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Mark Valenti, Piano
November 22, 2022
Mark Valenti, Piano

Claude Debussy: Three Preludes, Bk. 11 (1912)

Joseph Haydn: Sonata in G Major, Hob. XVI-40 (1784)

Frederic Chopin: Three Etudes (1831-36)

Alexander Scriabin: Sonata No. 5, Op. 53 (1907)

Mark Valenti received his Master of Music from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Music from the Philadelphia Musical Academy. He has studied with such notable teachers as Benjamin Whitten, Zoltan Kocsis, and Mary Sauer. In addition to giving solo recitals in cities throughout the U.S., Mr. Valenti has performed in France, Belgium, Hungary, and Luxembourg as well as for former First Lady Barbara Bush in Washington, D.C.

Mark Valenti has performed in recital live on WFMT classical radio. He has also done extensive work in the Jazz field including performances with Gregory Hines, Frank Foster, and Al Grey and has appeared on television with Joe Sudler’s Swing Machine and singer/actor Christopher Durham.

Formerly a Professor of Music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Xavier University in Chicago, and the Loire Valley Music Institute in France, Mr. Valenti currently teaches at his studio in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago and is available for lessons for all levels and all styles.

PROGRAM NOTES

 It is easy to forget that Debussy titled each of his Preludes after its completion (…hence the parenthetic ellipses) for the music seems so inspired by its title. La cathédrale engloutie (The Engulfed Cathedral) alludes to the ancient Breton myth in which a cathedral, submerged underwater off the coast of the Island of Ys, rises up from the sea. Sprightly, fleeting figures and twinkling trills fill the atmosphere in Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses (Fairies are exquisite dancers). Finally, Debussy’s love of cakewalk rhythms and minstrel shows are on full display in his portrait of the American WW1 entertainer General Lavine – eccentric.

The Sonata in G major is a fine example of the wit, levity, and grace of Franz Joseph Haydn. This sonata, with its string trio-like texture, parts from the usual form by comprising only two movements and casting both in rondo variation form. The undulating rhythm of the first movement lays the foundation for its innocent elegance. In the second movement Presto, it’s off to the races as Haydn salutes us with numerous, humorous high notes.

With the publication of his first set of Etudes (studies), Frederic Chopin established the romantic virtuoso piano technique when he was just twenty-one years old. The ‘Cello’ etude, with the pianist’s left hand as the melodic voice, is one of the most poignant examples of romantic lyricism in the entire repertoire. The ‘Aeolian Harp’ exhibits swirls of wind-blown arpeggios while the ‘Revolutionary’, another etude for the left hand, is an impassioned proclamation of the Romantic aesthetic.

Of his 10 piano sonatas, Alexander Scriabin’s Sonata no. 5 remains a favorite amongst pianists and audiences alike. With highly contrasting themes, this sonata commences with a tumultuous introduction followed by a languid theme which segues to the principal theme, a presto toccata. The 2nd theme is one of pure lyrical romanticism. More toccata material leads to an ardent, impassioned closing theme. With each theme fully developed, and no shortage of Scriabin’s famous ‘mystic chord’, this sonata is abounding with ecstatic urgency and ethereal mysticism.

-MV