Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

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Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who catapulted to fame in 1981 after becoming the youngest violinist ever to win the Naumburg competition, is an intensely passionate and gutsy player. She can dig deep with her bow as well as play with a touchingly warm lyricism and delicacy--as she does on her 2000 crossover CD with Sergio and Odair Assad, the Brazilian-born guitar duo. Among the works the three will perform on this eclectic program is Bela Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances, a collection of six short pieces based on fiddle tunes he gathered from the regions around Hungary--the hypnotic, scratchy playing of harmonics in the Yugoslavian "Stamping Dance" contrasts with the luscious melody of "Horn Dance." Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera also used folk melodies, along with guitar-inspired motifs and a Stravinskian dissonance, to create his sensual, rhythmically charged music, including the three pieces in Danzas Argentinas, originally scored for solo piano. "Danza del viejo boyero" ("Dance of the Cowherd") is easygoing and slightly jazzy. "Danza de la moza donosa" ("Dance of the Graceful Maiden") is exquisitely sultry, with a soulful melody played over a strummed guitar base--suggesting a Latin nocturne even as it becomes increasingly dense and dissonant. And an Argentine melody emerges from the haze of notes, glissandi, and chords in the furiously fast, toccatalike "Danza del gaucho matrero" ("Dance of the Cunning Gauchos"). The trio will also perform Bach's Violin Sonata no. 3 in E Major, originally composed for clavier and violin. The first movement is a stately adagio, the second a sprightly, sunny fugue. The violin plays a languid and sorrowful lament in the weighty third movement, and the final movement is an exuberant fugue. Also on the program are Gypsy tunes arranged by Sergio Assad, works by Piazzolla, and film music written by Charlie Chaplin. Tue 3/29, 7:30 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, 847-467-4000 or 847-491-5441, $10-$30.

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