Cameron University professor Hyunsoon Whang will present “Beethoven Sonata Cycle 6,” the sixth in a series of piano recitals in which she performs select Beethoven sonatas. The recital is set for Thursday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the McCutcheon Recital Hall.
Seating is extremely limited; to reserve a ticket, call 580-581-2346 or purchase online at https://www.cameron.edu/art-music-and-theatre/events/buy-tickets.Tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for senior citizens, K-12 students and members of the military. Cameron students, faculty and staff are admitted at no charge with valid ID.
In September 2019, Whang set the goal of performing the entire cycle of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas, which are considered one of the most important collections of works in the history of music, over the next few years.
“I've built the program around the celebrated ‘Waldstein’ sonata,” Whang says. “I wanted to open with a short, less weighty sonata (No. 19), followed by a substantial four-movement work (No. 2), then finish with one of the most demanding piano works Beethoven wrote (No. 21).”
She will open this recital with Sonata No. 19 in G Minor, Op. 49 No. 1.
“We do not know much about the circumstances under which the two short, two-movement Sonatas Op. 49 1/2 were written,” Whang says. “Beethoven titled it ‘Leichte Sonate’ meaning ‘Easy Sonatas.’ Sonata No. 19 was composed around 1797. A melancholic, expressive Andante first movement is followed by a happy, dancelike rondo.”
Whang will then present Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 2 No. 2, a witty, sunny, and virtuosic youthful work written in 1795. About this piece, Whang says, “There are plenty of Haydnesque gestures such as unexpected pauses and harmonic surprises. Fittingly, the sonata was dedicated to Haydn with whom Beethoven had hoped to study in Vienna. The jovial mood permeates this work with the exception of the contemplative slow movement, Largo appassionato, and the fiery, Sturm und Drang minor key episode in the finale.”
The recital will conclude with Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53, known as the "Waldstein" Sonata, which is considered a revolutionary work in the history of piano sonatas with its scope, intensity and vastness. Written in 1803/4, the sonata was dedicated to one of Beethoven’s faithful patrons, Count Ferdinand von Waldstein.
“It seems to me that Beethoven had symphonic sound in mind, yet writing this work for the piano instead of orchestra meant pushing the limits of what piano could do as an instrument,” Whang says. “Perhaps Beethoven was defying the limits of his beloved instrument. Or the struggle was totally justified in order to make piano a ‘one-man orchestra’ with the new sonority.”
The Waldstein sonata is considered one of Beethoven’s most technically challenging piano sonatas. The first section of the rondo requires a simultaneous pedal trill, high melody and rapid left hand runs, and the coda features glissando octaves written in dialogue between the hands. It has three movements: Allegro con brio (in C major and common time), Introduzione: Adagio molto (in F major and compound duple time), and Rondo. Allegretto moderato — Prestissimo (in C major and duple time).
Korean American pianist Hyunsoon Whang is an active performer and a dedicated teacher. Whang has delighted audiences in hundreds of concerts across North America, Europe, Asia, Iceland and Australia. Critics have praised her as "the kind of player who appears to immerse her entire being in the music," and as one who has "always delivered with grace and beauty." Highlights of her last season included a performance of the complete Brahms Sonatas with violinist David Kim and the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Norwood Symphony Orchestra in South Australia. During the 2022-23 season, in addition to continuing her survey of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle, she will perform an all-Mozart program in Germany and appear as a guest artist to perform the first Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra. She also has been invited to perform on chamber music series in Utah, Kansas City, and Florida. Whang serves on the Touring Artists Roster of the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Artist Roster.
A passionate educator, Whang has taught and nurtured generations of students. Her students have won numerous state and national competitions, and garnered scholarships and fellowships from prestigious institutions. She regularly presents interactive recitals for public school children, fostering the love of music for young people. She spends summers teaching at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. She is a recipient of the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts in Education Award and a member of the Cameron University’s Faculty Hall of Fame.
Whang studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the St. Louis Conservatory, The Juilliard School, and earned a doctorate from Indiana University under the tutelage of the legendary pianist György Sebők. She is Professor of Piano at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma where she holds the McMahon Endowed Chair in Music.