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April 09, 2009 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-04-09

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"the b-side

The Michigan Daily ( michigandaily.com I Thursday, April 9, 2009

Apr. 9 to Apr.12
KEY, 40
The Ark brings The
Ryan Montbleau Band
back to Ann Arbor this
Friday for an encore
performance after
a memorable show
to a sold-out crowd
during the Folk Festi-
val in January. Their
music, which has been
Mia- described as "infec-
34Z.. 2Ptious jazz-funk-zydeco-
folk," makes for a
dynamic and engaging
live performance. Tick-
ets start at $15. The
show starts at 8 p.m.
Five talented MFA
students have collabo-
rated to present their
Masters theses in one
performance, "Harder,
Faster." Dance is
more than aesthet-
ics here, becoming
a medium through
which these students

the work!
renown pi
ianists in studios and
tu ic.schools often
collaborate to perform
all 32 of Beethoven's
piano sonatas. But just one man
performing all 32 over a two-year
period? That's exactly what the
ambitious pianist Andras Schiff
is doing.
This weekend, the celebrated
Schiff will give the 7th and 8th
concerts in his Beethoven Sonata
Project at Hill Auditorium, pre-
senting sonatas 27 through 32. It's
a daunting enterprise. Sonata 29 is
the famed - and feared - "Ham-
merklavier," Beethoven's longest
and, some say, most difficult piano
sonata. Each sonata is experimen-
tal, distinct and an undeniably
masterful accomplishment.
But if anyone is up to the task,
it's Schiff. He's a Grammy award-
winner, a star-quality interpreter
and a dexterous virtuoso. Echoing
his current project, he tackled all
of Mozart's 27 piano concertos
between 1999 and 2005. And, as is
easily presumed, he has no trouble
with difficult technique. His per-
formances are precise, impeccable
and, in the words of The New
York Times, "luminary."
The University's School of
Music, Theatre & Dance has
endeavored to take the great leap
in exploring Beethoven's sonatas,
stretching boundaries with the
Sonata Obsession series. In the
past two years, the Obsession
series has featured graduate stu-
dents from the piano performance
program playing, as a group, all of
Beethoven's piano sonatas. And
the students have gone one step

students delve into
s of Beethoven with
ianist Andrss Schiff
as inspiration.

further: They've added
all th est of the sonatas
- the performed not
just with piano, but with
other instruments as well.
The idea to do a parallel
(but expanded) series to
Schiff's came from Steven
Whiting, associate dean
for graduate studies, and 3
Logan Skelton, professor
of piano performance at
the School of Music.
Gjergji Gaqi, a School
of Music graduate stu-
dent, is one of these per-
formers. He played the
piano part in Opus 16,
Quintet in E-flat Major
for Piano and Winds and
Opus 102 No. 1, Cello and
Piano Sonata in C Major
as well as performing solo
for Opus 90, Piano Sonata t,
No. 27inEMinor. (Son ataObsession) gave me a
For Gaqi, the series is a
chance to learn and per- better understandingof what
form Beethoven from a
new perspective. Instead Beethoven was thinking
of playing strictly piano g
sonatas, Gaqi also had the
laborative sonatas like the
Cello and Piano Sonata in that is convincing for the audi- ative new ways in his long series.
C Major. ence." And through his innovation, he
"It's a different experience Like Schiff, students are per- is highlighting and exposing
because you're collaborating," forming Beethoven's works in Beethoven's original innovation
Gaqi said. "In solo you may take a chronological order, from earliest as a composer.
lot of liberties, but in collaborat- to latest. It's a different approach In series, Beethoven's subtle
ing, I needed to listen to what - often, performers will include experimentation in musical form
(the cellist) was doing so that our an earlier sonata, a middle sonata becomes more obvious. It's also
music together was working and and one of the later, greater obvious when he develops a prob-
reach some sort of agreement. It's masterpieces. They also often lem or technique through a series
important to create something incorporate at least one popular of works, or abandons an experi-

pour their artistic
careers and cultural
backgrounds. "Harder,
Faster" promises to
be a rare and passion-
ate work. Admission
is $5 at the Duder-
stadt Center Video
Studio, Thursday to
Sunday at 8 p.m.

A three-disc DVD set
seems a little exces-
sive for one film, even
if that film is 2007
Best Picture Oscar
winner "No Country
for Old Men." Still,
this new release of
the bizarre and bloody
Coen Brothers thriller
is worth picking up, as
it includes a number
of special features not
available on the initial
DVD release, includ-
ing a "digital copy"
able to be stored on
your computer. Now
you can watch Anton
Chigurh flip coins on
your iPod all day.

"nicknamed" sonata
(the Pathetique, the
Appassionata, etc.)
somewhere in the
program in order to
appeal to the crowd.
By playing all
of the sonatas in
chronological order,
Schiff presents the
"strongest possible
sense of Beethoven's
gradual maturation
and development as a
composer, using this
genre as a window.
And you can't get that
kind of picture if you
have an early, middle,
late work on every
program," Whiting
Schiff's audience
also gets a chance to
hear sonatas rarely
played anywhere else.
It's a different win-
dow into Beethoven's
works - which is
what classical musi-
cians, especially
students, strive to
achieve with every
piece of music they
encounter. Schiff is an
innovator, producing
o/Daily older music in cre-

ment as unsuccessful or unin-
teresting. Understanding how
Beethoven's works progressed.
from his early efforts to his late
masterpieces is a great undertak-
ing, but the series context makes
it a more manageable task.
"Chronological order is the first
step (in) beginning to think about
causation," Whiting said. "We
have to know what happened first
and what happened second to see
what happened between them.
The Sonata Obsession series
capitalizes on the understanding
process by filling in the blanks
between the piano sonatas.
Beethoven certainly didn't
compose absentmindedly, nor did
he write only piano sonatas at any
given time. He often worked on
pieces of several different types at
once. Piano sonatas, collaborative
sonatas and even symphonies may
have evolved concurrently.
By having students perform the
works that fit between the piano
sonatas, the Sonata Obsession
series makes a broader look pos-
sible and provides more insight
into the texture of Beethoven's
work for piano.
The Sonata Obsession series
also adds otherinstruments to the
sonatas, opening up yet another
Pandora's box of opportunities

Tonight at 8:30 p.m.
the much-anticipated
"Parks and Recreation"
joins NBC's Thursday
night lineup. Star-
ring "SNL" alum Amy
Poehler, the show is
a mockumetary ala
"The Office," following
local government offi-
cials in a small town in
Indiana. Expect some
deliciously palpable
awkwardness, and for
"Parks" to become a
mainstay at NBC.


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