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WATCH: Exclusive Performance By Nathan Carterette On IPR's Virtual Steinway Cafe

Watch IPR Classical's presentation of ‘Poets of the Piano-Heroes and Icons,’ a concert by Iowa City's Nathan Carterette.

Nathan Carterette performed "Poets of the Piano: Heroes and Icons" on IPR's Virtual Steinway Cafe Tuesday, Aug. 18 at noon.

Does Beethoven’s Bagatelle No. 25 in a minor by any other name sound so sweet?

08-17-20-nathan-carterette
Nathan Carterette

Despite the COVID-19 virus, IPR’s Virtual Steinway Café will be live at noon on Tuesday, August 18 on Facebook, YouTube and streaming at iowapublicradio.org. IPR’s Virtual Steinway Café will present the ‘Poets of the Piano-Heroes and Icons’ concert which includes Beethoven’s ever popular Für Elise.

Nathan Carterette created his ‘Heroes and Icons’ program exclusively for IPR’s Virtual Steinway Café concert. Nathan, acknowledged as an “exuberant yet sensitive,” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and a "wonderfully poetic" pianist (Westfalen Post), will make his premiere performance on IPR’s Virtual Steinway Café.

Carterette, who is known for his innovative ‘Poets of the Piano’ series, invents concerts built around an inspirational idea. By utilizing a descriptive-recital presentation, his unconventional ‘Poets’ programs weave a diverse musical palette into a remarkable collection of old and new masterpieces.

His opening subject for ‘Heroes and Icons’ explores the remarkable talents of musical prodigy and polymath, Canadian-American Black composer, choral conductor, concert pianist, professor, poet, and essayist Nathaniel Dett. Dett graduated from Oberlin, attended Harvard, received a masters from Eastman, and has an honorary doctorate from Howard University. He achieved his many accomplishments during America’s segregated and often violent Jim Crow years. Nathan delves into two of Dett’s Eight Bible Vignettes, ‘Father Abraham’ and ‘Martha Complained.’

"Poets of the Piano: Heroes and Icons" Program

Eight Bible Vignettes Nathaniel Dett (1882 – 1943)
I. Father Abraham
VI. Martha Complained

Tales Nikolai Medtner (1880 – 1951)
I. Ophelia’s Song, op.14 no.1
II. ‘Blow, Wind, and Crack Your Cheeks,’ from King Lear, op.35 no.4

Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet, op. 75 Sergei Prokofiev (1891 – 1953)
IV. The Young Juliet
VI. Montagues and Capulets (Dance of the Knights)
VII. Friar Laurence
VIII. Mercutio
X. Romeo and Juliet Before Parting

A Tribute to Beethoven
‘Eroica’ Variations, op.35 Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Für Elise

Nathan turns next to the works of the brilliant Nikokai Medtner. Medtner, dubbed early in the 20th century as one of the most important Russian concert pianists and composers, was called a visionary as well as old-fashioned. A contradictory composer, he was on one hand a disciple of the German music tradition and on the other, still believed in instilling the essence of Russian pathos into his works. Medtner was a man of exceptional intelligence, a friend and admirer of Rachmaninov, a follower of Beethoven, and an explorer of new harmonies and rhythms. Nathan will present two Medtner “Tales,” ‘Ophelia’s Song,’ Op. 14, No. 1, and from King Lear, Op. 35, No. 4, ‘Blow, Wind, and Crack Your Cheeks.’

The dance music of Russian conductor, pianist, composer, and 20th-century musical genius Sergei Prokofiev follows on Nathan’s ‘Poets of the Piano: Heroes and Icons’ concert. Known and revered for his ingenuity and innovation, Prokofiev composed symphonies, concerti, sonatas, film music, program pieces, and ballets. Prior to WWII and during Stalin’s Great Purge, he composed his ballet masterwork based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Prokofiev also transformed his famous ballet into three orchestral suites and the solo piano work, Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 75. Nathan will dive into five pieces from Prokofiev’s celebrated work: IV. The Young Juliet, VI. Montagues and Capulets (Dance of the Knights), VII. Friar Laurence, VIII. Mercutio, and X. Romeo and Juliet Before Parting.

Carterette will complete his IPR Virtual Steinway Café performance by performing two tributes to the 250th Birthday Anniversary of Beethoven. He will present Beethoven’s Variations and Fugue in E-flat, Op. 35 often called the ‘Eroica’ Variations. In this work, Beethoven extracted an earlier favored theme from his ballet “The Creatures of Prometheus.” He also used this melody in a set of contredanses and in the finale of his celebrated third symphony, his ‘Eroica’ symphony. Beethoven creates an unusual variation pattern by grabbing and stating the bass line from his favorite theme. He starts with three bass-line variations, finally presents the theme, and then runs his tune through a maze of 15 glorious variations. Musicologist Michael Steinberg said, ‘It’s Beethoven on a spring bank holiday Monday!’ The work closes with a dazzling fugue and a final restatement of Beethoven’s theme in the coda.

Nathan polishes off his ‘Poets of the Piano: Heroes and Icons’ concert with Beethoven’s well-known 1810 Bagatelle in a minor, WoO59, also known as Für Elise. Music historians speculate that Beethoven composed this work for one of two women he might have wanted to marry, or for a young talented student as a favor to one of those two women he might have married if she hadn’t wed another. The five-part rondo’s distinctive main section is adorned with the beautiful and chromatic six-note phrase followed by graceful arpeggios that are recognized and loved around the globe. Even Schroder from the Peanuts strip couldn’t resist the magnetic pull of Für Elise. Counterbalancing the core sections, Beethoven inserts two development segments chockfull of chordal contrasts and virtuosic runs. Beethoven’s Für Elise is an enchanting and beautifully unassuming conclusion to Nathan’s ‘Poets of the Piano: Heroes and Icons’ program.