Four faculty pianists performed in the 13th annual Molto Piano Concert on Jan. 25, as a part of the Faculty Artist Concert Series. The concert took place in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall at 7:30 p.m. Professor of Music Rebecca Sorley, Assistant Professor of Music Sharon Parr, Associate Adjunct Professor Minju Choi and Staff Accompanist and Director of Pre-College Program Haruka Ostojić performed a variety of pieces from a diverse group of composers.
Molto Piano comprises piano duets, in which two pianists play on different pianos, and duos, in which the pianists perform at the same piano. This year’s concert also featured a quartet, with two performers at each piano.
The concert began with Choi and Parr performing a duo version of French composer Gabriel Fauré’s “Dolly Suite.” Choi introduced “Dolly Suite.” She said that it was written for Fauré’s mistress’s daughter and included six pieces.
Parr and Sorley performed the second set of pieces, “Souvenirs,” by American composer Samuel Barber. Each of the four pieces was set in a different room of The Plaza Hotel in New York City, Sorley said.
“Souvenirs” was one of Parr’s favorite selections to play.
“I just always thought The Plaza Hotel was so glamorous,” Parr said. “I’ve been there multiple times. I could just picture it. I did really enjoy that aspect because it helped me present these dances with a certain sense of time and place.”
Choi and Sorley followed with Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s “Tango,” the first composition Stravinsky wrote after immigrating to the United States, according to Choi.
Sorley and Parr performed the fourth piece, “Cappriccio d’après Le Bal masqué” by Frenchman Francis Poulenc, on two pianos. Parr introduced the composition and said that Poulenc was inspired to write the piece by the poetry of Max Jacob, a French poet and painter.
Three pieces by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg followed the Poulenc piece. Choi and Sorley performed “Waltz-Caprice No. 2 in E minor,” “Allegro marcato” and “Allegretto tranquillo e grazioso” on the same piano. During the “Allegro marcato,” Sorley, as the player on the lower range of the piano, had the challenge of placing her hand in between Choi’s to play part of the piece.
“It takes some practice,” Sorely said. “That’s something that when you practice by yourself it’s a whole different thing. It was easy when she wasn’t there. It takes forethought to be able to do it and not hit [Choi].”
To conclude the concert, Choi, Sorley and Parr were joined by Ostojić for the quartet. They performed “Waltz” from the opera “Faust” with two pianists at each piano.
Molto Piano began in 2003 with Sorley and Parr. Choi has played with them for the last six years.
Preparation for Molto Piano begins in the summer with the selection of the repertoire. The chosen pieces are usually cohere in some way and fit a theme. This year, each composition was a dance.
Parr and Sorley agreed that Molto Piano is one of their favorite concerts.
“My favorite is to perform with others,” Sorely said. “Making music with friends is what I like the most. It’s just really special to be able to create something with people you like to be around.”
Parr offered a similar view.
“I find that [Sorley and Choi] teach me things,” Parr said. “I learn things from both of them every time I play with them, and that is very special to me. I also find that music-making with people brings a richness that I just enjoy.”