Frederick A. Schipizky

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
VSO@Home No.6

Date June 11, 2020 at 7:30pm | Pyatt Hall

Featured musicians Nicholas Wright - violin, Yi Zhou - violin, Grace Huang - piano, Greg Caisley - piano

Program Fritz Kreisler’s Variations on a Theme of Corelli; George Gershwin’s Prelude No. 2 in C Sharp Minor, Andante con moto; Frederick Schipizsky’s Duo Caprice; Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata in D Major for Violin and Piano and March from The Love for Three Oranges

Reviewer John Jane

This was the sixth streaming event in the VSO@Home series. The VSO generously offer this music performance format in order to allow audiences to see and hear selected musicians while regular public performances are restricted. This 33 minute live-streamed concert features pairings of violin and piano and has a distinct Russian theme. Okay, so Schipizsky, by his own admission, is only half Russian and Gershwin (born Jacob Bruskin Gershowitz) is second generation American of Russian-Jewish ancestry, but the influence is unmistakable.

The first piece in the program is an arrangement by Fritz Kreisler for violin of one of a set of Variations on a Theme of Corelli in the compositional style of Giuseppe Tartini. It’s been generally established that the theme was not actually written by the Italian Baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli, but rather is a traditional folk-dance melody originating from Iberia. Regardless of its origin, concertmaster Nicholas Wright, accompanied on piano by Grace Huang delivers an appropriately vigorous reading.

Next we hear VSO first violinist Yi Zhou’s impeccable treatment of Prelude No. 2 in C Sharp Minor - Andante con moto (transcribed by Jascha Heifetz). It’s the second of three preludes by Gershwin, this one in C-sharp minor. It certainly has also has Gershwin’s trademark jazz influenced melody lines that Ms. Zhou effectively demonstrates. Gershwin himself fittingly referred to the piece as "a blues lullaby."

Yi Zhou, together with pianist Greg Caisley, continues with recently retired double-bass player Frederick Schipizsky’s 2001 composition Duo Caprice. It’s a delightfully whimsical piece that the composer broadly describes as having the redolence of “a Russian being in Spain.” Mr. Schipizsky is a 40 year veteran with the VSO who has decided to retire mid-season.

The program ends with two pieces from Sergei Prokofiev, both performed by Nicholas Wright on violin and Grace Huang on piano. First, the somewhat breezy Sonata in D Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 94bis that Wright delivers with supple and expansive expression. Second, and the final piece in the program, is the March from The Love for Three Oranges – generally referred to simply as Three Oranges March. Only about a minute and a half in length, it’s likely the best known piece in the program. It comes from Prokofiev’s satirical opera of the same name. Prokofiev wrote the opera as an antidote to the rising popularity of verismo in opera in post revolutionary Soviet Union – a trend that promoted theatrical realism in art.

© 2020 John Jane