ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: From Beethoven to Shostakovich: Student Recital Spotlights Pieces From All Eras

With smooth notes, Angelreana Choi ’20 began playing an enchanting, dance-like rhythm on the flute from the third movement of “Suite Modale for Flute and Piano” by Ernest Bloch. Accompanied by Rebecca Plummer, Adjunct Instructor in Music, on the piano, Choi continued with a slower-paced, airy melody before returning to the initial enchanting rhythm, concluding the movement with a delicate, but energetic atmosphere.

Choi was one of seven performers in the Student Recital on Sunday afternoon in the Timken Room of Graves Hall. As a part of Family Weekend, the concert featured a wide variety of musicians performing pieces ranging from classical sonatas to romantic waltzes.

The recital opened with Ruide Wang ’18 playing the third movement of “Sonata in D minor Op. 31, No 2, ‘Tempest’” by Ludwig van Beethoven on the piano. Wang opened the song gracefully, playing smooth, long notes in a repeating rhythm. As the composition progressed, the repetition of the opening melody slowly became more resonant, creating tension through the sharper notes. The piece concluded with an unexpectedly quiet phrase of notes, evoking a sense of incompletion in the piece.

“In this particular movement, [Beethoven] is repeating the same rhythmic pattern again and again but there are variations with melodies and dynamics, which makes it really cool. You can feel the composer walking in in circles to find something again and again with the repetitiveness. Also, there is no specific ending. It just ends with a diminuendo. It is kind of unsatisfying, but I feel like what that is what Beethoven is trying to express. It is really cool for me and the audience to have this tension and anxiety, just searching around and not getting it,” said Wang.

Daniel Yen ’18 followed Wang’s piece with a cello performance of the second movement of “Cello Sonata Op. 40 in D minor” by Dmitri Shostakovich, accompanied by Plummer on the piano. With strong, deliberate bow strokes, Yen opened the piece with repeated ascending notes, creating an energetic and light-hearted tone throughout the song. As the piece reached its climax, Yen began playing a series of notes with quick and choppy bow strokes, the pitch of each note quickly increasing. Yen then closed the piece with a resounding plucked chord.

“The piece is my cello teacher’s favorite piece out of all the cello pieces, so it was really exciting that she had me play it. I wanted to perform because performing is fun and it is good to get performance experience. I used to get really bad stage fright. These days it’s better because I perform a lot more. Whenever, I get a chance to perform, I always perform and increase my exposure to audiences,” said Yen.

The final performance was Sophie Liu ’20 playing “Polonaise Op. 26, No. 1” by Frédéric Chopin on the piano. The Polonaise, a slow dance originating from Poland, began with several frantic, deep chords before introducing a soft lyrical melody. According to Liu, the two contrasting parts of the piece were used by Chopin to express nostalgic grief he had for the struggles of his homeland.

“I enjoy playing Chopin a lot. His works allow for great self expression and romantic imagination. This Polonaise, in particular, despite being music for a professional dance, involves a dramatic contrast between two sections. I like playing pieces that allow for such an emotional connection as it pushes me to try to find a line to follow, and also to project the story of the piece towards the audience,” said Liu.