KAON '99 Concert

For those attending our conference, we have engaged the services of cellist Emilio Colón and pianist Sung Hoon Mo. A pre-concert discussion with the musicians will begin at 7:30; the concert will begin at 8:00 pm.

The University of Chicago
Goodspeed Recital Hall
June 22, 1999

Emilio W. Colón - cello
Sung Hoon Mo - piano

Sonata in E minor, Op. 38 Johannes Brahms 24 min.
    Allegro (1833 - 1897)
    Allegretto quasi menuetto
Le Grand Tango Astor Piazzolla 9:48 min.
  (1921 - 1992)
I n t e r m i s s i o n 15 min.
Sonata in G minor, Op. 65 Frédéric Chopin 22 min.
    Allegro moderato (1810 - 1849)
    Scherzo: Allegro con Brio
Ziguernerweisen Pablo de Sarasate 8:28 min.
    arr. E. Colón (1848 - 1908)

Program Notes

Johannes Brahms

Sonata in E minor, Op. 38

Though Brahms was not greatly interested in dazzling effects of technique, he was far from indifferent to instrumental color. It was character and warmth of tone that attracted him; thus it is the clarinet and the horn that he most favors among the winds, and the cello among the strings.

Brahms's E Minor Cello Sonata, written in 1865, was his first published full sonata for any instrument other than the piano. He stresses the darker introspective side of the cello, exploiting its capacity to sing a sonorous melody in the low register. At no point does the cello part rise high enough to demand the use of the treble clef.

Janus-like, Brahms turned one face toward the past and another toward the future. Later composers gleaned as much from his linear and rhythmic freedom as from the harmonic and formal innovations of Wagner; but it was Brahms's enthusiasm for music of the distant past, for Palestrina and for even the earliest traces of German folk song, that nourished his liberation of pulse and line, so fresh to 19th-century ears.

This sonata, for all its freshness, is almost self-consciously old-fashioned. In the first movement traditional sonata form is unhurriedly deployed, and its themes have a kind of legendary, "far away and long ago" feeling. The other movements have more specific historical antecedents - one recalls the minuet, the other the fugue - yet even here the backward glance is part of the forward intent. A movement like this quasi-minuet is a clear step toward the folkish Des Knaben Wunderhorn of Mahler, and indeed the contrast of its idiom with that of the first movement suggests a peaceable juxtaposition of past with present and future.

Astor Piazzolla

Le Grand Tango

The great Argentinean bandoneón player and composer Astor Piazzola (born 1921 in Mar de Plata, died 1992 in Buenos Aires), studied with Ginastera and later in Paris with Boulanger. He is a master of the modern tango, with an avant-garde style incorporating jazz, classical and modern dissonances. Le Grand Tango (1982) was written for, and first performed in 1990 by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. The work is composed of three distinctive sections. The first section combines strong rhythmic elements with modern dissonances, and popular song like melodies. The second, is an eloquent but melancholic dialogue, and the last is a fiery, rhythmic dance-like finale.

Frédéric Chopin

Sonata in G minor, Op. 65

Frédéric Chopin is not usually associated with the cello, yet in the catalogue of his compositions there are three works specifically written for that instrument: an Introduction and Polonaise in C, Op. 3 (1830), a Grand Duo in E on themes from Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable (1832), and the present Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65, begun in the autumn of 1845.

"I don't play much, for my piano is out of tune, and I compose even less," wrote Chopin to his family from George Sand's estate at Nohant, 157 miles south of Paris, where he spent the fall of that year. His relationship with the colorful novelist had long since dwindled to a platonic arrangement, but even that state was wearing thin due to domestic crises. Chopin, commencing work on the Cello Sonata, the Barcarolle, and the Polonaise-fantaisie, was continually being distracted by the quarrels of the Sand family, in which he sided with George's daughter, Solange, against her son, Maurice, her adopted daughter, Augustine, and George herself. Although he hoped to complete these works while at Nohant, because "I cannot write in the winter," Chopin returned to Paris in November 1845 with the still-unfinished manuscripts.

By the beginning of the summer, the composer was back at Nohant, trying with difficulty to put up with the increasingly hostile atmosphere. "I am doing everything I can to work," he wrote to Franchomme, dedicaté of the Cello Sonata, "but without success, if this goes on, my new compositions will no longer suggest the warbling of birds or even the crash of breaking china. I must resign myself to this." Lucrezia Floriani, George Sand's thinly disguised portrait of herself and Chopin, had just been published serially in Paris, and the novelist's unsympathetic treatment of the male protagonist immediately became the favorite gossip of the salons. Chopin's visitors to Nohant that summer, too, were well aware of the antagonistic air of the household. The composer, still dependent on George Sand's maternal personality, chose more and more to withdraw to his room in order to avoid open conflict.

