Paula Kosower and Kuang-Hao Huang 

Paula Kosower, cello

Kuang-Hao Huang, piano

January 13, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host


Claude Debussy – Cello Sonata (12′)

Prologue: Lent, sostenuto e molto risoluto

Sérénade: Modérément animé, Fantasque et Léger

Final: Animé, Léger et nerveux

Nadia Boulanger – 3 Pieces for Cello and Piano (8′)

No. 1 in E-flat minor, Moderato

No. 2 in A minor, Sans vitesse et à l’aise

No. 3 in C-sharp minor, Vite et nerveusement rythmé

Ludwig van Beethoven – Cello Sonata No. 5, Op. 102 No. 2 (18′)

I. Allegro con brio

II. Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto

III. Allegro

Paula Kosower is an active performer and teacher who frequently plays with numerous ensembles.  This past season she performed concerts with Fulcrum Point New Music Project, with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, for the Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Music Series, for programs at the Music Institute of Chicago, including the festival honoring George Crumb.  She also performed in faculty chamber music concerts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at Northeastern University. She frequently serves as a substitute player in the cello sections of the Chicago Symphony and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  She is also a member of the contemporary group Picosa, who presents a full season of concerts throughout the Chicago area.  Some of the venues Picosa frequents include the Holtschneider Performing Art Center at DePaul University, Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College, Elmhurst College and the Driehaus Museum in downtown Chicago.

Ms. Kosower teaches applied lessons, cello pedagogy and orchestra repertoire classes and is an adjunct faculty member at several universities in the Chicago area including Northwestern, DePaul, and North Park.  She teaches private cello lessons for pre-college students at the Northwestern University Music Academy.  During the summer season she performs for music festivals such as the Ravinia Festival, the Zenith Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Midsummer’s Music Festival in Wisconsin.  She also has taught at area chamber music camps  organized by Midwest Young Artists and the Chicago Chamber Music Festival.  She received her B.M. and M.M. degree at Indiana University where she was a scholarship student and a graduate teaching assistant of Janos Starker.  She received her D.M. degree at Northwestern University where she studied with Hans Jorgen-Jensen.

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.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Cello Sonata (1914) 

Debussy’s cello sonata of 1914 was composed with the intention of creating a cycle of six sonatas, entitled Six Sonatas for Various Instruments.  The project represented a desire to feature different combinations of instruments, and he planned to include all of the instruments in the sixth and final sonata of the cycle.  Unfortunately Debussy was struggling with terminal cancer at the time, and he managed to finish just three of the sonatas before his death in 1918.  Debussy’s composition has been described as eliciting a “transcendent, dreamy and even mysterious” state through his adventurous use of exotic harmonic modes such as the pentatonic and whole tone scales.  Throughout the work the cello and the piano converse and sustain a dialogue of colorful characters, figures and moods.  What is perhaps not immediately apparent to the listener is although Debussy’s music was so novel in many ways, he was influenced by the classical forms of previous eras.  In a letter to one of his publishers Debussy wrote, “I like proportions and form, which are almost classical in the best sense of the word.”


Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)

3 Pieces for Cello and Piano (1914) 

Like the previously heard Debussy, Three Pieces for Cello and Piano by Nadia Boulanger were also composed in 1914.  Originally written for organ, Boulanger transcribed them for cello and piano, since then becoming well known and cherished among cellists.  Boulanger grew up in Paris in a musical family in which both her father and her sister were composers and her family cultivated strong associations with the Paris Conservatory.  Boulanger was perhaps best remembered for her composition skills, and in particular her teaching influence of many notable twentieth century composers such as Aaron Copland, Phillip Glass, Elliot Carter and Astor Piazolla.  The opening movement is a mysterious, delicate Moderato in E-flat minor, followed by a lament in the appropriately peaceful key of A-minor. We then end with an edgy, almost frantic state characterized in the title Vite et nerveusement rythmé, translating to Quick and nervously paced.


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Cello Sonata No. 5, Op. 102 No. 2 (1815) 

Beethoven’s two cello sonatas of his Op.102, composed in 1815, mark the beginning of what is often referred to as the third or late period in his work.  One can appreciate the complexity of the experimental and dramatic musical ideas that would characterize his later compositions, and were definite departures from any prior expectations in style.  It has been noted that during this period Beethoven was experiencing both physical and mental difficulties due to his progressive deafness which was nearly complete.  In particular the sonata in D major is characterized by a sense of urgency, struggle, and triumph, which challenges both the performer and the listener in its expressive intensity.  This fifth and last of Beethoven’s cello sonatas presents many unique elements, including the only complete slow movement of his cello sonatas.  The third and final movement of the sonata presents an intricate fugue, a form which Beethoven would also use in his late string quartets.  The fugue is full of unexpected changes and harmonies, building in intensity from the beginning to its brilliant conclusion.

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 Rannveig Marta Sarc and Victor Asuncion

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday January 20, 12:15pm

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