posted January 31, 2011

Pianist Andrew Le to Present Faculty Recital on Feb. 10

 Andrew Le of the Hope College music faculty will present a piano recital on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The concert will feature works ranging from a follow-up to a 2008 audience-favorite, to a piece that resulted in a sprained thumb the last time Le intended to perform it.  The program will consist of selections from "Virtuoso Etudes on Gershwin Songs" ("Somebody Loves Me," "Embraceable You," "I Got Rhythm"), by Earl Wild; "Benediction of God in Solitude," by Franz Liszt; "Images, Book Two" ("The Bells Through the Leaves," "The Moon Descends Upon the Temple That Once Was," "Fish of Gold"), by Claude Debussy; and the original 1913 version of the "Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36," by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a healthy and non-perishable food item, all of which will be donated to the Holland Rescue Mission.

In discussing the reason for the food drive, Le noted that a study done in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that 35 million Americans, including 12 million children, live with hunger.  "And these figures are from 2006; after the economic crisis of October 2008, more Americans, including those who still have jobs, are turning to emergency agencies for help," Le said.

Suggested items include canned fruits and vegetables, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, pasta, flour, diapers, infant formula, baby wipes and baby foods.

Regarding the opening work by Wild, Le explained, "I played Earl Wild's concert transcription of Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" in a 2008 faculty recital, and it was so well-received that I felt I should program more of Wild's Gershwin transcriptions for this year's recital."

Le said that Liszt's "Benediction of God in Solitude" shows a side of the composer that most are not familiar with: poetic and religious.  Liszt lived a rock-star life filled with hundreds of concerts, innumerable women and licentiousness, but ultimately found peace in being ordained as a priest.  Le noted that "Benediction of God in Solitude" contains very little in the way of what is traditionally considered Lisztian virtuosity, but its poetic quietude and sublimity belies the immense technical difficulties that still challenge the performer.

Debussy composed two sets of Images, and Le will be presenting the second set.  The first piece of the set, "The Bells Through the Leaves," is said to have been inspired by the sounds of church bells being resonating through the French countryside between All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.  The middle piece, "The Moon Descends Upon the Temple That Once Was," evokes murky ruins in a foreign land.  Le described the final piece, "Fish of Gold," as a tour-de-force in both technique and tone painting.

After a short intermission, Le will present Rachmaninoff's "Second Piano Sonata in B-flat minor, Op. 36" in its original 1913 form.  Rachmaninoff revised the work in 1931, making it shorter, less dense, and somewhat more accessible, and the original version is rarely played.  The last time Le performed the Second Sonata - which he said is one of his favorite pieces of all time--was at his bachelor's degree recital, 12 years ago in 1999.  He had planned on performing it as a student at Juilliard in 2003, but unfortunately sprained his left-hand thumb practicing it.  So, the performance never happened, and he never wanted to touch the piece again.  However, he explained that the sheer power of the music proved irresistible, and he is deeply excited to be revisiting it for this upcoming recital.

In addition to presenting the musical selections, Le invites audience members to engage with him about the program.

"Last, but not least, audience members who have been to my recitals at Hope in the past have expressed an appreciation for my program notes, composed in the style of a self-interview.  I am pleased to say that I will be doing that again this year, but would also like to encourage the public to join in on the conversation," he said.  "If anyone has a question about the program or about the food donation to the Holland Rescue Mission, or anything else at all, feel free to ask (both before and after the recital) online on my Formspring, which can be found at http://www.formspring.me/drewle.  There is no need to register or submit any personal information whatsoever to ask questions; simply type it in and I will answer you soon!"

More information can be found online at Le's website, www.drewle.com.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.