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Violin, piano duo to perform free recital

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Marjorie Janove, left, and Gerald Elias, Utah Symphony's associate concertmaster, will perform together.

Marjorie Janove, left, and Gerald Elias, Utah Symphony’s associate concertmaster, will perform together.

Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News

Despite all the teaching, conducting and composing he does, as well as the responsibilities that go with being the Utah Symphony's associate concertmaster, Gerald Elias nevertheless still manages to find the time to hold a yearly recital.

"It's my annual penance," he quipped.

Elias will be performing today at 3 p.m. in Westminster College's Vieve Gore Concert Hall. He said that this year's program will be different from his past recitals. "It has some different things to it," and both halves will be distinctive. "The first half is introspective and very atmospheric. The second will be brighter."

The recital will open with Mozart's Violin Sonata in E minor. Mozart wrote only a handful of sonatas in a minor key, making this one rather unique in his oeuvre. "It's very introspective and dark, Elias said. "It's maybe an unlikely way to begin a recital, but it sets the tone."

Paired with the Mozart is Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu's "Distance de fee." "It's a beautiful piece and goes well with the E minor Sonata," Elias said.

"Distance de fee" is an early work, written when Takemitsu was just on the brink of establishing himself as one of the most significant post-World War II composers. He was to go on to become Japan's pre-eminent musical thinker in the second half of the 20th century.

"There is a sense of impressionism about 'Distance de fee,' " Elias said, "but it has a 20th-century feel to it. It has a misty transparency that's typical of his music. I really love the piece."

Elias laments that Takemitsu's music is almost never performed today. "It's really unfortunate that his music isn't heard. It's the right antidote to all this minimalism that's being written today."

Pianist Marjorie Janove will accompany Elias at today's recital. She'll open the second half of the program with Gershwin's solo-piano arrangement of his "Rhapsody in Blue." "It's a sparkling kind of arrangement," Elias said. "You can almost hear the orchestra in the piano."

Also on the second half is Debussy's Violin Sonata. "It's a bubbly piece that's virtuosic for both the violin and piano," Elias said. "It offers good contrast, yet it sits well with the Gershwin."

There will be one other piece on the program, Elias' own "V'addoro Variations" for solo violin. The piece owes its existence to Elias' daughter Kate. "She's a senior at Middlebury College, where she's a dance major," he said. Part of her senior recital involves choreographing and dancing a piece. "So she 'commissioned' me to write something for her."

The Variations has its origin in Cleopatra's aria "V'addoro, pupille," from Handel's opera "Julius Caesar." "Kate was here last year when we (Utah Opera) did 'Julius Caesar,' " Elias said. "She went to one of the performances and just loved it."

Together, they decided that Elias should write a set of variations on the aria. "It's a love aria, and so the variations go through all the different aspects of love — from contentious to unifying, from dissonant to consonant."

Elias will travel to Middlebury College in Vermont in April to play the piece for his daughter's recital. "Keith (Lockhart, Utah Symphony conductor) gave me the week off from the symphony so I can go and play for her recital. I'm looking forward to that."

If you go

What: Gerald Elias, violin; Marjorie Janove, piano

Where: Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Westminster College

When: Today, 3 p.m.

How much: Free

Phone: 832-2457

E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com