Live music will once again fill the halls of the Cameron University Theatre on Thursday when the university’s own Hyunsoon Whang performs “Beethoven Sonata Cycle 2,” the second in a series of piano recitals.
Whang, who has long professed a love for performing the music of Beethoven, presented three of the famed composer’s sonatas in the fall of 2019. She plans to perform the entire cycle of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas over the next several years. Together, the sonatas are considered one of the most important collections of works in the history of music.
She will open this recital with Sonata No. 6 in F Major, Op. 10 No. 2. Composed from 1796 to 1798, this composition was dedicated to Countess Anne Margarete von Browne.
“The F Major is an early work that is happy, sunny and almost Haydnesque — Beethoven in his unusually jovial mood,” Whang said. “It consists of Allegro first movement, a scherzo, then a fast, joyous finale.”
Whang will then present Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp Major, Op. 78, written in 1809 and known as “à Thérèse” because it was written for Countess Thérèse von Brunswick.
“The F-sharp Major has only two movements instead of the normal three or four,” Whang said. “The first movement is beautiful, lyrical and tender which is followed by an unexpectedly playful second movement. Beethoven was very fond of this Sonata, even more so than the ‘Moonlight.’”
“Moonlight Sonata” is Whang’s choice to conclude the recital. It was completed in 1801 and is one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions for piano. The name “Moonlight Sonata” is derived from a description by German music critic and poet Ludwig Rellstab. In 1832, five years after Beethoven’s death, Rellstab compared the first movement to that of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne.
“The celebrated ‘Moonlight’ Sonata begins with a mournful slow movement, then a momentarily sunny scherzo which brings us to the dark, fiery, breathtaking finale,” Whang said. “This being such a well-known work, I think people will enjoy the familiarity.”
Whang explained that she chose these three sonatas for variety, noting, ”They are so different in character, mood, and structure while being unmistakably ‘Beethoven.’”
After beginning her piano studies at the age of 4, Whang started playing public concerts at age 12. Since then, she has delighted audiences in hundreds of concerts across America, Europe and Asia. Critics have praised her as “the kind of player who appears to immerse her entire being in the music,” and as one who has “always delivered with grace and beauty.”
Whang has appeared as a soloist with distinguished conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Nicholas Harsanyi, Joel Revzen, Miriam Burns and Jon Kalbfleisch. A sought-after chamber musician, she frequently collaborates with premiere orchestras and string quartets. She recently recorded a solo album, “Chopin Nocturnes,” and a chamber music album, “Mozart, Schubert and Brahms.” A recipient of Oklahoma Governor’s Arts and Education Award, Whang serves on the Artist Roster of the Oklahoma Arts Council and Mid-America Arts Alliance.
Whang attended Seoul High School of Music and Arts, North Carolina School of the Arts, the St. Louis Conservatory of Music, The Juilliard School and Indiana University, where she earned a doctorate.
In 1993, she joined the Cameron University faculty, where she is the McMahon Endowed Chair in Music as well as a professor of music. She teaches Music Appreciation, Accompanying and Piano.