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Release: March 31, 2000

Beethoven violin/piano cycle will be performed by Vogel and Hofmann April 14, 16 and 19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The duo of violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel from the University of Iowa School of Music and pianist Ulrich Hofmann from the music conservatory in Essen, Germany, will perform the complete cycle of 10 sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven in a series of three faculty/guest recitals.

The performances, which will be free and open to the public, will be at 8 p.m. Friday, April 14; 3 p.m. Sunday, April 16; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, all in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The 10 sonatas of Beethoven are considered some of the greatest challenges of the violin repertoire. And along with the solo partitas and sonatas of J.S. Bach and a few other works, they are regarded as works of musical and expressive weight that are equal to their technical difficulties.

"The Beethoven Sonatas are almost never played complete as a single series," Vogel said. "When all the sonatas are performed, they are usually spread throughout a season. Putting them together within a single week represents one of the most challenging events in the violin-piano repertoire."

Performing the 10 sonatas as a cycle is something Vogel and Hofmann decided to do after they had performed together for more than seven years. "Our sonata repertoire that we have performed together ranges from Baroque to contemporary works, and naturally included most of the Beethoven sonatas," she said. "We thought it might be a wonderful challenge to do the complete set after so many years of working together.

"We got invited to do it for the first time in the beginning of 2000, and since the feedback was so extraordinary, we were asked to do the complete Mozart cycle next year."

Beethoven's earliest violin sonatas, a set of three published as op. 12, were composed in 1797 and 98, before he had established himself as a composer and pianist in Vienna. In the next few years he wrote several more violin sonatas: op. 23 and 24 around 1800, the set of three op. 20 in 1801-02, and the monumental "Kreutzer" Sonata op. 47, in 1802-03. These were the years when Beethoven wrote his first major works, including the op. 18 string quartets, the first three symphonies, the first three piano concertos, and several of his best known piano sonatas, among them the "Pathetique" and the "Moonlight."

After a period of several years Beethoven wrote his 10th and final violin sonata in 1812. This was at the height of his fame and productivity, the same year as the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies and around the same time as several works in what is known as Beethoven's "Heroic" style, including the Fifth Piano Concerto and the "Archduke" Trio.

Although nine of the 10 sonatas are from the first of Beethoven's compositional periods, there is great variety of style and character among them. Part of the challenge of performing the sonatas is to find the expressive qualities of each.

Vogel said it was tricky deciding how to put the 10 sonatas into three programs. "While preparing the cycle, Ulrich and I had several discussions on how we would put the order in the three recitals," she explained. "I had a very strong vision of presenting at least some parts of it in chronological order, since it's so wonderfully logical. If you look at the first three sonatas, for example, they are such joyful, light and sparkling pieces, especially op. 12 nos. 1 and 2.

"But then Beethoven writes his op. 23, a dark,, almost dramatic piece with such drive, not even including a real slow movement, no relaxation whatsoever, immediately followed by op. 24, this wonderful, innocent 'Spring' Sonata. I always feel especially that by playing op. 23 and op. 24 in order, how the "Spring" Sonata brings the sun out after the dramatic storms of op. 24."

"But we also wanted to have good contrast within each program, so it is not as simple as playing them all in chronological order. We will play the first sonata on the first program, and the tenth sonata on the last program, and in between, some parts will be chronological and some parts will not."

Vogel joined the UI faculty in 1999. She has performed extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, playing as a soloist with orchestra, a solo recitalist and chamber musician. She has appeared at the Aspen, Ravinia, Chautauqua, Menuhin and Schleswig-Holstein festivals, among others.

Vogel began studying the violin at the age of four. She played her solo debut at the Dusseldorf, Germany, Tonhalle (Concert hall) when she was 12. She received solo and chamber music diplomas for her studies in Germany, then completed an artist diploma with the famed violin teacher Dorothy DeLay.

Prior to her appointment at the UI, Vogel taught at the Folkwang Hochschule Essen in Germany. She has taught master classes in Europe, the United States and Asia, and was artist in residence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she taught on the faculty and was a member of the Monticello Trio. She has won numerous performance competitions, and was selected to play in the "Bundesauswahl Konzerte junger Kuenstler," a national German young artists concert series.

She has appeared on radio and television broadcasts in Europe and the United States, and has recorded CDs of music by Beethoven, Ravel, Smetana, Shostakovich and Richard Strauss. She plays on a 1787 violin made by violinmaker Lorenzo Storioni. The instrument has been loaned to her by the Stiftung Kunst und Kulture des Landes NRW (Art and cultural foundation of Nordrhein-Westfallen).

Hofmann teaches piano at the Folkwang Hochschule Essen. In 1990 he was also invited to be on the faculty of the Europaische Musikakdemie (European Music Academy) in Bonn, and in 1996 he was appointed to the faculty of the Hochschule fur Music in Wurzburg, Germany. An active performer as soloist, chamber musician and song accompanist, Hofmann has played in major European concert halls including the Residenz in Munich, the Philharmonie in Berlin and the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.

Since 1988 Hofmann has been a regular performer at the International Music Festival in Aarosa, Switzerland. He has also been invited to perform at the Scotia Music Festival in Halifax, Canada, the Albermarle Festival in Virginia, the Festival Castello di Bracciano in Rome, Italy, and at the National Concert House in Taiwan.

His performances have been broadcast on most major European radio stations.

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Ludwig van Beethoven
10 Sonatas for violin and piano
Annette-Barbara Vogel, violin
Ulrich Hofmann, piano

8 p.m. , April 14
Clapp Recital Hall

Sonata No. 1 in D major, op. 12 no. 1
Sonata No. 6 in A major, op. 30, no. 1
Sonata No. 9 in A major, op. 47 ("Kreutzer" Sonata)

3 p.m. Sunday, April 16
Clapp Recital Hall

Sonata No. 4 in A minor, op. 23
Sonata No. 5 in F major, op. 24 ("Spring" Sonata)
Sonata No. 3 in E-flat major, op. 12, no. 3
Sonata No. 8 in G major, op. 30, no. 3

8 p.m. Wednesday, April 19
Clapp Recital Hall

Sonata No. 2 in A major, op. 12 no. 2
Sonata No. 10 in G major, op. 96
Sonata No. 7 in C minor, op. 30, no. 2