ARTS: International performer fills TAMIU Recital Hall with music
By Carina Galvan
Bridge Staff Intern
Published Thursday, April 6, 2023
In a performance that featured a “Miracle” and “Fantasy,” TAMIU welcomed a guest pianist as part of its Master Performance Series.
On Saturday, March 4, Robert Satterlee performed at the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts. He began his performance with Scarlatti’s Sonatas in C Minor, K. 99, E Major, K. 135, and D Major, K. 29.
“The Scarlatti are very different from the other pieces,” Satterlee said. “So, I wanted something that [had] a totally different sound,” Satterlee said.
The second piece Satterlee played was Dietz’s “Miracle.” Christopher Dietz, Satterlee’s friend, composed this song during the COVID-19 pandemic for Satterlee.
“When he said he was going to write a piece for me, I thought I would get something … really difficult and really crazy,” Satterlee said.
To his surprise, this was not the case.
“[Dietz] himself was surprised,” he said. “It’s unlike any other piece he has ever written … I think it’s a very lyrical piece and really a very beautiful piece.
“Something personal happened to him,” Satterlee recalled of his friend’s experience that led to the piece. “He wouldn’t tell me what it was, but it had something to do with the pandemic and he considered it a miracle.”
Since Dietz wrote the song for him, Satterlee decided to play it for this performance.
Following “Miracle” was Scriabin’s Sonata No. 7, Op. 64.
“This piece is from [Scriabin’s] later periods, so it is, harmonically, very unusual,” Satterlee described the work. “The reason I played the Scriabin is because last year was the 150th anniversary of his birth … that piece is so hard that I wanted to play it more,” Satterlee said, followed by a laugh. “So that’s why the Scriabin was on there [the program].
“I really enjoy playing this piece. It’s not played very often, so it’s kind of fun to introduce it to audiences.”
After the intermission, Satterlee left the last half of his performance for Schumann’s “Fantasy” in C Major, Op. 17.
“The second half of my program is devoted to probably my favorite piece to perform,” Satterlee said. “It’s a piece that was written in a very difficult period of Schumann’s life.”
Satterlee explains that Schumann fell in love with the daughter of his piano instructor, Friedrich Weick. When she reciprocated his feelings, Weick did not allow them to marry.
“There was a legal battle for several years until they were finally able to get married in 1840, and this piece was written during that time,” Satterlee said. “The reason I love to play this piece is I feel like it’s a world unto itself. It has every emotion and every feeling.”
Although Satterlee’s programs usually have a theme, this one did not. Instead, he chose each piece carefully.
“We don’t respond equally to every piece,” he said. “There’s something about that piece that’s like a really good friend … that’s why I’m drawn to it.” Satterlee said he had not played Schumann’s “Fantasy” for a long time.
“I’ve had a wonderful time here at your campus,” Satterlee said. “It was very fun.”