Sonia Mantell and Victor Asuncion
Sonia Mantell, cello
Victor Asuncion, piano
March 10, 2021
Dame Myra Hess
David Schwan, host
Kevin Day – Cello Sonata (15′)
I. Allegro Agitato
Claude Debussy – Intermezzo L. 27 (5′)
Laura Netzel – Cello Sonata, Op. 66 (16′)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Cantabile ma non troppo lento
III. Allegro appassionato
Sonia Mantell, cellist from Orland Park, Illinois, studied at New England Conservatory and DePaul School of Music under the tutelage of Natasha Brofksy and Brant Taylor respectively. She was appointed co-principal cellist of the NEC orchestras and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. While attending DePaul, she won the Concerto Competition with violinist Ari Urban and performed the Brahms Double Concerto with the DePaul Symphony. She has attended summer festivals at Aspen, National Orchestral Institute, Music Academy of the West and Tanglewood Music Center. Sonia has been an active performer in Chicago: She won a substitute position with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has performed with both the CSO and their MusicNow series of contemporary music. She has played with Music of the Baroque and the Rembrandt Chamber Series. Sonia also participated in the inaugural year of the 2017 Barnes Ensemble Festival in Philadelphia, PA. In 2018, she won a position as substitute for the Minnesota Orchestra. Most recently, Sonia played with Lyric Opera of Chicago for a one year position in their 2018/19 season, won a cello section position with the orchestra in December of 2018 and then played her last season with them in 19/20. She returned to Tanglewood for five summers, the last two being the cellist of the New Fromm Quartet program. During her first summer there in 2015, she was awarded as the recipient of the Samuel Mayes Memorial Cello Award. She has collaborated with the following musicians in chamber performances: YoYo Ma, Leon Fleisher, members of the Jack Quartet, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera Orchestra. Sonia currently lives in Minneapolis and started playing with the Minnesota Orchestra in the Fall of 2020.
Hailed by The Washington Post for his “poised and imaginative playing,” 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.
A chamber music enthusiast, he has performed with artists such as Lynn Harrell, Zuill Bailey, Andres Diaz, Antonio Meneses, Joshua Roman, Cho-Liang Lin, , and many others. 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. His recordings include the complete Sonatas of L. van Beethoven with cellist Tobias Werner, Sonatas by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff with cellist Joseph Johnson, and the Rachmaninoff Sonata with the cellist Evan Drachman. He is also featured in the award winning recording “Songs My Father Taught Me” with Lynn Harrell, produced by Louise Frank and WFMT-Chicago.
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 Asuncion is a Steinway artist. www.victorasuncion.com
Kevin Day (b. 1996)
Cello Sonata (2016)
Kevin Day was born in Charleston, West Virginia in 1996. Although he grew up in a musical family, he taught himself piano at an early age. He received his Bachelors of Music degree in Tuba/Euphonium Performance from Texas Christian University and is currently pursuing his Masters of Music in Music Composition at the University of Georgia. Day has composed over 100 works for various ensembles which have been premiered across the United States.
In the summer of 2016, composer Frank Ticheli suggested to Day that he consider expanding his tonal and harmonic language when writing his Cello Sonata. The first movement, Allegro Agitato, contains a mixture of driving rhythms and soaring lyrical passages. In contrast, the second movement titled Lento (dedicated to his niece, Naomi, who was only a few months old when Day left home for the summer) depicts feelings of longing and melancholy. His third movement, Giocoso, is a wild romp of energized motifs, constantly interweaving virtuosic passages from the piano to the cello line. The cello cadenza is only a few lines long, but packs a mighty punch launching into the final passages of the work.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Intermezzo L. 27
Claude Debussy was a french composer and is commonly referred to as the first ‘Impressionist’ composer, though he rejected that term vehemently. In the early 1880s he composed his Piano Trio and other early cello works, but the date for his Intermezzo for cello and piano remains unknown. Debussy did not intend for this work to be published, but around 1930, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky came across it and had it published for the first time in 1944. In the undated autograph, it states that the piece is an arrangement of the fourth movement of a suite for cello and orchestra but no other information is given. This Intermezzo has a sense of grandeu
Laura Netzel (1839-1927)
Cello Sonata, Op. 66 (1899)
Laura Netzel (or N. Lago, her pseudonym), was born in Finland and grew up in Stockholm, Sweden. She took both piano and voice lessons and as a teenager was already performing with orchestras as piano soloist. In the 1880s she studied composition in France and published over 70 works for choir, chamber music, piano solos, organ, voice and orchestra. Netzel was also a pioneer for the Nordic Women’s rights movement and used her composition earnings to help found a children’s hospital and a women’s refuge. Netzel also challenged the social norms during her time by conducting her own choral and orchestra concerts.
Netzel was 60 years old when she wrote her cello sonata in 1899. The first movement, Allegro Moderato, is filled with romantic and delicate colors with the piano and cello line constantly melting into one another to create these rich textures. The second movement, Cantabile ma non troppo lento, highlights the cello and its capability to be intimate and emulate the human voice. The final movement, Allegro appassionato, is bright and bubbling with it’s French style evident, with its constant and quick shift of characters. Netzel’s work explores the boundaries of cello technique, utilizing a huge octave range and brilliant virtuosic passages.
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