April 30, 2008
Orhan and Lecuona present UI faculty recital May 10
Double bassist Volkan Orhon and pianist Réne Lecuona, faculty members in the University of Iowa School of Music, will perform a variety of arrangements for the bass, and one very virtuosic solo originally written for the instrument, when they present a free recital at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 10, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
Until recently, very little solo music was written for the double bass. As a result, it is not unusual for bass players to perform works written for other instruments as way of exploring their instrument's expressive possibilities.
This is something Orhon has done many times: "Bass players are always in the search for music that is written for other instruments," he said. "We all make transcriptions, or arrangements, for the bass. It's something I do, and I encourage my students to do the same."
For the May 10 recital, the program will culminate with Orhon's bass transcription of one of the great works for violin and piano, the Sonata in A Major by Cesar Franck. "The Franck Sonata has a really challenging piano part as well as a bass part," Orhon said. "Réne and I played this program in Indianapolis last month and had a great time with it."
The other arrangements on the program will be "Waldesruhe" (Silent woods), written for cello by Antonin Dvorák; "Luz e Sombra" (Light and shade) from Three Chôros for clarinet and piano by UI faculty member Michael Eckert; and "La Muerte del Ángel" (The death of the angel) for the traditional Argentine tango ensemble by Ástor Piazzola.
The one work originally written for the double bass will be the Introduction and Gavotte by Giovanni Bottesini, a great virtuoso on the bass in the 19th century.
"Waldesruhe" was originally written as part of a set of six pieces for piano four-hands, "From the Bohemian Forest," which Dvorák composed in late 1883 and early 1884. He later arranged the "Waldesruhe" for cello and piano for a tour of Bohemia that he made with cellist Hanus Wihan, a friend of the composer.
"Our colleague Michael Eckert wrote his Three Chôros for Maurita Mead, who teaches clarinet on the UI faculty, and Rafael Dos Santos, a pianist from Brazil," Orhon said. "I heard the premiere of the piece and liked it so much that I asked Michael if it was OK to put it into a bass-friendly key so I could play it as well."
Piazzolla is known as the creator of the "Nuevo Tango" (New Tango), which combines the traditional Argentine dance music and instrumentation with the composer's knowledge of jazz and classical music.
The composer of many virtuosic pieces for the double bass, Bottesini lived during the height of the 19th-century Romantic era. He was a successful opera composer and conductor who conducted the premiere of Verdi's "Aida" and whose own operas played at the major Italian opera houses around the world. As a double bass virtuoso, Bottesini stunned audiences in Europe, South America and the United States.
"The list of his works is known as flashy and difficult for the double bass," Orhon said. "There is no doubt in my mind that not only all the bass players but also every musician in the world would recognize his name by his compositions for double bass."
Orhon joined the UI faculty in the fall of 2002. His professional career spans a wide variety of solo, orchestral and chamber music performing and teaching across the country and around the world. Among other honors, he was the first double bass player ever to win the Grand Prize overall and first prize for double bass at the American String Teachers Association Solo Competition. See http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/STRGorhon.htm or http://www.volkanbass.com/.
Since joining the UI faculty in 1990, Lecuona has performed solo and chamber music throughout the United States and South America, in Mexico and in the Caribbean. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Recital Hall in 1993 with her UI faculty colleague mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle and has also performed in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with soprano Rachel Joselson, also from the UI faculty. See http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/PIANOlecuona.htm.
The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Visit the UI School of Music Web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
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