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Susan Merdinger | The Classical Style II

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Classical: Classical era Classical: Beethoven Moods: Featuring Piano
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The Classical Style II

by Susan Merdinger

The Classical Style II is the sequel to Steinway Artist Susan Merdinger's The Classical Style CD, featuring works by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Elegance, refinement, lyricism and virtuosity abound in these interpretations.
Genre: Classical: Classical era
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Keyboard Sonata in G Major, Hob.XVI:40: I. Allegretto innocente
Susan Merdinger
7:47 $0.99
2. Keyboard Sonata in G Major, Hob.XVI:40: II. Presto
Susan Merdinger
3:13 $0.99
3. Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in C Major, K. 521: I. Allegro
Susan Merdinger & Steven Greene
8:28 $1.99
4. Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in C Major, K. 521: II. Andante
Susan Merdinger & Steven Greene
6:27 $1.99
5. Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in C Major, K. 521: III. Allegretto
Susan Merdinger & Steven Greene
7:15 $1.99
6. Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-Flat Major, Op. 22: I. Allegro con brio
Susan Merdinger
7:53 $0.99
7. Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-Flat Major, Op. 22: II. Adagio con molta espressione
Susan Merdinger
8:36 $0.99
8. Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-Flat Major, Op. 22: III. Menuetto - Minore
Susan Merdinger
3:37 $0.99
9. Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-Flat Major, Op. 22: IV. Rondo. Allegretto
Susan Merdinger
6:14 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Classical Era is defined by the period from 1775 to 1825. It is represented in the music of composers such as Clementi, Boccherini, Salieri, Albrechtsberger, but mostly in the music of the famous "trio" of composers: Franz Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. "The Classical Style" also refers to an outstanding National Book Award-winning scholarly book by the pianist and historian Charles Rosen. It has been required reading for most college music history courses since its first publication in 1972. It focuses explicitly on Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, who developed the "Classical Style" to the highest level. Countless other scholars have written on the topic of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, attempting to analyze their musical styles and the impact of their lives on their creative output. Mozart's life was cut short at age 35, and Beethoven, though he lived a much longer life, was debilitated by profound deafness, the cause of which has been debated and scientifically investigated for years. Haydn lived the longest and was perhaps the most prolific- but to this day seems to fall in the shadow of the genius and overwhelming popularity of Mozart and Beethoven.
Most pianists and scholars acknowledge there is no single way to interpret repertoire of this period; it is obfuscated by the evolution and improvements of the musical instruments as well as the type of venues for which it was composed. Additionally, we cannot isolate ourselves from the external influences of more modern music of the Romantic and Impressionistic and even Contemporary eras. What we can say is that "The Classical Style" embodies refinement, elegance, restraint, formality, and tight organizational structure (in particular, the Sonata form), and mostly homophonic textures of melody and accompaniment. In contrast to the Baroque era, which was highly ornamental, complex in figuration and counterpoint and smaller in scope, devoted mainly to the music of the church, the favored genres of the Classical era were the solo sonatas, variations, chamber music. This new aesthetic in the Age of Enlightenment contributed to the development of more instrumental large ensemble works opera and symphonies, where music was intended to be a form of entertainment and destined for concert halls, instead of churches.
What truly distinguishes the Baroque from the Classical from the Romantic periods and can or should we even draw such fine lines? Schubert and Mendelssohn wrote some music that could be mistaken for "classical style" in terms of the texture of their music, which is much lighter than their "Romantic" counterparts who followed. Schubert and Mendelssohn were indeed more expansive in the use of harmony and chromaticism- but not necessarily more so than late Beethoven. And who could deny the ever-present counterpoint in the music of Beethoven? Music exists in a continuum, and flows from one generation to the next, sometimes returning and hearkening back to earlier styles, as in the Neo-Classical era of the 20th century (Prokofieff's Classical Symphony). Similarly, we can often find great dissonance in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach- even though his music existed hundreds of years before the 20th century "Modernists." Contemporary music isn't necessarily more dissonant, nor does it exist without consonance, either.
In Haydn's Sonata in G from 1784, the first movement is an extended form of variations- even though it is not explicitly labeled as such. They are not as profound as the variations we might hear in Beethoven's late Piano Sonatas, but effectively ornamental and expressive. The second and final movement is a short, lively Rondo- a form also popularized in many of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas and Mozart's 19 Piano Sonatas! In this and the following two sonatas, we especially hear the classical style two-note appoggiatura, by which composers of this era utilized dissonance and resolution for heightened expression.
The Mozart Sonata in C, K. 521 for One Piano, Four Hands, is one of six he wrote for piano duet- not including the famous Sonatas in D for Two Pianos. Mozart likely composed these sonatas with the intent of them being performed by amateur pianists. However, this particular piano-duo sonata contains all of the virtuosity one would expect from a prodigy pianist- and Mozart certainly does not discriminate between the Primo and Secondo parts. In three movements, this sonata has all the elements of his best piano concertos- and demonstrates his love of the Key of C major!
The slow movement is marked Andante- as most of Mozart's slow movements are- but the middle section becomes quite a bit faster and more intense, resembling in some respects the slow movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K. 466.
The last movement, a charming Allegretto, also possesses challenges to the performers in that the proximity of the part writing and closely linked passagework can be challenging to coordinate, and make it sound as one pianist! The opening theme seems quite matter-of-fact and straightforward. Nonetheless, drama ensues, with an operatic-like quality, dying down at the end and bursting forth with a proclamation of triumph in the final chords.
Beethoven's Sonata No. 11 Op. 22, in B-flat major was composed in 1800 and published two years later. It is considered to be the last of his early "grand sonatas," with its four movements as in his symphonies. The first movement is in a sonata form, with an opening motive which he expands upon and connects to a more lyrical theme. The slow movement is a lyrical song-like melody, with unusual harmonic modulations and two-note sighing phrases that bring out a certain pathos. The third movement, a Menuetto and Trio, also display two highly contrasting themes highlighting the major versus minor tonalities, and a lyrical theme versus a bravura style of writing in the Trio. The fourth movement Rondo opens with such calm and pleasantry but offers considerable "sturm and drang" in the alternating sections. Ending with a virtuosic Coda, just like Mozart K. 521, Beethoven allows the music to dissipate into a quiet and peaceful realm before ending with big bravura chords, which make it quite clear that we have arrived at the end!
Program Notes By Susan Merdinger, Highland Park, IL November 2019 ©️℗2019 SheridanMusicStudio

