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Release: Nov. 22, 2002


Cellist Anthony Arnone describes the program for his upcoming recital with pianist Ksenia Nosikova -- at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus -- as “three warhorses of the cello repertoire.”

It would be just as accurate to describe it as “three centuries of cello music,” since the three works -- Beethoven’s Sonata No. 2 in G minor, op. 5 no. 2; Chopin’s Sonata in G minor, op. 65; and Prokofiev’s Sonata in C major, op. 119, to list them in chronological order -- come from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. But however you describe it, the program comprises three major works for the cello, in three very different styles.

It’s a program that Arnone is looking forward to. “This will be the first time Ksenia and I have played together,” he said. “I am very excited to play with her and share this music together.”

Speaking of the individual pieces, Arnone commented that “the Beethoven has one of the most intense first movements of his sonatas for cello and piano. The second and final movement, however, is a complete contrast: very playful and youthful.

“Prokofiev only wrote the one sonata for cello and piano. It is typical Prokofiev in character: sudden modulations, dark, almost cold themes in the first movement. The ending is quite spectacular and surprising.

“The Chopin Sonata is again the composer’s only sonata for cello and piano. Chopin, being a superb pianist, shows off the virtuosity of the piano, while showing off the cello’s lyricism with some of the most lyrical and wonderful melodies in the repertoire.”

At the age of 25 Beethoven was gaining a reputation in Vienna as a pianist and composer. To solidify his emerging career, he embarked on a concert tour in February 1796, not long after his 25th birthday. He traveled first to Prague, where he gave a public concert, then to Dresden, where he played for the Elector of Saxony. His next stop was Berlin, where he played several concerts before Friedrich Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia and an amateur cellist.

To win the favor of the king, Beethoven wrote for these performances several new works for cello and piano, including the two Sonatas Op. 5 and a set of variations on Handel's theme -- chosen to subtly flatter the king — “See, the conqu’ring hero comes.” Beethoven dedicated these works to Friedrich Wilhelm and performed them with Jean Louis Duport, the first cellist of the court orchestra and a well known cello virtuoso.

Prokofiev wrote very little chamber music: the sextet known as the “Overture on Jewish Themes,” two string quartets and a sonata each for violin, cello and flute are the major works.

The Cello Sonata was completed in 1949, at a time when Prokofiev was suffering from both declining health and denunciations from the Soviet musical establishment. Many of his works from the last years of his life -- including the Seventh Symphony and various patriotic works -- are now considered feeble attempts to regain official favor, but the Cello Sonata is one great exception to that view. Its robust and tuneful melodies have made it one of Prokofiev’s most admired and popular works.

Although Chopin was principally a composer of piano music, he also wrote four pieces of chamber music. Three of them -- a trio for piano, violin and cello, and two works for cello and piano -- are early works that are seldom performed, but the Sonata in G minor for cello and piano, composed at the height of Chopin's career in 1845-46, is considered one of the great works of the cello repertoire.

Now in his second year on the UI string faculty, Arnone is a founding member of the Meriden Trio and the Sedgwick String Quartet, which regularly performs at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. He was principal cellist of the Madison Symphony in Wisconsin 1996-2001, was a member of the Orchestra Philharmonique de Nice and the Wichita Symphony, and was principal cellist of the Spoleto Festival in Italy 1992-1997.

Arnone has taught master classes and performed across the country and currently teaches summers at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina and the Stonybrook Music Festival in New York. Before coming to the UI, he held a faculty position at Ripon College in Wisconsin where he taught cello and bass, music theory and chamber music, and conducted the orchestra.

Nosikova, who joined the UI faculty in 1998, has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States Europe and South America. She presented two solo recitals in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1996 and 2001 and has been a guest soloist with symphony and wind orchestras in Colorado, Louisiana and Iowa.

In addition to international appearances in France, England, Brazil and Argentina, she has performed as a guest artist at several American universities, including the universities of Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. She received a return invitation to the Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago and concert series in England and Moscow for 2002-03 season.

Nosikova has presented master classes in England and both North and South America. The winner of several international competitions, she regularly serves the Ibla Grand Prize International Competition in Italy as a jury member. She has recorded several CDs, including a disk of chamber music works for viola and piano by early 20th-century English composers Rebecca Clarke, Arthur Bliss and Frank Bridge with her UI colleague Christine Rutledge.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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