"I wish I could fill my letter with the most cheering reports," he wrote to his family on October 11, "but I know nothing except that I love you. With my sonata for cello and piano I am now contented, now discontented. I lay it aside, then I pick it up again. While I am composing a piece it seems good to me; other-wise I wouldn't write it down. Only later there comes reflection, rejecting or accepting it." On the tenth of November, Chopin left for Paris, never again to return to Nohant. His feelings for George Sand had degenerated, at least on the surface, to politeness.

In April 1847, the cellist Franchomme and the composer played the completed sonata at a soirée given at Chopin's lodgings for Delphine Potacka. Following the revisions of this work two months later, he signed a contract with Breitkopf and Hartel in Leipzig and Brandus et Cie in Paris for its publication, along with three mazurkas, Op. 63, and the three waltzes (including the "Minute"), Op. 64. These were the last compositions to be printed in his lifetime.

On Wednesday, February 16, 1848, a distinguished audience of three hundred heard the final three movements of the Cello Sonata as part of Chopin's first recital in Paris in six years. The concert, an enormous success for the pianist, was also to be his last in that city and again included the services of his good friend August-Joseph Franchomme.

Chopin first met Franchomme (1808-1884) when he arrived in Paris in 1831 and was introduced to all the leading musicians of the day. The cellist, later a professor at the Conservatoire, often took part in the musical soirées at which Chopin appeared and soon became an intimate friend of the composer. They collaborated on the Grand Duo in E, and Franchomme not only assisted Chopin with the revision of the cello part in the Opus 3 Polonaise but even helped him prepare a thematic catalogue of his works. Upon Chopin's return from England late in 1848, Franchomme took charge of the ailing composer's precarious financial affairs and at his death was one of the pallbearers. A few days before he died, just after he had received the last sacraments, Chopin asked Franchomme to play something: the opening measures of the Cello Sonata, however, were terminated by a recurrence of the composer's racking coughing fit.

Pablo de Sarasate

Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs)

The Spanish violin virtuoso and composer Pablo Martín Melitón de Sarasate y Navazcués (born 1844 in Pamplona, died 1908 in Biarritz) is known for his charming and effective bravura pieces. Zigeunerweisen (1878), is perhaps his most recognizable composition. It is an eloquent evocation of traditional gypsy airs, lyrical, sentimental and rhythmically exciting.

About the Musicians

Emilio W. Colón

Critically acclaimed cellist Emilio W. Colón has been described by the press in these terms:

His substantive tone, by way of virtuosic bowing techniques which were evocative of freestyle swimming, rang naturally rich to the back row of the hall.

Perhaps the high point of the high points came when Colón's cello rang forth in the Aria section of the piece. Glowing tone became a caress of the ears, a prolonged kiss of melody, an embrace...

A native of Puerto Rico, cellist Emilio W. Colón received a bachelor's degree from the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music in 1986, where he won the Pablo Casals Medal upon graduation. As a student and teaching assistant to the distinguished cellist and pedagogue Janos Starker, Mr. Colón earned a master's degree from Indiana University in 1989. He won first prize at the Las Americas Festival solo competition as well as at Indiana University's concerto competition.

An active chamber musician, Mr. Colón played with the Emile Beaux Jeux piano trio, which won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Sponsorship from Chamber Music America for two consecutive residencies: at Upper Iowa University for the 1993-94 season, and at Iowa's Hawkeye Community College and Jesup Community Schools for the 1994-95 season. From 1996 to 1998 Mr. Colón was a member of the faculty at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, where he performed throughout Florida as a member of the string Trio Vizcaya. Currently he is a member of the Amadé Piano Trio, in residence at Florida Atlantic University.

As a concert cellist, Mr. Colón has toured giving recitals, master classes, and playing as soloist with orchestras in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States. His recordings are featured on the Enharmonic, Zephyr, and Lyras labels. He is an assistant professor of music at Indiana University (the youngest member of the faculty and the second youngest in the history of the school) and the executive vice president of the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center Foundation.

Sung Hoon Mo

Pianist Sung Hoon Mo, is an active recitalist and chamber musician. He has toured throughout Germany, Central America, and Puerto Rico, and has collaborated with such artists as violinist Victor Tretjakov, among others. Mr. Mo also participated in Taos Chamber Music Festival in New Mexico. Last Summer, he was invited to perform and lecture at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee. He has recorded on the Enharmonic label and has been heard on radio broadcasts in New York City in addition to performances on public television.

Mr. Mo has recently completed his Doctoral degree from the Peabody Conservatory. He also received his Master's Degree and Performer's Certificate from Indiana University, and a Bachelor's Degree from the Eastman School of Music.

Mr. Mo is on the faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago in Winnetka and performs frequently in Chicago area. He has been a guest recitalist at the DePaul University on numerous occasions. He has also performed at the Schubert Celebration Series at St. Charles Arts and Music Festival, the Chicago Symphony Chamber Music Series, and has recently performed with the Classical Symphony Orchestra at Preston Bradley Hall.

Revised: June 4, 1999