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First prize winner of the 2018 Concert Artist Guild International Competition

ALIVEmusica, a collaboration between four Hudson Valley chamber music presenters, is proud to present in its inaugural concert pianist Wynona Wang performing from the stage of the Howland Cultural Center and streaming on September 13, 2020, 8:00 PM.

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Howland Chamber Music Circle
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Chelsea, NY 12512-0224

“She embodies the rare combination of humble devotion to the score, great individual artistry and a special electrifying quality in her playing, all coexisting in perfect harmony.” Alessio Bax, pianist

Artist Website:  Wynona Wang

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Sonata No. 26, Op. 81a
The Farewell — Adagio; Allegro
Absence — Andante espressivo
The Return — Vivacissimamente

Sergei Rachmaninoff  (1873-1943): Sonata No. 1, Op. 28
Allegro moderato
Allegro molto

Program is subject to change

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat, Op. 81a “Les Adieux” (1809)

1809 was a difficult year in Vienna. The Austrian army lost the war and Napoleon’s French army occupied Vienna. Most of Beethoven’s friends left Vienna, including his student, friend and patron Archduke Rudolph, son of Austria’s Emperor Leopold I whose departure greatly affect Beethoven. Thus, the three movements of the sonata are subtitled “Departure”, “Absence” and “Return”.

The Op. 81a sonata is only one of two of Beethoven’s piano sonatas for which he himself provided a title, the other being the Pathetique. Beethoven was very upset with his publisher for giving the sonata a French title “Les Adieux” – his express wish was for a German title “Das Lebewohl” (Farewell). He actually hand-wrote LE-BE-WOHL over the first three notes (G, F, E-flat) that start the sonata. Still, no one should expect programmed music here in the mode of Berlioz or Liszt. Despite the expression of feelings and emotions, the Les Adieux Sonata is a highly integrated work in a well-structured Classical sonata style.

The “Lebewohl” motif starts a slow introduction that creates a sense on uncertainty and distress but gives way to an energetic Allegro movement in a typical Sonata Form, with occasional return of the “Lebewohl” motif. The “Absence” Second movement has a slow processional character with some Beethoven’s most beautiful, gut-wrenching melody, and leads directly to the final “Return” movement, an exuberant, virtuosic expression of happiness. This is one of Beethoven’s most popular sonatas, often performed and recorded – no pianist would ever dare to leave this work behind.

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28 (1908)
Russia’s pianist, conductor, and composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff serves as an important figure in the late romantic piano repertoire, a bridge of sorts from the 19th century Romanticism to the 20th century Modernism. A product of the Moscow Conservatory, an infinitely more conservative institution than the modernist St. Petersburg Conservatory, the Moscow Conservatory being the domain of Tchaikovsky, Arensky and Taneyev, while St. Petersburg was the domain of Rimsky-Korsakov that produced Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich – all instilled in the young Rachmaninoff the neo-classical values of classical form, richness of tonality, polyphonic treatment of thematic material and rhythmic quirkiness.

This neo-classical tendency should have placed Rachmaninoff as a true descendent of Johannes Brahms, into a world of abstract music, but Rachmaninoff’s leanings were toward Franz Liszt, the great master of programmed music. In fact, Rachmaninoff’s inspiration for this sonata was Liszt’s Faust Symphony. While the programmatic elements are skillfully obscured in the D minor Sonata, the three movements of the sonata are musical portraits of prominent characters from Goethe’s Faust: Faust himself, his lover Gretchen, and the devil Mephistopheles, the three movements of the sonata respectively. Rachmaninoff was hesitant to reveal the programmatic nature of the work, even after its Moscow premiere in October 1908. Only later did he reveal its underlying program.

A work of lyricism and grandeur, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No.1, Op. 28 is cast in a three-movement form, the sonata embodies the traditional Classical structure with two faster paced movements framing a more quiet and lyrical central movement.

The sonata is musically complex and quite intricate in its pianism. It requires a pianist of extraordinary technical skill to unravel a tangle of passages, rhythms, harmonies, and polyphonic twists, as Rachmaninoff innovatively extends the capabilities of the piano and the spirit of improvisation. It requires the pianist to be both the soloist and the “orchestra” accompanying himself – such is the symphonic nature of the work. While not as popular as his other two piano sonatas, nevertheless, the work has been a staple in the repertory of several great pianists and was performed frequently by Rachmaninoff himself.

Notes by Michael Lebovitch

Chinese pianist Wynona Wang was selected as First Prize winner of the 2018 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, which is just the latest in a series of impressive first prize performances, along with the 2017 Wideman International Piano Competition in Louisiana. Wynona was also awarded the 2019 “Charlotte White” Career Grant awarded by the Salon de Virtuosi in New York City.

An active performer in China, Europe and the United States, Wynona recently earned her Performer’s Diploma under the tutelage of the eminent pianist Alessio Bax at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While at SMU, she appeared in multiple concerto performances as well as numerous recitals and chamber music concerts, including collaborations with cellist Andres Diaz and with the Escher String Quartet. Her 20-21 season highlights include performances at OKM Music Festival, National Gallery, Kravis Center and more.

Her recent North American performances include the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, and the Meadows Symphony Orchestra of SMU in Dallas, and such major festivals as PianoTexas, Morningside Music Bridge in Calgary, Canada, the International Keyboard Institute & Festival in New York City, and the Chautauqua Institution. Internationally, Wynona has been a featured soloist with the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine, and the Romanian Mihail Jora Philharmonic Orchestra in Italy. She has also given numerous solo piano recitals in China—including cities such as Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Kunming, Ningbo, and Dalian—as well as in Spain (Madrid) and Indonesia (Jakarta).

In addition to her most recent first prize successes, she has also garnered top honors at numerous competitions: the Meadows Concerto Competition at SMU; the Artist Recognition Scholarship Awards Competition at NYC’s International Keyboard Institute & Festival; the Hamamatsu International Piano Academy Competition in Japan; the First Indonesia Pusaka International Piano Competition in Jakarta; IX International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz in Ukraine; and the Chautauqua Piano Competition.

Born in Beijing, Wynona Wang began playing piano at age 4, and went on to study at both the Music Elementary and Secondary schools at the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM) in Beijing. In fall 2016, she was awarded a full scholarship for her Performer’s Diploma at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and she now lives in New York while pursuing her undergraduate degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Dr. Robert McDonald.