Chamber music evening: Anna Smirnova & Yestyn Griffith
Anna Smirnova and Yestyn Griffith will perform their final duo concert in Estonia with a versatile program consisting of music by Johannes Brahms, Manuel de Falla, and Benjamin Britten. Anna and Yestyn began playing together in 2020 with a series of concerts focusing on Estonian chamber music. They later won a grant from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre while participating in the 2021 International Piano Chamber Music Competition in Tallinn. It is through this grant that they now present a final concert consisting of warm and intimate chamber music to contrast the cold Estonian winter.
Johannes Brahms Sonata nr 2 for violin and piano A major op 100 (1886)
This is a beautifully intimate and melodic piece which effectively blends the depth and power of Brahms with the intricate style of communication so prevalent in chamber music settings. The piece was written during a particularly jovial and peaceful summer vacation in Switzerland during which Brahms composed several of his lighter pieces. He wrote of the area that it was “so full of melodies that one has to be careful not to step on any”. This piece uses some of those melodies in a composition which never veers into dark territory, but rather indulges in a warm and playful character throughout.
Manuel de Falla piece “Siete canciones populares españolas” (Seven Spanish Folk Songs) (1914)
El paño moruno
Cycle combines several Spanish folk melodies from various parts of Spain into a passionate and fiery display of styles from the region. Each movement deals with a different aspect of love and courtship. From the Jota where the singer expresses excitement at the nature of a blooming infatuation to the violent Polo where the singer frantically laments the nature of corrupted love after discovering the actions of an unfaithful partner. This arrangement for violin and piano by the Polish violinist and composer Paul Kochanski expertly applies Falla’s music to a more chamber focused setting which still preserves the passion found in the original vocal setting.
Ryan Adams “Summer Day” (2022)
“This piece is titled “Summer Song” for the very simple reason that I began sketches for this piece just this past summer. While writing, I had the very strong urge to write something which would feel like a song. Some time passed and I nearly forgot about these sketches. However, I was traveling in Pärnu for the Pärnu Muusikafestival, and after hearing many talented violin soloists, I had a vision to compose a piece for violin and piano. I immediately contacted Yestyn and Anna to ask if they may be interested in working on a piece together. Luckily, they agreed and I decided to begin work using these sketches which were composed during a summer evening here in Tallinn. Thus, Summer Song was born.”
Benjamin Britten Suite for violin and piano op. 6 (1935)
This suite presents a set of remarkably intense and varied movements which push both the violin and piano to the limits of virtuosity. The piece loosely adheres to Schoenbergian principles of composition through the use of light tone rows. Along with complex compositional technique, Britten presents phenomenally crafted melodies and colors which contrast each other brilliantly throughout the movements. There is a great deal of humor found in the way that one movement may contradict itself several times within the span of just a few bars. The Waltz finale for example presents a genial and nearly juvenile melody which is then harshly interrupted by a frantic and frenetic statement before being contrasted again by a mysterious and tonally uncertain phrase which emerges from the remnants of the previous interruption. Other movements such as the Lullaby are absolutely genuine in their portrayal of a specific mood and emotion.”