The University of Rhode Island Music Department showcased the masterful musicianship of faculty members in a faculty recital on Sunday afternoon.
Cellist Theodore Mook, an adjunct professor of Cello and Ensemble, and pianist Manabu Takasawa, a music professor, have been colleagues and friends for about a year.
“I was appointed a year ago, and we met right away,” Mook said. “We decided then that we would do this. We planned what we were going to play and started rehearsing before the semester started.”
Mook and Takasawa performed three classical and classically-inspired pieces during the recital. The performance began with Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “Sonata No.4 in C Major, Op. 102 No.1.” This piece was one of Beethoven’s later works, and was written to be performed by piano and cello. The second piece was entitled “Le Grand Tango” by Astor Piazzolla, an Argentinean composer. These two pieces were roughly 15 minutes in length. The final piece, “Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65” by Frederic Chopin is a four-movement, 30-minute piece.
None of these pieces were completely new to the two performers. Both were either familiar with the pieces or had played them at some time in the past.
“Unless it’s brand new, most people have played the repertoire,” Mook explained. Â “I’ve played these a long time ago.”
Takasawa, a celebrated pianist, has performed all over the United States and Asia, including the Czech Embassy in Washington D.C. He is also the creator and organizer of the URI Piano Extravaganza!, an annual spring event that welcomes professional and amateur pianists to join in concerts and events.
Mook, a celebrated cellist, has taught all over New England and has performed globally. His recording credits include over 100 works. He has spent much of the past few years writing and performing microtonal music and is glad to have this return to classical style performance.
“Microtonal music is deliberately playing music that is right between the cracks, with alternate tuning systems,” Mook said. “For a long time, I played very contemporary music, so I didn’t do much in the way of traditional repertoire for maybe 15 or 20 years. Coming back here, I played some chamber music with local friends again.” Â Mook explained how Takasawa suggested the two set up the concert, and they “put everything on the table” and decided which pieces they should play.
Mixing classical music and modern technology, Takasawa used an iPad for his sheet music, with a footswitch to turn the page to avoid using his hands, and Mook played a 19th century Italian cello. In the process of preparing for this performance, the pair rehearsed about once a week.
“You know, it’s funny; the flow of energy in a concert from beginning to end is very different than in the number of rehearsals that you have,” Mook said. “You can never really figure out how to distribute your energy across the pieces until the performance.”
While no plans are immediate, Mook hopes that he and Takasawa will work together again in the near future. Â
The URI Music Department is hosting multiple performances every week and has a very busy schedule through the end of the semester. For more information about upcoming performances, visit http://web.uri.edu/music/event-calendar/.