Steinway Artist Susan Merdinger has been acclaimed in prestigious newspapers and journals for her stunning performances and recordings. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described her recital as a “daring, enormously joyous presentation which captured and transfixed the audience”. Fanfare Magazine declared that her “Carnival” CD was “exquisitely detailed and full of life”, likening her playing to that of legendary pianists Leonard Bernstein and Martha Argerich. With programs such as Latin-American Flair, American Honor, The Classical Style, and The Virtuoso Pianist, Susan brings charm, eloquence and hair-raising virtuosity to the stage and studio. Merdinger is a Two-time First Prize Winner of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, Gold Medalist of the Global Music Awards, and Winner of the Dewar’s Young Artists Award in Music, the Artists International Young Musicians Competition, the Artists International Distinguished Alumni Winners Prize and The American Prize in Chamber Music. Her American Melting Pot CD won the Clouzine International Music Award for Best Classical Album and a Gold Medal in The Global Music Awards in 2019. Since performing her solo recital debut at Carnegie Recital Hall at the age of 24, Merdinger has continued to grace the stages of some of the world’s best concert halls and international music festivals including Merkin Concert Hall, The Scottish National Orchestra Center, Diligentia Hall, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Ravinia Bennet Gordon Hall, Logan Center for the Performing Arts and the Summit, Chautauqua, Norfolk and Fontainebleau Music Festivals. Her live performances and recordings have been broadcast on radio and television throughout the USA, Canada, and Europe. Susan has been a Guest Artist on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series, Live from WFMT, the Chicago Latino Music Festival, and has appeared as Guest Soloist with the Highland Park Strings, the Northbrook Symphony, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Ridgewood Symphony, the Rockland Symphony, the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra, the Lake County Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra Sinfónica del Estado de Mexico, The Westchester Symphony, the Tahoe Symphony Orchestra in Nevada and more. In the  2018-2019 season, Merdinger performed Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 in her second appearance with the Highland Park Strings and Brahms Piano Concerto No.2 with the Northbrook Symphony. In 2019-2020 she performs Beethoven's Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 5 in honor of the composer's 250th Birthday worldwide celebration. Merdinger received her formal education at Yale University, the Yale School of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music. She is an Artist Faculty of the Summit Music Festival in New York, and Artistic Director and Founder of Sheridan Music Studio, a record label, teaching studio and arts management comapny which represents her family ensemble The Five Greenes, Sheridan Solisti, and Pianissimo! - Chicago's Premiere Four Piano Ensemble.
Pianist Steven Greene served many years as the Organist for the Alpine Community Church and has presented organ recitals in Grace Church in New York City and through New York and Connecticut and Massachusetts. Trained as a violinist, pianist, and organist, Steve also was a member of the Amherst College Glee Club and toured the world with the ensemble as their accompanist. He now sings as a Tenor in the Mastersingers USA ensemble and is a sought-after accompanist to members of the CSO and Highland Park Strings and for several competitions and high schools in the Chicago area. The latest CD of the Merdinger-Greene Piano Duo won the Gold Medal in the 2014 Global Music Awards. The Duo recently won First Prize in the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition Professional Duo Category and made their Duo Debut in Carnegie Recital Hall in May 2017 performing works by Mozart, Faure, Brahms, and Saint-Saens. Mr. Greene earned degrees at Amherst College, Yale School of Music and Indiana University. He currently serves as the Music Director for the United Church of Christ in Deerfield and is a highly regarded accompanist on the North Shore.



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