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CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
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Release: March 10, 2000

Maia Quartet's first violinist to play sonatas with piano, solo works

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Amy Appold will step out of a role that is familiar to local audiences -- as first violinist of the University of Iowa's resident string quartet -- to present a solo recital with pianist Ksenia Nosikova at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 26 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Appold is a founding member of the Maia String Quartet, now the UI quartet in residence, but she also has extensive experience as a solo player, starting with a performance with the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony more than a dozen years ago and including a first prize with the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition while a student, a solo appearance with the Bach Ensemble of Baltimore, and many solo recitals.

Until now, however, she has appeared locally only as a member of the quartet. For her first solo recital at the UI, she has chosen two major sonatas for violin and piano -- the Sonata No. 8 in
G major of Beethoven and the Sonata No 3 in D minor of Brahms -- and two works for solo violin without accompaniment -- the Serenade for Solo Violin of 20th-century composer Hans Werner Henze and the Sonata for Solo Violin, op. 27 no. 3 ("Ballade"), of the great Belgian violin virtuoso Eugene Ysaye.

The Beethoven Sonata, Appold says, is "generally an exuberant, joyful work." It is one of three violin sonatas that Beethoven composed 1801-02, around the time of the first major works that earned the young composer a reputation in Vienna, including his First Symphony, his first two piano concertos and his first set of string quartets. Interestingly, the sonatas, published together as op. 30, were dedicated not to a violinist or one of Beethoven's Viennese patrons, but to Czar Alexander of Russia, admired by Beethoven as an enlightened monarch.

Brahms' three sonatas for violin and piano are regarded as landmarks in the 19th-century Romantic repertory. The Third Sonata was composed relatively late in Brahms' career, in the summers of 1886-88 while Brahms was staying in Thun, Switzerland. It is longer than either of the first two sonatas and generally more somber.

"His first two sonatas are essentially pastoral and lyrical," Appold said, "but the third is quite fiery and passionate. Like other works that he wrote in Switzerland at this time, it seems to exude the 'Alpine majesty' of his surroundings."

Music for a solo stringed instrument without accompaniment was one of the staples of the Baroque period, culminating in the six sonatas and partitas for solo violin and the six suites for solo cello of J.S. Bach. In the 19th century, however, composers favored richer tone colors and more complex sounds, and the solo piece disappeared as an important medium for string players.

Eugene Ysaye, who was a successful composer and conductor as well as one of the greatest violinists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, picked up the Baroque tradition by writing six sonatas for solo violin, each dedicated to a different violinist. All six sonatas explore new techniques and possibilities for the violin, making them ideal show pieces for virtuoso performers. The Third Sonata was written in 1924 and dedicated to the Romanian violinist and composer Georges Enesco.

In the 20th century other composers have followed Ysaye's lead by writing unaccompanied pieces for violin. The German composer Hans Werner Henze, who has been one of the most successful and widely performed European composers of the post-World War II generation, wrote his short and whimsical Serenade for Solo Violin in 1986 in celebration of the 70th birthday of violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

In addition to her chamber music and solo performances, Appold has been a member of the Youngstown and Canton symphonies and the Isabella Gardner Museum Chamber Orchestra in Boston. Prior to their appointment at the UI, Appold and the other members of the Maia Quartet were quartet in residence for the Acadiana Symphony in Lafayette, La., serving as first-chair players in the orchestra's string sections. The members of the quartet have also served on the chamber music faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.

Founded in1990, the Maia Quartet has established itself nationally with performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. In recent years they have collaborated with other leading chamber musicians around the world, and they have had summer teaching engagements at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School.

Nosikova, who joined the UI faculty in 1998, has performed extensively as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. She gave her New York debut performance in 1996 in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She has performed concertos with the Louisiana Symphony, the University of Colorado Symphony and the Jefferson Symphony. She has toured the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy with a piano trio from the Moscow Conservatory. She has also performed extensively as vocal accompanist, appearing at international competitions in 'sHertogenbosch, the Netherlands, and Stuttgart, Germany.

Nosikova has been a prize winner in numerous piano competitions, including the Frinna Awerbach International Piano Competition in New York, the Alabama International Piano Competition, and the Ibla International Piano Competition in Italy, to which she returned in 1999 as a jury member.

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.

(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Ksenia Nosikova is pronounced k'SAY-nee-ah no-see-COH-vah. Hans Werner Henze is pronounced hahns VER-ner HEN-zeh. Eugene Ysaye is pronounced yoo-ZHEN ee-ZYE-ee.)