Friday, May 7, 2021
May 7, 2021

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Vancouver Symphony Preview: Pair of double concertos spotlight violins, pianos

The Columbian
3 Photos
Lena Vozheiko-Wheaton
Lena Vozheiko-Wheaton Photo Gallery

If you experience double vision at the Vancouver Symphony’s concerts this weekend, then you’ll just have to close your eyes and enjoy the music. That’s because the orchestra is presenting two double concertos: one for two violins by Johann Sebastian Bach and the other for two pianists by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The symphony’s concertmaster, Eva Richey, and Oregon Symphony violinist Fumino Ando will be the featured artists for Bach’s “Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor,” which is also known as “Bach Double.” Richey has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and knows the concerto well. She grew up playing it for student recitals.

“The ‘Bach Double’ is a fun piece because the two soloists get to play off of each other and trade the melodies back and forth,” Richey said. “Bach is very diplomatic and divided the music pretty evenly. I’m playing the second violin part, but I get to start the first two movements of the piece.”

Richey said the most difficult thing about performing the piece is memorizing it. Some patterns repeat, but in a different way. “So you have to be on top of your game,” she said.

Ando, a native of Japan, has a bachelor’s degree from Toho Gakuen University of Music in Tokyo. She’s also earned an artist diploma from Southern Methodist University in Texas and a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. Since 2002, Ando has been a member of the Oregon Symphony’s violin section. Every summer she plays at the Chigiana Music Academy in Italy, and she recently joined Portland’s Arnica String Quartet.

Ando said the first movement and third movements of the piece require a lot of energy. “The second movement is slow and very beautiful. I love the piece and am really looking forward to playing it with the Vancouver Symphony.”

Also on the orchestra’s program is Mozart’s “Concerto No. 10 in E Flat Major for Two Pianos.” The featured soloists for this piece are Lena Vozheiko-Wheaton and Cinda Goold Redman, both of whom live in Vancouver. Redman’s degree is from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. She also teaches from a private studio in Vancouver.

“Mozart’s music is so transparent,” Redman said. “You can’t get away with anything. If you play a wrong note, everyone hears it. We are working hard at exchanging the phrases so that they are smooth. Everything must be balanced just right. Fortunately, we look at things the same way and collaborate really well.”

Vozheiko-Wheaton received a master’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy from a conservatory in Kyrgyzstan, which has since been renamed. She also earned a doctorate in piano performance, literature and chamber music from the Tchaikovsky Music Conservatory in Moscow. Vozheiko-Wheaton came to Vancouver in 1993 and, like Redman, also teaches.

“We’ve been working on the piece since late May,” Vozheiko-Wheaton said. “The music is very happy and playful for the most part, but the second movement has a melancholy feel to it.”

Redman and Vozheiko-Wheaton last appeared with the Vancouver Symphony in 2004, playing Charles-Camille Saint-Saens’ “The Carnival of the Animals” and Poulenc’s “Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra.” The duo gave successful performances at Musique à Beaumont, a two-piano institute in France’s Loire Valley this past summer and have been invited back to give more concerts this year.

“We can do one-piano, four-hands music, but we prefer music for two pianos,” added Redman. “With two pianos, you have your own space.”

The orchestra will conclude the concert with Antonín Dvorák’s “Seventh Symphony,” a four-movement work that is considered as one of his best. This symphony expresses the full range of the Romantic style, from turbulence to serenity.