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Cellist Charles Wendt will open fall faculty recital series at UI Sept. 19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Cellist Charles Wendt, a 31-year veteran of the University of Iowa School of Music faculty, will open the 1997-98 UI faculty recital series with a free performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Wendt and pianist Barbara Bailey will perform a program of music for cello and piano, including a contribution to the international celebration of Franz Schubert's 200th birthday, the Sonata in A minor D. 821, known as the "Arpeggione" Sonata.

Other works on the program will be the Sonata. op. 6, of American composer Samuel Barber; the Sonata of Claude Debussy; and an arrangement of a piano piece by Mendelssohn, "La Filatrice." The arrangement was made by Luigi Silva, Wendt's mentor and cello teacher at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

Wendt, an active soloist and chamber musician, joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1966. He celebrated his 30th anniversary on the faculty in the spring of 1996 with a memorable program consisting entirely of short pieces suitable for performance as encores.

Samuel Barber was one of the most successful composers of his generation. His music was played and sung by leading performers throughout his professional life. His "Adagio for Strings" -- actually a movement from his String Quartet -- is one of the most popular concert pieces written by an American. His opera "Vanessa" was premiered at the Metropolitan Opera, and another opera. "Anthony and Cleopatra" opened the new Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center in 1966.

Barber's Cello Sonata was written in 1932, at the end of the 22-year-old composer's years of study at the Curtis Institute for Music in Philadelphia. It exhibits the romantic style and warm, lyrical melodies that have made Barber's music popular with audiences.

In addition to his well known orchestral and piano pieces, Debussy wrote several pieces of chamber music. Most are unique works in the composer's output, representing his only major works in their individual genres. The String Quartet of 1893 is among those works, along with three works -- part of a projected set of six that was not completed -- composed in the last years of Debussy's life: the Sonata for cello and piano of 1915, the Sonata for flute, viola and harp completed the same year, and the Sonata for violin and piano of 1916-17, completed only a year before the composer's death in 1918.

An extremely original composer, Debussy always sought new sounds and new ways of creating music. This is certainly true of the Cello Sonata, which Debussy called "Pierrot angry with the moon" -- a reference to the commedia del'arte clown, who traditionally carried a guitar for moonlight serenades. This remark probably refers to the sonata's extensive use of pizzicato, and its avoidance of sustained, extended melodic lines -- traditionally among the cello's most salient qualities.

An almost forgotten instrument, the arpeggione enjoyed a brief life in the early 19th century. Invented in Vienna in 1824, it was a hybrid string instrument, a bass viol with guitar-like metal frets embedded in the arched fingerboard and with six strings tuned like a guitar. It had a guitar-shaped body but was played like the cello.

Schubert wrote his sonata for the arpeggione in November of 1824 for Vincenz Schuster, who was probably the only professional arpeggione player. Although the playing technique is necessarily different, due to the different arrangement of strings, the modern cello can play the Sonata essentially as Schubert wrote it, and as a recital piece for cellists the piece has remained popular with both performers and audiences.

Wendt graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and received his master's degree from Indiana University, where he was awarded the coveted Performer's Certificate. He has appeared as soloist with the Atlanta, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo symphony orchestras. Before coming to the UI, he was assistant first cellist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and principal cellist of the Santa Fe Opera. Currently, he is cellist of the Stradivari Quartet and also principal cellist with the Quad City Symphony.

Bailey, who teaches private piano in Santa Fe, N.M., hold masters and doctoral degrees in music history and literature from Northwestern University. Her seven years as a scholarship student at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music concluded with her highly acclaimed debut with famed conductor Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She has given concerts and lecture recitals of in the eastern and midwestern United States. She has served a visiting instructor at Chicago Conservatory College and at Beloit College in Wisconsin.