Beatrice Chen and Kuang-Hao Huang
Beatrice Chen, viola
Kuang-Hao Huang, piano
March 24, 2021
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
David Schwan, host
Paul Hindemith – Viola Sonata Op. 11, No. 4 (16′)
II. Thema mit Variationen
III. Finale (mit Variationen)
all movements to be performed attacca, without interruption
Rebecca Clarke – Viola Sonata (21′)
I. Impetuoso – ma non troppo Allegro
Beatrice Chen, 17, currently studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Hsin-Yun Huang. Chen has won first prize in various competitions including the Johansen International Competition for Young String Players, Albert M. Greenfield Competition, DePaul Concerto Festival, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras Concerto Competition, and American Protege International Concerto Competition. In 2019, she was named a Finalist and Silver Medalist in Classical Music from the National YoungArts Foundation.
Most recently, Chen was featured on the 2020 HearNOW Gala of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She has been featured as a soloist with the Vicente Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonietta DuPage, and Capital City Symphony. She has played on WRTI, Show 347 of NPR’s From the Top, and twice on WFMT’s Introductions. Additionally, she performed three times at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.
As a member of the Chen String Quartet, Beatrice has given over 70 virtual concerts over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most recently, the quartet appeared on WFMT, Constellations Chamber Concerts in Washington DC, From the Top’s virtual concert series, and twice on the International Music Foundation’s Rush Hour Concert Series.
Chen participated in the Young Performers Program at the Music@Menlo Chamber Music Festival and Institute in 2016. She also spent numerous summers at the Aspen Music Festival and School and participated in the 2017 Finckel-Wu Han Chamber Music Studio. Prior to studying at Curtis, she was principal violist of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras for five years. As a former member of the Ambassador and New World String Quartets, she performed live on WFMT, at Chicago Symphony Center, and at various Chicago public schools. Beatrice has studied with Victoria Chiang, Matthew Lipman, and Paul Neubauer. She plays on a viola made by Keisuke Hori from Chicago in 2015.
Commended for his “perceptive pianism” (Audiophile) and “playing that is sensitive and wonderfully warm” (American Record Guide), Chicagoan Kuang-Hao Huang is a highly sought-after collaborative pianist whose performances have taken him throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, and at every major venue in the Chicago area. Huang has recorded for Aucourant, Cedille, Innova and Naxos, including a CD of flute fantasies with flutist Mathieu Dufour and a premiere recording of early songs by Alban Berg with mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley.
A strong advocate of new music, Huang is a core member of Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Picosa. He has premiered numerous works by major composers including Louis Andriessen and Chen Yi at Weill Hall as part of Carnegie Hall’s Millennium Piano Book Project. He has also appeared on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series.
In addition to serving on the faculties of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and Concordia University-Chicago, Huang is Associate Artistic Director for the International Music Foundation and is the driving force behind Make Music Chicago. He also founded IMF’s Pianos in the Parks program, which partners with the Chicago Park District to give all Chicagoans access to outdoor pianos and free lessons.
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)
Viola Sonata Op. 11, No. 4 (1919)
The year 1919 marked a turning point in Paul Hindemith’s career. Previously a violinist, he switched to viola and started composing more professionally. In this year, he wrote a set of six sonatas (Opus 11) for string instruments. After premiering many of these works himself – the Opus 11 No. 4 being one of them – he obtained a publishing contract with Schott Music lasting his entire career. To this day, he is widely recognized for his large contributions to the viola repertoire, having one of the largest outputs for the instrument.
The Opus 11 sonatas also mark the establishment of Hindemith’s growing maturity in composition. The Opus 11 No. 4 Sonata shows a shift in musical tradition; Hindemith utilizes influences from folk-like melodies, Debussy’s Russian inspirations, and traditional counterpoint techniques to evoke expression without excess sentiment. It is written in three movements, all performed without break. Movement one is a Fantasie functioning as an introduction, employing free forms with the uses of cadenzas and Impressionistic influences. The other two movements are a set of themes and variations, exploring constantly changing meter and harmony as well as subsequent character changes.
Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Viola Sonata (1919)
Rebecca Clarke’s Viola Sonata was written for a competition at the 1919 Berkshire Music Festival, where it tied for first place with Ernest Bloch. It later received honorable mention and a performance in a tie-breaking vote by Elizabeth Coolidge, the competition’s main patron. Given the requirements for composers to submit their works anonymously, some were so impressed by Clarke’s work that they believed that her name was a pseudonym for Bloch himself. However, Clarke has since achieved recognition for her own work and this Sonata is widely performed today as one of her most known compositions. Later in her life, she composed a few more works, including a piano trio premiered by her frequent collaborator and former classmate–Dame Myra Hess.
According to Clarke herself, the Viola Sonata was inspired “quite a lot by Debussy, and also influenced by Vaughan Williams, who was a friend of mine and whose music I admired very much.” Indeed, the sonata combines Impressionism in harmony and texture with simple English-inspired melodies. The first movement, Impetuoso, starts with a fanfare and improvisational prelude by the viola alone, and is later interspersed with sweeping melodies and more serene ideas. The second movement, Vivace, is a sparkling scherzo showing off a wide range of textures and characters. The third and final movement, Adagio, is a rhapsodic fantasy utilizing both simple, expressive melodies and flowing chromatic and pentatonic harmonies.
Don’t miss the Feder Duo next week on the
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!
Wednesday March 31, 12:15pm