Illya plays Beethoven's A-Flat Major sonata, Op. 110.
When I came to New York City as a starry-eyed 17 year-old with a questionable haircut, it was to enter into an entirely new world of music, people, and culture. This had happened once before, when I emigrated from Ukraine to Ohio- that was quite the culture shock, jarring and unfamiliar, uncomfortable. (The only words I had learned were ‘cat’ and ‘dog’, and neither of them could really be applied in everyday conversation.) Once I arrived in NYC, it was a different type of transition: one of discovery of self through the music I could produce.
Beethoven’s Sonata No. 31 Op. 110 is one of his latest Piano Sonatas, and a piece of music that you can never stop learning from. I played this in my first year at Juilliard, and it now encompasses for me the struggle to acquaint myself with adulthood in a new city. Thirteen years later, I’m still trying to understand all that complexity in this music, and still discovering new things in this vast city that is New York. There is something about Beethoven’s music that is so universal; it speaks to people in all ranges of life, and represents what makes us human. New York City could be described in the same vein- representing humans, with all our achievements and mistakes; where we are going, where we came from, how we exist in a given instant.
This first movement, Moderato cantabile molto espressivo, is not a driven movement. It feels, to me, not as a stroll, but something similar to a walk, with not much need for words. It’s like the feeling of walking out into an early morning, with the sun on your face and the air brisk, and each step you take in passing is a different view of a different moment. This video includes some of these ‘views’ taken from different points around the city.
In the past few years, we have not only traveled around the U.S. quite a bit, but started making a habit of filming the road from the car. In this way we’ve managed to capture a lot of the American landscape, in all its varieties. When John Adams wrote Road Movies, he writes that, while it is not a specifically programmatic piece, it does call to mind the ‘Great American Roadtrip’- namely, the road trip that we all end up doing, either piece-meal or in its entirety- the U.S.A., coast to coast. We strongly urge you to watch all three videos, one after the other (it’s about 15 min.,) as you will see the landscape change slowly. We make our way from NYC all the way to California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, with a brief respite in the darkness of the Second Movement, illuminated by the glow of headlights. Take a moment, and watch the WHOLE THING! Coast to coast is no light feat, and it's all captured here, for you, with some seriously awesome music. Enjoy!
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