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Program for Basma Edrees & Ava Nazar

Sunday, July 17, 2022 at 4 pm

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From Brahms to Piazzolla through Reza Vali

Basma Edrees, violin
Ava Nazar, piano


Reza Vali (b. 1952)
Love Drunk (from Folk Songs, Set No. 16B)

Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Sonata for piano and violin No. 2 in major, Op. 100
              Allegro amabile
              Andante tranquillo—Vivace—Andante—Vivace di più—Andante—Vivace
              Allegretto grazioso (quasi andante)

Reza Vali
Three Romantic Songs
              Adagio—Molto allegro
              Tango Johannes

Astor Piazzolla (1921–1992)
Le Grand Tango

About the music

Love Drunk (Folk Songs, Set No. 16B) was commissioned by Thomas Jones and completed in July 2014. This is the sixteenth set of an ongoing cycle of Persian folk songs that Reza Vali have been composing since 1978.

The work’s four songs (songs without words) reflect upon different aspects of love. In song No. 1, the lover is longing for a reunion with the beloved. Song No. 2 is a dialogue, across the dimensions, between the deceased beloved and the grieving lover. The song reflects upon the grief of separation– in this case, separation by death. The sensual and the spiritual aspects of love intersect in song No. 3.  The melodies of the third song are accompanied by quotes from the Christmas carol Silent Night, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. The final song No. 4 describes the intoxicating joy when the lovers meet.

Described by one of Brahms’s friends as “a caress”, the Sonata for piano and violin No. 2 in major, Op. 100  was written in the summer of 1886 in Switzerland and was premiered in Vienna on December 2nd of the same year by violinist Joseph Hellmesberger and Brahms himself at the piano. This sonata has been nicknamed the ‘Thun’ sonata, in reference to the Swiss town where it was written, the ‘Meistersinger’ sonata in reference to the first three notes of Walther’s Prize Song from Richard Wagner’s Der Meistersinger, but probably the most suitable label given to it was by the biographer Robert Schauffler and that is simply ‘Song’. This simple yet potent description acknowledges the work’s highly lyrical character and Brahms’s use of several of his own songs as thematic material for the work.

Three Romantic Songs is written for and dedicated to Reza Vali’s wife Nan. They both love Brahms and this piece is an homage to Brahms. The third song contains a “limping” tango (in 7/8 instead of 8/8) called Tango Johannes (imagine Brahms trying to dance tango with Clara Schumann!).

Premiered in New Orleans on April 24th 1990, Le Grand Tango is a 20 minute piece originally written for cello and piano. It was dedicated to the renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. “The work bears all Piazzolla’s hallmarks: tight construction, strong accents, harmonic tensions, rhythmic complexity and melodic inspiration.”-Maria Susana Azzi

About the musicians

Basma and Ava met at The Juilliard School while pursuing their Masters degree. They have been friends ever since collaborating on a multiple of performances including a highlight performance at the United Nations in New York. Trained in the Western Classical musical tradition and growing up in their respective Middle Eastern musical traditions, Egyptian violinist Basma Edrees and Iranian pianist Ava Nazar feature the rich aesthetics of both musical worlds and are passionate about expanding musical access across various communities. For more information about each individual artist, please visit their accounts below on social media:

Basma Edrees:

Ava Nazar:

Reza Vali was born in Ghazvin, Iran, in 1952. He began his music studies at the Conservatory of Music in Tehran. In 1972 he went to Austria and studied music education and composition at the Academy of Music in Vienna, and continued his studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving his Ph.D. in music theory and composition in 1985. Mr. Vali has been a faculty member of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 1988. He has received numerous honors and commissions, including the honor prize of the Austrian Ministry of Arts and Sciences, two Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships, commissions from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, as well as grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education. Vali’s orchestral compositions have been performed in the United States by the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Baltimore Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra 2001. His chamber works have received performances by Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Da Capo Chamber Players. His music has been performed in Europe, China, Chile, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Australia and is recorded on the Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, New Albion, MMC, Ambassador, Albany, and ABC Classics labels.

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