Late Masterpieces

posted in: News

When David Jalbert performs in the season-ending concert for the Valley Concert Society at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium on Friday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m., he will bring a program entitled Late Masterpieces.

Jalbert has chosen music by mature composers at the height of their powers, men who have distilled their craft through dogged labour, refined their artistic sensibilities, and were impelled by the urgency to speak to their world through their art.

J.S. Bach composed his Partita No. 1 in 1726. After a career which saw him work in various communities and for various churches and courts of the nobility, Bach had settled down in Leipzig in the position at the St. Thomas Church that he would hold for the rest of his life.

The six-movement format, comprised of a prelude and five dances, followed an outline that he had already used extensively. By the time he started work on his partitas, Bach had composed six English suites, six French suites, and six suites for solo cello, each with a similar format. Partita No. 1 is much grander and more technically challenging than these earlier works.

Jalbert will perform three works by Frédéric Chopin, a polonaise, a waltz, and a barcarolle. The polonaise, a Polish dance, was the earliest of these pieces. The waltz was composed in 1847, a mere two years before the composer’s death. The barcarolle, created in 1845, was one of Chopin’s favourites. He performed it often including at the last public performance he gave.

Sergei Prokofiev’s life can be divided into three periods. Jalbert will open the second half with a March, the one exception to the theme of late masterpieces. He composed this tiny gem of less than two minutes’ duration during his Russian period while a student in St. Petersburg.

After his American period, Prokofiev made the fateful decision to return to his home country, assuming that he was now famous enough to escape Stalin’s fearsome scrutiny. Thus began his Soviet period and the dashing of that naïve optimism. Ironically, Prokofiev died in 1953 on the same day that Stalin died.

Prokofiev began work in 1939 on his Piano Sonatas No. 6, 7, and 8, known collectively as his “War Sonatas.” He worked on them off and on until they were complete when the brilliant Russian pianist Emil Gilels performed No. 8 on December 30, 1944.

Sonata No. 8, the one with which David Jalbert will conclude Friday’s performance, is not only considered the greatest of his sonatas, but one of the greatest of all Prokofiev’s works. It is longer, richer, and more lyrical than the others.

David Jalbert has embarked on a three-volume recording project featuring Prokofiev’s piano sonatas. His recent Juno nomination was for Volume 1 in the series. The March which will open the second half is included on that CD. We await the other two volumes, one of which will have Sonata No. 8.

This brilliant music will be performed on a Steinway Piano, thanks to the generous contribution of Tom Lee Music.

Tickets for this program are available online at  at $32 for adults and $20 for students. For more information, call 604-289-3377.

I look forward to seeing you at the concert.

John Wiebe - President
The Valley Concert Society