macfarlane, violin

Victor Asuncion, piano

February 24, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host


Richard Strauss – Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18 (29′)

I. Allegro, ma non troppo

II. Improvisation: Andante cantabile

III. Finale: Andante – Allegro

Giuseppe Tartini; arr. Doris Preucil – Adagio (5′)

Violinist John Macfarlane is currently Assistant Principal Second Violin of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, concertmaster of Bach Week, and violinist for the Rembrandt Chamber Musicians.

Macfarlane has performed and toured with some of America’s most prestigious orchestras including The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

He has extensive concertmaster experience including leading the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, and as guest concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony.

Increasingly sought after as a conductor, Macfarlane recently returned from the Tanglewood Music Center conducting seminar. His conducting has been featured on multiple live radio broadcasts on Chicago’s WFMT for the Rush Hour Concerts Series. He has conducted multiple concerts with the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Colorado and has served as Assistant Conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge and the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre in Iowa. Macfarlane received a Bachelor of Music and Certificate in Music Theatre from Northwestern University and a Master of Music from the University of Maryland.

Hailed by The Washington Post for his “poised and imaginative playing,” Filipino-American pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion has appeared in concert halls in Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Turkey and the USA, as a recitalist and concerto soloist.  He played his orchestral debut at the age of 18 with the Manila Chamber Orchestra, and his New York recital debut in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in 1999. In addition, he has worked with conductors including Sergio Esmilla, Enrique Batiz, Mei Ann Chen, Zeev Dorman, Arthur Weisberg, Corrick Brown, David Loebel, Leon Fleisher, Michael Stern, Jordan Tang, and Bobby McFerrin.

A chamber music enthusiast, he has performed with artists such as Lynn Harrell, Zuill Bailey, Andres Diaz, James Dunham, Antonio Meneses, Joshua Roman, Cho-Liang Lin, Giora Schmidt, the Dover, Emerson, Serafin, Sao Paulo, and Vega String Quartets. He was on the chamber music faculty of the Aspen Music Festival, and the Garth Newel Summer Music Festival.  He was also the pianist for the Garth Newel Piano Quartet for three seasons. Festival appearances include the Amelia Island, Highland-Cashiers, Music in the Vineyards, and Santa Fe.

His recordings include the complete Sonatas of L. van Beethoven with cellist Tobias Werner, Sonatas by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff with cellist Joseph Johnson, the Rachmaninoff Sonata with the cellist Evan Drachman, and the Chopin and Grieg Sonatas, also with cellist Evan Drachman. He is featured in the award winning recording “Songs My Father Taught Me” with Lynn Harrell, produced by Louise Frank and WFMT-Chicago.  Mr. Asuncion is the Founder, and Artistic and Board Director of FilAm Music Foundation, a non-profit foundation that is dedicated to promoting Filipino classical musicians through scholarship, and performance.

He received his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 2007 from the University of Maryland at College Park under the tutelage of Rita Sloan. Victor Santiago Asuncion is a Steinway artist.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18 (1887) 

Richard Strauss’s father was a dogmatically conservative musician who brought his son up on a strict diet of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven and did not allow him to know the “radical” works of Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms, let alone those of Liszt and Wagner. Children, however, inevitably deny the strictures of their parents, and Strauss was no exception. This composition is the young composer’s last backward look, although he was not looking back far enough to suit his father. The sonata shows all too clearly that Strauss was already on intimate terms with the music of Schumann and Brahms. Its wide-ranging themes also tell of the new Richard Strauss who, while composing the sonata, was working on his first aggressively and fiercely modern works, the symphonic poems Macbeth and Don Juan. Yet some observers claim to find in this sonata references to Schubert’s Erlkönig and Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata.

Interestingly, Strauss only wrote chamber music in his early years; he composed this sonata in 1887 while he was a twenty-three-year-old staff conductor at the Royal Court Opera in Munich. The work was published in 1888 and quickly became a favorite with violinists. The second movement was so popular that it was often performed separately on recital programs.

The sonata has three big movements, densely packed with musical substance, and is equally brilliant and demanding for both instruments. It opens with a powerfully developed Allegro, ma non troppo in sonata form containing two distinct thematic ideas. Then comes a luxuriant “improvisation,” music resembling a Chopin nocturne, with a contrasting middle section that is in effect the sonata’s scherzo. The third movement is as full and rich as a concerto finale, with piano writing that sometimes has orchestral qualities. In this movement, the brilliant sound foreshadows qualities Strauss was to develop in his later works in other musical forms. Beginning with a short introduction for piano, the brooding subject foretells the heroic main theme of the Allegro, which ends with a great coda.

Strauss notes ©2016 by Susan Halpern. All rights reserved.

Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770);

arr. Doris Preucil


Known as the founder of a notable Italian violin school of playing, Giuseppe Tartini composed over 200 sonatas and 130 concertos for violin in addition to other sinfonia and chamber configurations. Despite the prolific nature of his compositional output, he may be most well known as the composer of the “Devil’s Trill” violin sonata.

While this Adagio was arranged by Doris Preucil to be a part of her ‘Meditative Moments’ Violin collection, this Adagio is originally the slow movement of Giuseppe Tartini’s Violin Concerto in A Major, D. 92. As the collection would suggest, this short work is peaceful and still in nature, ushering the listener into a state of calm and tranquility.

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Union League Club of Chicago.
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are presented in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and 98.7 WFMT

Don’t miss Emma Gerstein, Alexander Love and Winston Choi

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday March 3, 12:15pm

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