Senior duet evokes ‘emotional vulnerability’ through song

By Michelle Seitz Staff writer

Vocal music education major Sierra Jesanis and violinist Victoria Hogan performed their senior recital on March 26, accompanied by Lecturer in Music Ilya Blinov and sophomore Benjamin Nylander on piano. The preparation process relied heavily on practicing daily and focusing mostly on technique and expression.

Jesanis, who is a mezzo soprano, said, “It can be a very intense and frustrating process, but being able to put on a recital with a final product you’re proud of is extremely rewarding and makes the process so worth it.”

The first piece Jesanis performed was “Hence, Iris, Hence Away” from the opera “Semele,” accompanied by Blinov on piano. It was composed by George Friedric Handel during the 18th century. According to the program, the opera was originally criticized for its sexual content and English text. “Hence, Iris, Hence Away” is one of the most performed arias out of the opera..

The duet then performed “Schafers Klagelied,” which translates to Shepherd’s Lament, and “Die Junge Nonn, D. 828,” composed by Franz Schubert. Schubert is thought of as one of the greatest composers of the late Classical and early Romantic periods. “Schafers Klagelied” was the first piece performed in a public concert. It tells the story of a shepherd searching for his beloved. “Die Junge Nonne” follows a young woman’s transition to becoming a nun and fully devoting herself to the Lord. According to the program, the piece’s accompaniment denotes a violent storm that symbolizes the woman’s spiritual journey.

Hogan then performed the first sonatina of Schubert’s “Three Sonatinas for Violin and Piano, op. 137, no. 1” titled “Allegro molto.” She was accompanied by Nylander on piano. According to the program, Schubert’s sonatas were printed after his death—his publisher renamed them “sonatinas”—although they were composed when he was just 19 years old. He also wrote his fourth “Tragic” symphony around the same time. The sonatas emulate pieces by Mozart more so than Beethoven, whom Schubert idolized the most.

“Allegro molto” expresses more innocence than some of his other works. This is displayed mostly through the first half of the movement, which is light and playful and introduces a short frequent theme. The second half is more intense and embeds a motif from the original theme, which is modified throughout. The piece concludes with an abrupt, unison fortissimo.

Hogan and Nylander then proceeded to play the second movement of Max Bruch’s “Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor” titled “Adagio.” According to the program, the concerto is Bruch’s most acclaimed work and the most popular violin piece.

“Adagio” opens with a sweet but rich melody that is embellished by the orchestra. This theme is constant throughout the movement. Sections of the melody transition into that beginning with a triumphant tumult that calms into a sweeter, passionate close. The movement closes with a heartbreaking return to the second half of the theme in the violin solo and leads to a dramatic climax in the violin’s upper register before concluding in a calmer assuaged memory.

Jesanis and Hogan then performed “Violons dans le soir [1907]” composed by Camille Saint-Saens, with Blinov on piano. According to the program, this is one of the last pieces in the Baroque period that featured an instrument and a singer as equals. Both the violin and voice coincide to display a conversation between two characters without overpowering the other. The piano accompaniment sets a lovely scene for the violin and voice while the violin enhances the piece’s text, which is a poem about the beauty of the violin, written by Anna de Noalilles.

After a brief intermission, Jesanis and Blinov performed “The Old Stoic” and “On the Moors” by John Duke. According to the program, these pieces put poems by author Emily Bronte to music in an obscure way. There are no recordings of the pieces or evidence that they were ever performed.

“The Old Stoic” features a dark, minimalist accompaniment, while “On The Moors” features unconventional harmonies and lyrical lines.

The duet then performed “Fetes galantes,” “Mai’ and “Quand la nuit n’est pas etoilee,” composed by Reynaldo Hahn. According to the program, Hahn often incorporated romance in his pieces and the cycle of finding and losing love. “Fetes galantes” tells of falling in love, “Mai” speaks of the anticipation of whether or not the feeling is mutual and “Quand la nuit n’est pas etoilee” expresses the heartbreak of losing the one you love.

Jesanis said, “It was a powerful experience being to able to sing this piece and let myself feel the emotional vulnerability of it and evoke that in my performance.”

The final piece was performed by Hogan and Nylander. “Scene de ballet, op. 100” was composed by Charles Auguste de Beriot. According to the program, it is one of de Beriot’s most popular compositions and exemplifies his exciting and Romantic style. Numerous violin techniques are incorporated throughout the piece, such as ricochet bowing and bariolage, which are rapid, repeated string crossings that outline chords, harmonics and double stops. It opens with staccato, unified chords that make way for the violin solo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *