Pianists stir the house with Hungarian dance music

Kseny Boklan

MASTER AT WORK (Shannon Patrick)

MASTER AT WORK (Shannon Patrick)

Saddleback College’s music department presented a piano duet of Hungarian composers.  A crowd gathered outside of McKinney Theatre on January 25 to watch the performance of Rebecca Rollins and Robert Sage.

The highlight of the recital was the “Hungarian Dances” composition by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). His work was presented through four books of Hungarian folk and gypsy inspired music. The performers split up the composition by inserting seven pieces of another Hungarian composer, Béla Bartók (1881-1945) from his “Mikrokosmos” masterpiece.

After the performance of Book One and Book Two, Rebecca Rollins informed the audience about the challenges Brahms faced with transforming gypsy and folk music into a piano piece. The composer transgressed the difficulty of imitating the violin, or the clicking of heels, masterfully.

Students welcomed Rollins’ explanation of Brahms’ influences. “It made me understand better what to expect for books two and three,” said Heather Whysocki, 21, music. “What I picture, it made more sense”.

Rollins found out that a large portion of the audience was familiar with the melodies imitated by Brahms, especially the F-sharp minor, Allegro piece from Book One. The first two books are piano imitations, while the latter two are original inspirations of Hungarian Folk Music.

The audience passionately applauded Rebecca Rollins and Robert Sage. “I enjoyed how there were so many melodies and how the tempos changed at such a fast pace,” said Marco Pares, 14, Capistrano Valley High School.

Rollins’ main pianist focus was “collaborative and interdisciplinary presentation of women composers”. Robert Sage is a professor of piano at Azusa Pacific University and commented on the performance. “It seems appropriate for the time,” said Sage. “It was done first semester to commemorate the centennial of the death of Joseph Haydn.”

Proceeds from this concert go towards maintenance of campus pianos and scholarships for Saddleback piano students. The duo-piano recital will be repeated, possibly with live Hungarian dancing, on Friday Jan. 30, at the Azusa Pacific University.