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Release: Sept. 7, 2001

Appold to play music for solo violin, sonatas with piano Sept. 21

Violinist Amy Appold will perform music for solo violin and sonatas with pianist Heidi Williams in a free University of Iowa faculty/guest recital at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Appold, who performs both as a soloist and as first violinist of the Maia String Quartet, quartet-in-residence at the UI School of Music, will play three works that are considered monuments of the violin repertoire, one each from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

Alone, she will play J.S. Bach's Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo violin, S1004, and with Williams, she will perform Beethoven's Sonata in A major, op. 47, known as the "Kreutzer" Sonata, and Debussy's Sonata for violin and piano.

"Heidi and I are old friends from our days at Peabody Conservatory of Music" Appold said, "so we decided that performing together would be a wonderful idea. We will be playing the same program in three other locations within two weeks."

Bach's six solo sonatas and partitas are considered among the greatest monuments and most significant challenges of the violin repertoire. They were composed in 1720, relatively early in Bach's career. At that time, unaccompanied music for violin was already an old tradition in Germany and Austria. Because the violinist plays without any accompaniment, the entire musical interest must be carried by the one instrument -- a daunting challenge to composer and performer alike.

The partitas for solo violin are among Bach's works that represent collections of dance types. These collections usually consisted of a half-dozen dances grouped into slow-fast pairs. The Partita in D minor for Solo Violin adds a lengthy final movement in the style of a Chaconne, or a series of variations on a repeating sequence of harmonies.

"The D-minor Partita is one of my favorite of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin," Appold said. "The Chaconne is an incredible movement, about 15 minutes in length. It is, in my opinion, one of the great compositions of all time, for any instrument."

In addition to his well known orchestral and piano pieces, Debussy wrote several pieces of chamber music. Most are unique works in the composer's output, representing his only major works in their individual genres. These include three works -- part of a projected set of six that was not completed -- composed in the last years of Debussy's life: the Sonata for cello and piano of 1915, the Sonata for flute, viola and harp completed the same year, and the Sonata for violin and piano of 1916-17, completed only a year before the composer's death in 1918.

"The Violin Sonata is very quixotic and changeable," Appold explained. "Heidi and I find ourselves referring to lots of 'splicing' in the music -- abrupt shifts from one character to another.

Parts of it are sexy, other parts exciting or quirky, mischievous, playful, jazzy, or sensuous. And it uses a lot of interesting sounds and harmonic colors."

Beethoven's10 sonatas for violin and piano are among the few works that are ranked alongside Bach's sonatas and partitas for both their musical and expressive weight and their technical difficulties. Among the Sonatas, none is better known -- or more challenging to the performer -- than the monumental "Kreutzer" Sonata, composed in 1802-03. These were the years when Beethoven wrote his first major works, including the first three symphonies, the first three piano concertos, and several of his best known piano sonatas, among them the "Moonlight."

Appold described the "Kreutzer" Sonata as having a "very brilliant, stormy, virtuosic first movement. The theme and variations in the second movement is absolutely gorgeous, and the third is playful and virtuosic again, sort of a tarantella or very fast dance-like movement."

Appold is a founding member and first violinist of the Maia String Quartet. Her extensive performing experience also includes positions with the Youngstown and Canton symphonies and the Isabella Gardner Museum Chamber Orchestra in Boston and solo performances with the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony and the Bach Ensemble of Baltimore. She won first place in the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition and subsequently performed a concerto with the Cleveland Institute Symphony.

Appold has a bachelor's degree from the Cleveland Institute and a master's degree from the Peabody Conservatory. With the other members of the Maia String Quartet she held a two-year graduate quartet-in-residence fellowship from the Juilliard School.

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. They are in their third year as quartet in residence at the UI.

Winner of the 2000 St. Louis Artist Presentation Society Auditions, pianist Williams is the newest member on the piano faculty at the Southern Illinois University School of Music in Carbondale. Williams has appeared in solo and chamber music performances across the United States and in France, and has won numerous awards including the La Gesse Foundation Piano Fellowship, the Baltimore Music Club Competition, the W. Frederick Schaad Award at the Carmel National Chamber Music Competition, the Chicago Musical Arts Competition and the Peabody Sidney M. Friedberg Prize in Chamber Music.

Her engagements have included a performance in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, a debut as soloist with the Oregon Symphony and a recital of Polish music given in honor of Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski sponsored by the Walters Art Gallery and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.