By Signe Hammer
In March of last year, Alexander Pashkov gave us two wonderful concerts in St. Paul’s Church. So it’s with great joy that we welcome him back to open our 2021-22 season on Sunday, October 17, at 5pm. As with our sold-out summer concerts, this one will be held inside St. Paul’s, with socially distanced seating at a maximum of 50 percent capacity and standard COVID hygiene protocols in place.
Long an audience favorite, Pashkov was classically trained at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, his skills further honed with the Kirov orchestra under Maestro Valery Gergiev.
As he has played for us many times over the past several years, it has been our great pleasure and privilege to witness his development into a world-class pianist. On the 17, he will treat us to piano works spanning three centuries, from Mozart in the 18th century to Scriabin, who began as a Romantic and transitioned to contemporary in the early 20th century. He will also feature the great nineteenth-century Romantic composers Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms.
The program opens with Mozart’s Sonata in C major, from 1783. In addition to composing and touring as a performer, Mozart wrote a second, easier version of the finale to play when he hadn’t had time to rehearse properly. Containing passages that are not possible on the harpsichord, this sonata also settles the question of whether Mozart preferred the harpsichord or pianoforte (the original name for what became the modern piano).
Next, we’ll hear three pieces by Frédéric Chopin, himself a piano virtuoso. The Impromptu No.1 in A-flat major opens with a blazing series of triplets requiring all the skill of any virtuoso pianist. The next two pieces are dedicated to Chopin’s female students, including the last, the Rondeau, Opus 16, to Caroline Hartmann, a gifted pianist who unfortunately died only a year after studying with both Chopin and Liszt.
The second half of the program starts with works by Robert Schumann, another Romantic icon who introduced the 21-year-old Chopin to Europe. His Arabesque, Opus18, is dedicated to feminist Amalie Friederike Serre, a patron of woman artists. His Variations on the name “Abegg” in F-major reflects a long tradition of deriving musical notes from the letters of a name—in this case, that of Pauline von Abegg, whom Schumann met at age 20, around the time he decided to abandon law in favor of a career in music.
Next, we’ll hear two pieces by Johannes Brahms, the Scherzo, Opus 4, and Three Intermezzi, the latter composed in the year Brahms lost both his sister and a dear friend. Alexander Scriabin’s Sonata No. 4 in F-sharp Major rounds out the program.
Tickets for the concerts at St. Paul’s are 200, 400, and 600 pesos donation each and are on sale through our website and at the concert 45 minutes before performance time.