JOSEPH HAYDN Piano Sonata in E-flat
Major, Hob. XVI:52
Although most concertgoers more readily associate Haydn with
symphonies and string quartets than with keyboard music, he wrote dozens of
masterful sonatas and other works for both harpsichord and piano. This
showpiece, a perennial concert-hall favorite, was probably inspired by the bold
sonorities of the Broadwood pianos that Haydn heard in London.
ROBERT SCHUMANN Carnaval, Op. 9
Like most of Schumann’s solo piano works of the 1830s, Carnaval was in part a musical valentine
to his future bride, Clara Wieck. But it also memorializes his first love, a
young pianist named Ernestine von Fricken, to whom the composer was briefly engaged.
Underlying the score are the contrasting personalities of Schumann’s fictitious
alter egos: the stormy, impulsive Florestan and the dreamy, ruminative
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF Prelude in G Minor,
Op. 23, No. 5; Prelude in G-sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12; Piano Sonata No. 2 in
B-flat Minor, Op. 36
Rachmaninoff’s Op. 23 and Op. 32 preludes display his
trademark blend of Russian-flavored lyricism and dazzling virtuosity. Dating
from the beginning and end of the first decade of the 20th century, the two
sets also reflect his growing mastery of the pianistic idiom, which came to
fruition in the monumental but highly concentrated musical language of the
Second Piano Sonata.
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Dumka in C Minor, Op. 59; Méditation, Op. 72, No. 5
Tchaikovsky was not in Rachmaninoff’s league as a pianist,
but his piano concertos, sonatas, and shorter pieces are as challenging in
their own way as anything his younger compatriot wrote. These two character pieces
were written toward the end of Tchaikovsky’s life and reflect his abiding interest
in Slavic themes.