Sara Su Jones ’91 and Tatyana Stepanova Perform Set of Miniature Pieces

Sara Su Jones ’91 and Tatyana Stepanova first began experimenting with a miniatures-only concert six years ago at a performance in Chicago.

Sara Su Jones ’91 held her violin, took a deep breath, and started to play a cascade of accented quarter notes from bass to high treble while Tatyana Stepanova added low chords on the piano. In the middle of the piece, the mood shifted, with the violin and piano weaving together to create a light, fast-paced melody. Stepanova played two chords that accented a long, low note from Jones, ending the piece.

“You always want to start a program with a piece that’s full of energy, as my late teacher Mark Zinger[a] would always say, you want to start with sound, with really great sound… Make a statement as soon as you’re on stage…That’s obviously something that the piece does,” said Jones.

“Praeludium and Allegro in the Style of Gaetano Pugnani” by Fritz Kreisler was the first of eight pieces that Jones and Stepanova performed last Friday night in the Timken Room. Jones and Stepanova, who have been performing together since December 2008, chose a variety of miniature pieces, such as “Fantasy Etudes” by Gwyneth Walker ABB ’64, instead of more traditional large-scale sonatas.

“Including miniatures enables me to include a lot more variety in the program and do something I’m passionate about, which is to present works that are rarely performed these days. Not many other people are performing some of the pieces that I play. They’re great pieces, and they should continue to live and be part of our world. Having programs in this format lets me fulfill a part of my musical mission that I’m passionate about,” said Jones.

Between pieces, Jones took the time to tell anecdotes about her time as an Andover student. She described this recital as her “homecoming recital”—her first full-length, public recital on campus since her senior recital in 1991. Stepanova described how she felt both musicians were able to connect with the audience.

“Because of the format of the concert, I feel that it’s really fresh and friendly that [Jones] made comments between the pieces. I think it makes the audience [feel] closer to the performers, as if we’re friends. We trust them, and they’re ready to participate in what we’re going to deliver to them. It’s [a] kind of mutual enrichment when we’re in cooperation with the audience,” said Stepanova.

Audience member Joyce Li ’23 said that her favorite piece was “La Capricieuse” by Edward Elgar because she liked how playful and fun it was. Her favorite aspect of the concert was the variety of the pieces played and their short duration.

“I like how there were some really dramatic pieces, like the first one, which was super dramatic and sophisticated. Some of the other ones were more playful and waltzy. I liked how there were a lot of pieces, and they were all pretty short, like under eight minutes,” said Li.