Tyler Wottrich concert
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28
Where: Gloria Shott Performance Hall, Nix Fine Arts Center, University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega
More info: ung.edu
Two exceptionally difficult sonatas — Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Sonate fur das Hammerklavier Op. 106” and Henri Dutilleux’s Piano Sonata Op. 1 — will resound off the walls as seasoned pianist Tyler Wottrich performs.
The free concert will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in the Gloria Shott Performance Hall in the Nix Fine Arts Center at the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega.
Wottrich frequently performs at UNG for students and other spectators because of his close professional relationship with Benjamin Schoening, a music professor at the university. The two performers have collaborated together on many occasions and have organized performances and projects in the United States and Europe.
Recently Wottrich wrote to The Times and spoke of the nature of the pieces he will perform and discussed some songs within his repertoire of which he is most fond.
Question: How would you describe the moods of the two pieces, and what drew you to them?
Answer: I was drawn to these works because of their great expressive power, scope and difficulty. I’ve always loved a challenge. The Beethoven Op. 106 is commonly regarded not only as the largest and most difficult of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, but indeed one of the most difficult works in the entire piano repertoire. With average performances of the sonata taking between 40 and 45 minutes, it stands at 50 percent longer than any other Beethoven piano sonata … The Dutilleux Sonata, about half as long as the Beethoven, poses considerably different challenges. Written in 1948, the piece draws on a very French sense of magic and drama while breaking new harmonic and musical ground. Some audiences may find that they find the Dutilleux to be less accessible than the Beethoven, but a better way of looking at it is that this music simply asks the listener to be willing to briefly leave the realm of the normal world in favor of more fantastical universes.
Q: How does the difficulty of each piece compare to some other works you’ve performed? What do you consider the most strenuous components of each piece?
A: (On Beethoven’s Hammerklavier) The piece contains brutal technical difficulties: the first movement has a famously fast tempo marking and features many death-defying leaps and other pianistic challenges. The sonata also poses expressive challenges: the substantial slow movement demands a huge imaginative range from the pianist; the great German music critic Paul Bekker said of the third movement: “(it is) the apotheosis of pain, of that deep sorrow for which there is no remedy, and which finds expression not in passionate outpourings, but in the immeasurable stillness of utter woe.” The final movement of the sonata then erupts out of those expressive depths into euphoria with one of those energetic and unconstrained fugues that forms a hallmark of Beethoven’s late period.
(On Dutilleux’s Op. 1) There are certainly difficulties in terms of some very virtuosic writing in the 3 movements of the sonata, but the piece poses more challenges to the pianist in terms of coloring the different musical worlds that Dutilleux passes through.
Q: What would you consider your favorite piece of piano literature to perform? If necessary you can make a distinction between lyrical and technical pieces, as well as solo and group pieces.
A: I don’t like to make the distinction between lyrical and technical pieces, as I find that most works combine aspects of both categories, and that music in general aspires to greater qualities than either lyricism or virtuoso flash. The music that I enjoy most performing is music that communicates something worth hearing with integrity. Some personal favorite composers for me are (Franz) Schubert, (Sergei) Prokofiev and (Claude) Debussy, though I love many composers and which one I favor depends on the day and my mood.
Q: What is the purpose of your recital at UNG? Is it meant to be educational, for personal pleasure or for general entertainment?
A: It should be entertaining. It should be in some way educational. It will certainly give me pleasure to perform, and it should lift people out of their ordinary lives and change their view on life.