While the repertoire focus in the Concerts at the Cadillac programs at the Cadillac Hotel in the Tenderloin has always been jazz, the series has frequently provided opportunities for other genres. While this site has consistently subscribed to the precept that jazz is chamber music by other means, it still tries to make a point of recognizing when the series takes more traditional approaches to keyboard music and chamber music. One of those approaches was taken a little less than a year ago with a solo piano recital by Joel Tepper, which presented a survey of three of the styles that held a special place in the repertoire that Frédéric Chopin built up in his efforts as a composer.
At the beginning of next month, Tepper will return to the lobby of the Cadillac Hotel and its Patricia Walkup Memorial Piano, a fully-restored 1884 Steinway Model D Concert Grand Piano. This time he will shift his attention from the first half of the nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth. The major work on the program will be Aaron Copland’s only piano sonata, composed in 1941. The piece, which usually takes a little more than twenty minutes, is in three movements. However, Copland departs from the traditional fast-slow-fast architecture and turns it on its head. The middle movement is a fast-paced Vivace, preceded by a Molto moderato movement and followed by a concluding Andante sostenuto. The Vivace movement is a scherzo in traditional ternary form with strong influences of jazz in the outer sections and a more relaxed trio.
Copland was one of many composers who learned to write “American music” through studies with the French teacher Nadia Boulanger at the French Music School for Americans at Fontainebleau. (Copland was, in fact, one of the first Americans to study with Boulanger there after the school opened.) Boulanger had been a disciple of Maurice Ravel, and she was a great admirer of the music of Claude Debussy. Thus, to set a context for his Copland performance, Tepper has chosen to begin his program with selections for two of Debussy’s piano suites, the 1905 Suite bergamasque and the 1908 Children’s Corner. It is very likely that Copland was aware of both of these compositions when he first made a commitment to the serious study and practice of music.
Tepper’s performance will take place in the lobby of the Cadillac Hotel (380 Eddy Street at the corner of Leavenworth Street) on Friday, March 3, at 12:30 p.m. His program should run for about one hour. Like all concerts in the series, it will be offered free of charge by the hotel as a gift to the people of the Tenderloin. The Cadillac calls itself “The House of Welcome Since 1907;” and all are definitely welcome to this free opportunity to enjoy classical keyboard music.