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Jonah Kim, Cello and Jeffrey Sykes, Piano
November 21, 2021
Jonah Kim, Cello and Jeffrey Sykes, Piano

From the Archives



7 Variations On ‘Bei Männern Welche Liebe Fühlen’ From Mozart’S “Die Zauberflöte” Woo 46

Sonata No. 1 for Piano and Cello in F Major, Op. 5, No. 1

Sonata No. 2 for Piano and Cello in G Minor, Op. 5, No. 2

250th Anniversary of His Birth

German Composer of the Classical Era

Beethoven’s five sonatas for cello and piano are seminal cornerstones of solo cello repertory. Like fingers of the hand, their pairings align easily into three groups or periods that delineate Beethoven’s creative output: early period (Sonatas Opus 5, No. 1 and 2 featured on today’s online Noontime Concerts video), late period (Sonatas Opus 102, No. 4 and 5) and middle period (Sonata Opus 69, No. 3). The first two sonatas of the early period were written by 26-year-old Beethoven in anticipation of a lengthy concert tour that included an opportunity to present himself at the court of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II, a passionate music lover and gifted amateur cellist. Virtuoso pianist Beethoven probably premiered the sonatas himself with the cello part performed by Friedrich’s Parisian court teacher. Upon return from his concert tours, Beethoven published the two sonatas appropriately dedicated to the Prussian monarch.

Sonatas No. 1 and 2 are strikingly similar and innovative. Instead of the typical classical arrangement of sonatas in three or four movements, these works contain only two movements with the first movements preceded by highly expressive and extended slow (adagio) introductions and followed by cheerful and impassioned fast movements (allegro). In these sonatas, Beethoven seeks to establish parity between both instruments and employs many individual technical features that define and exalt each instrument.

Today’s performance begins with a set of variations for cello and piano which also belong to Beethoven’s early period. The theme of the seven variations comes from a duet in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute about the happiness of the union of two lovers  The title can be freely translated, “The man who feels love’s deep emotion shall always have a kindly heart.”

Take the Beethoven Trivia Quiz

Which of the following statements indicates that Beethoven is a hero not only in his time but also in ours.  He:

1) loved mac and cheese

2) wrote five amazing sonatas for cello and piano which fall in the three periods of Beethoven’s creative

output: early (sonatas 1 and 2); middle (sonata 3); and late (sonatas 4 and 5)

3) espoused principles of democracy and humanism emergent in the early 19th century

4) elevated the role of the artist in society and circulated among nobility and aristocracy as an equal

5) created his most sublime works stone-deaf

6) dealt with and transcended personal infirmity through spiritual transcendence as we are called to do

in our own time of global health crisis


Scroll down for the answer

–Carl Blake

Grammy-winning artist Jonah Kim made his solo debut with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2003. The same year, he also appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra where the Washington Post music critic Joseph McLellan called him simply, “the next Yo-Yo Ma.” Mr. Kim has soloed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Atlantic Classical Orchestra, New Philharmonia, Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional, Orchestra Filarmonica, Symphony of the Americas, and many others. He has played in prestigious venues such as New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, California’s Montalvo Arts Center, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Kravis Center in Palm Beach, the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, the Phillips Collection and the John F. Kennedy Center in D.C. where Anne Midgette of the Washington Post praised, “he flirted with the line, shaped it, wrapped it around his fingers, pulled it out in a new dimension, all with practiced ease.”

Highly sought after internationally also as a chamber musician, Mr. Kim is a founding member of the “hip, unstuffy, and malleable group” Ensemble San Francisco. He frequents festivals like the Atlantic Music Festival, Bari International Music Festival, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Chamber Music Silicon Valley, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Music in May Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo’s Festival Mozaic. As a fellow at the Curtis Institute, he formed a piano trio with Joel Link, currently first violinist of the award-winning Dover Quartet, and international piano sensation Yuja Wang. Coached by some of the leading musicians of their day, they explored the piano trio literature extensively. Since then, Mr. Kim has collaborated with world-class artists on four continents, sharing the stage with Cho-Liang Lin, Elmar Oliveira, Jon Nakamatsu, Martin Beaver, Chee-Yun Kim, and Romie de Guise-Langlois in recent seasons. In a review of his performance at Alliance Français, San Francisco Classical Voice critic David Bratman exclaimed, “this was an excellent performance, the best I’ve heard of this piece.”

Born in Seoul, Korea, Mr. Kim immigrated to the United States in 1995. His father possessed a keen ear for music despite no formal musical training and introduced him to the cello through VHS tapes of Pablo Casals playing the Bach’s Solo Cello Suites. Learning by imitation, the seven-year-old was awarded a full scholarship to the Juilliard School within the year. So began his professional training at Juilliard, but it was not until he met world-renowned soloist and pedagogue Janos Starker the following summer that he became certain music was his calling. Attending a New York City public school, learning to speak English, and adjusting to life in the United States was not always easy. Starker’s invitation to come study with him was pivotal, inspiring the young cellist to continue with renewed motivation. Starker later remarked, “Jonah is an exceptional talent. He is at the top of his generation.”

Acclaimed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “a commanding solo player, the most supportive of accompanists, and a leader in chamber music,” pianist Jeffrey Sykes has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Western Europe. The San Francisco Examiner praised his appearance with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players as “a tour-de-force performance [that was] the evening’s major delight.”

Recent activities include a Carnegie Hall recital with flutist Stephanie Jutt under the auspices of the Pro Musicis Foundation and a live broadcast over WGBH, Boston Public Radio. His performances have been frequently broadcast over National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and he has a discography including eleven CDs published by various labels. Together with Ms. Jutt, Dr. Sykes is the founder and artistic director of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society of Wisconsin, a highly-acclaimed and innovative chamber music festival now in its seventeenth season. The festival is noted for integrating dance, drama, and visual art into the concert setting and creating an approach to chamber music that makes it more easily accessible to audiences. He is a regular guest artist in the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio and a founding member of the Painted Sky Festival in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 2007, Dr. Sykes served as the guest artistic director of Music in the Vineyards, a chamber music festival in Napa Valley, California. This year, Dr. Sykes has joined with violinist Axel Strauss and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau to form the San Francisco Piano Trio. For the last ten years, Dr. Sykes has served as the Music Director of Opera for the Young, a professional opera company that gives more than 200 fully-staged performances a year to schoolchildren throughout the upper Midwest. He works extensively as a vocal coach throughout the United States.

Dr. Sykes joined the faculty of California State University, East Bay in the fall of 2008 where he coaches, accompanies, and directs the piano accompanying class. Dr. Sykes holds degrees with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden-bei-Wien, Austria. He continued his studies in musicology at the University of Pennsylvania as a William Penn Fellowship recipient and then was a Fulbright scholar at the Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. A recipient of the Jacob Javits Fellowship from the United States Department of Education, he completed his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Trivia Quiz Answer is

No. 7 — All of the Above