Rannveig Marta Sarc and Victor Asuncion
Rannveig Marta Sarc, violin
Victor Asuncion, piano
January 20, 2021
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
David Schwan, host
Lili Boulanger – Two Pieces for Violin and Piano (5′)
Cécile Chaminade – 3 Morceaux, Op. 31(16′)
Maurice Ravel – Sonata No. 2 in G Major, M. 77 (17′)
III. Perpetuum mobile
Icelandic-Slovenian violinist, Rannveig Marta Sarc, was born into a family of musicians and has performed throughout Europe, North America and Asia. She has received numerous awards, including the first prize at TEMSIG National Music Competition of Slovenia and third prize at New York International Artists Competition. She is also a recipient of the Jean Pierre Jacquillat and the American Scandinavian Society Cultural grants. She has appeared as soloist with the Iceland Symphony, Slovene Philharmonic and Iceland Youth Symphony Orchestras, among others. As a chamber musician, she has performed with Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players and been invited to festivals including Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Taos School of Music, Prussia Cove and Kneisel Hall. Other festival appearances include Aspen, Sarasota and the Moritzburg Festival Academy in Germany, where she was concertmaster.
Rannveig is an avid performer of contemporary music and recently commissioned six duos for violin and viola by six Icelandic women with her mother, Svava Bernharðsdóttir. For 2 years, Rannveig was part of Juilliard’s Gluck Community Service Fellowship, bringing the arts into community centers and health-care facilities in New York in collaborations with dancers and actors.
Rannveig holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, where she was a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship. Her teachers were Catherine Cho, Laurie Smukler and Donald Weilerstein, as well as Robert Mealy on baroque violin.
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
Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)
Two Pieces for Violin and Piano (1911/1914)
Lili Boulanger, hailed as a prodigy at two-years old by Gabriel Fauré, was the first woman to ever win the Prix de Rome – a prize sought unsuccessfully by Maurice Ravel five times. Boulanger’s music was well received by critics and she was on a path to become one of the great French composers; however, she unfortunately lived with a chronic illness which led to her untimely passing at age twenty-four.
Her 2 Pieces for Violin and Piano are among her simpler works, but nevertheless showcase her unique and imaginative gift for harmony. The Nocturne begins with a peaceful but somewhat mysterious violin melody, lifted by an inspired harmonic progression from the piano, and speckled with constant unexpected turns. The Cortége is light-hearted and sweet, with the violin playing an innocent, almost child-like tune.
Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)
3 Morceaux, Op. 31 (1887)
Cécile Chaminade was another musical pioneer and in 1913 became the first woman to win the Légion d’Honneur. Her father strongly disapproved of her early musical education, and as a result, she didn’t appear in a public performance until at the age of eighteen. Her compositions received mixed reviews, and while she was often celebrated on her tours abroad, her popularity gradually diminished throughout her lifetime, as her Romantic style was considered outdated during the rapid rise in the popularity of Modernism. It can be argued that Chaminade’s critics were more fueled by gender bias and prejudice than by stylistic preference. She was chastised for being too “feminine” when her style was charming and beautiful, and lambasted for being too “masculine” or “virile” when she dared to write music that was less elegant in nature. However, Chaminade’s resilience led to almost all of her works – almost 400 of them – to be published.
Chaminade’s 3 Pieces for Violin and Piano (1887) represent the quintessential late-romantic French style with her memorable melodies and unique yet accessible harmonies. The Andantino is somewhat stormy and dramatic and contrasts the Romanza, which is lovely and elegant. The Bohémienne is a virtuosic show piece which recalls Carmen, the famous opera by Georges Bizet, an important early mentor to her.
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Sonata No. 2 in G Major,
M. 77 (1927)
It is impossible to describe Maurice Ravel’s music with only a few words, as his style was ever evolving and increasingly innovative. Ravel struggled to win important prizes (such as the Prix de Rome) as his music constantly defied standard expectations. This innovation, and at times, this defiance, permeates his second violin sonata. Ravel believed that the violin and piano, a traditionally beloved combination, were incompatible instruments and thus took almost 4 years to complete the sonata. In this work, he purposefully highlights the differences between the instruments, setting them up as two individual but equal voices. The first movement begins with a flowing melody introduced by the piano but which is quickly interrupted by the violin. The two instruments continue to tangle in playful competition, each highlighting their unique textures and tamber. The second movement bears the title “Blues” and is a jazzy movement written through the lens of a French classical composer. Ravel was fascinated by jazz and the blues and believed it was one of the “greatest American musical assets.” The last movement is a fast perpetual motion, challenging how fast the violin can play and never allowing it a break until the climactic ending, where the two instruments finally seem to come to an agreement.
Don’t miss Anastasiya Squires and Stephen Squires
next week on the
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!
Wednesday January 27, 12:15pm