Great artists give free concerts at New England Conservatory—simply because they teach here.
Cellist Carol Ou is known for her ability to play classical music that spans the past four centuries, from traditional European classics to more modern pieces. She has recorded cello concerti by Haydn, Tchaikovsky, and Elgar, as well as performed in such venues as Merkin Concert Hall in New York, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, and the National Ukranian Concert Hall in Kiev.
In this recital, Ou’s ability to perform pieces from many different eras as she performs classics from Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, as well as pieces from the twentieth century by Dimitri Shostakovich and Paul Tortelier. Joining Ou onstage will be her NEC collaborative piano colleague, Pei-Shan Lee.
The pieces included in this program are Schumann's Five Pieces in Folkstyle, op. 102, Brahms’ Sonata in E Minor, op. 38, Tortelier's Sonata Breve, and Shostakovich’s Sonata in D Minor, op. 40.
The romantic tenor of this evening will begin with two of the most lyrical works by 19th century German composers, Robert Schumann and his protegé, Johannes Brahms. The Five Folkstyle Pieces for cello, written in 1848, are humorous, loving, searching, transcendent, and brilliant. Schumann's unusual phrase lengths mimic the simplicity of everyday language and the continuous melodic outpouring makes this the closest that a cellist can get to experience the wonders of Schumann's songs. A work written with youthful romanticism, Brahms' first sonata for cello and piano in e minor, starts with one of the most unforgettably soulful tunes. The rich sonority of the cello becomes one of the main features of this movement. The gracious and brilliant second and third movements make this work a constant audience favorite.
Although the second half of the program leaves the romantic era of the 19th century, the two 20th century composers featured, Tortelier and Shostakovich, romanticized the past in these works. One of the most notable cello pedagogues of the 20th century, Paul Tortelier was a brilliant French cellist, composer, and the inventor of the bent cello end-pin. The Sonata Breve, in 3 brief movements, paints a musical portrait of Alexander the Great's rambunctious and fateful war horse, Bucephalus. One can feel the anticipation and the heat on the Mediterranean and Asiatic battlefields, as the famous warhorse awaits his master's battle cry to deliver the glories of war. One of the most lionized horses of antiquity, Bucephalus died in the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC, in what is present day Pakistan. Like Brahms, Shostakovich also wrote his cello and piano sonata in his youth. It is one of the most lyrical works he ever penned. The sonata begins with a wistful and touching first movement followed by a sardonic and stormy second movement and a bleak and heartbreaking third movement. A sparking finale with explosive piano scales and zesty arpeggios and big leaps in the cello brings this wonderfully imaginative piece to a close.