Homage: The Art of Transcription and Imitation

"Originality is the art of concealing your sources." Attributed to Ben Franklin, this quote highlights a contradiction in one of the most common practices in music: the transcription. While drawing heavily (or entirely) from existing musical material, there is an expectation that the transcriber will leave his/her own mark on the work. How does one translate the timbre of one musical instrument to another? How mucy of the transcription is source material, and how much is new? What is the purpose of recomposing something already masterfully crafted? Come join Take5 as we explore these questions and more.


Happy Birthday: in the style of Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Concerto in d, BWV 974 (Marcello)

Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)

Paraphrase de Concert sur Rigoletto (Verdi)

Happy Birthday: in the style of Liszt

Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)

Isolde's Liebestod (Wagner)

Classical composers, Popular styles:

J. S. Bach: the Quodilobet, from Goldberg Variations

Happy Birthday: in the 12-tone style

Carl Vine (b. 1954)

Sonata no. 1, mvt. 2

George Gershwin (1898 - 1937)

Selections from "George Gershwin's Songbook"

I. Swanee
II. Who Cares? (So Long as You Care for Me)
III. Oh, Lady Be Good
IV. Fascinating Rhythm
V. That Certain Feeling
VI. Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)
VII. I've Got Rhythm

Happy Birthday: in the style of "Give me Jesus"

Astor Piazzola (1921 - 1992)



Dr. Alex McDonald and Dr. Jonathan Tsay, piano

The Hardest Pieces Ever Written

What compels us to stretch the limits of our own capability? With every generation records are shattered and what once seemed impossible becomes commonplace. Take5 explores the historical circumstances that created the need for such virtuosity, as well as how these master composers blended technical pyrotechnics with the artistic sophistication to create these revered (if not feared) works.


Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)

Etude Op. 25, No. 10

Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)

Tracendental Etude No. 12 "Chasse-Neige"

Dr. Alex McDonald, piano


Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)

Gaspard de la nuit: Trois poèmes pour piano d'après Aloysius Bertrand

I. Ondine
II. Le gibet
III. Scarbo

Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)

Trois mouvements de Petrouchka

I. Danse russe (Russian Dance)
II. Chez Pétrouchka (Petrushka's Room)
III. La semaine grasse (The Shrovetide Fair)

Dr. Alex McDonald, piano

Sonatas and Fantasies: Form vs. Freedom

Man has always strived to achieve a balance between a structured environment and the ability to choose his own path. In an abstract form such as music, how is form even conceived? Come join Take5 as we explore the origins of the most important forms to western classical music, the sonata-allegro form, and it's roots in the human desires of both familiarity and experimentation.


Christian Petzold (1677 - 1733)

Two Minuets

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)

Aria from Goldberg Variations

Prelude and Fugue in D Major, WTC II, no. 6

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Sonata in b minor, HOB XVI/32

I. Allegro moderato
II. Minuet
III. Finale: Presto

Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849)

Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49

Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)

Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata

Dr. Alex McDonald, piano

Beethoven Split: Cause and Crisis during the Romantic Era

Spring 2014

Although the Romantic Era of western classical music is often seen as an inevitable progression from the music of Haydn and Mozart, the actual evolution was rife with controversy. Johannes Brahms was the as the supreme classicist, adhering to traditional concepts of form and structure. Franz Liszt, the legendary virtuoso and composer, sought to stretch form and tonality to their breaking point. Both idolized Beethoven and cited his works as the root of their divergent paths.

Which camp was correct? Take5 tackles this engrossing topic by exploring Beethoven's own musical growth through several of his piano sonatas, and tracks their influence on representative works by both Brahms and Liszt. A performance of pieces by all three composers will follow.


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)

Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2 No. 1

I. Allegro

Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux"

I. Das Lebewohl (Adagio - Allegro)

Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111

I. Maestoso - Allegro con brio ed appassionato

Dr. Jonathan Tsay, piano


Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27 No. 2 "Moonlight"

I. Adagio sostenuto

II. Allegretto

III. Presto agitato

Dr. Alex McDonald, piano


Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)

Ballade op. 10: no. 1 in D minor "Edward"
Intermezzo in E major Op. 116, No.6
Rhapsody in E-flat major, Op. 119, No. 4

Dr. Jonathan Tsay, piano


Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)

Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata

Dr. Alex McDonald, piano