Rachmaninoff: Trio élégiaque in D minor, Opus 9

A young Sergei Rachmaninoff

I’ve mentioned KING FM several times in previous posts, and my indebtedness to Seattle’s classical music station continues to grow.  Today marks the second time I’ve presented music on this blog that I was introduced to by KING FM.  I heard this trio by Rachmaninoff last week while driving in my car late one night.  I was captivated by it immediately, and knew right away that I wanted to feature it here.  Long after I reached my destination, I was still sitting quietly, absorbed in Rachmaninoff’s passionate music.  (You too can listen to KING FM, no matter where in the world you are.  Just go to www.king.org.)

Next day after a lengthy search, I found a breathtaking performance of this trio by pianist Bruno Robilliard, violinist Giovanni Radivo, and cellist Edouard Sapey-Triomphe, in a recording of exceptional video and sound quality.

The following notes were written by Dr. Alyson McLamore, Professor of Music at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who kindly agreed to let me reproduce them here.

The twenty-year-old Sergei Rachmaninoff must have felt on top of the world: he had been named to the Moscow Conservatory’s Roll of Honor and had been awarded the Great Gold Medal (being only the third student to receive that prize); he had already signed a publishing contract; and new music was almost pouring out of him. In late September, he attended a gathering in Moscow with other musicians to get a ‘sneak preview’ of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, the famous Pathétique, which was to have its public premiere in St. Petersburg the next month.  Before the evening ended, Rachmaninoff was able to present a keyboard version of his own new tone poem, The Rock—and he was enormously flattered by Tchaikovsky’s reaction: the older composer asked if he might include The Rock on an upcoming concert tour.

Scarcely a month later, Rachmaninoff got shocking news: just days after the Pathétique’s premiere, Tchaikovsky had succumbed to a cholera epidemic.  Rachmaninoff had missed the premiere because he had been conducting his new opera Aleko in Kiev—an opera that had already enjoyed a prestigious Bolshoi performance, thanks in part to Tchaikovsky’s support.  Almost beside himself with grief, Rachmaninoff sat down that very evening and started work on a memorial piece—the Trio élégiaque No. 2.

Tchaikovsky cast his shadow over the trio in several ways.  Scarcely a decade earlier, Tchaikovsky had written a memorial trio himself (for Nikolai Rubinstein).  His second movement was a set of variations, and Rachmaninoff followed that same approach.  Moreover, both works carried the same dedication: ‘To the Memory of a Great Man.’  Nevertheless, the later trio is very much a product of Rachmaninoff, with its demanding, virtuosic piano part and its harsh, powerful outpouring of grief.  It took Rachmaninoff almost two months to complete the score, and he told a friend, ‘While working on it, all my thoughts feelings, powers belonged to it, to this threnody…I trembled for every phrase, [and] sometimes crossed out everything and started over again to think, to think.’  The premiere took place the following February, and the trio clearly had lasting importance to Rachmaninoff, for he revised it in 1907 and yet again in 1917.

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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Concert Review: Pianist Valentina Lisitsa Returns to George Fox University

Valentina Lisitsa

The internationally acclaimed Ukrainian-American pianist Valentina Lisitsa returned to George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon on Friday, September 30 to give her second recital at Bauman Auditorium this year.  She opened her program with five pieces by Rachmaninoff: the Etude Tableaux, Op. 39 No. 6 (“Little Red Riding Hood”) and four preludes.  In all of these pieces, Miss Lisitsa demonstrated an astonishing assurance and technical command, together with a gorgeous singing line and exceptional delicacy.  She has an unmistakable affinity for Rachmaninoff, and is the ideal interpreter of his music.

This was followed by Beethoven’s Sonata in F minor, Op. 57, the justly famous “Appassionata”.  One of Beethoven’s best-known sonatas, the Appassionata is a work of sharply contrasting moods.  Full of Sturm und Drang, it also has its light-hearted and noble moments.  Throughout the shifting moods, Valentina put every musical idea into proper perspective, and overlooked nothing.  She succeeded beautifully in unifying the disparate elements of this work into a coherent and compelling whole.

Following the intermission, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, Miss Lisitsa played no fewer than 16 of the Polish master’s works: three waltzes, six etudes, and seven nocturnes.  The “Black Key” etude never sounded more effervescent, while Op. 10 No. 12 sounded more revolutionary than ever.  Her renditions of the “Winter Wind” etude and Op. 25 No. 12 were perhaps the best performances of those two pieces I’ve ever heard.

For me, however, the high point of Miss Lisitsa’s Chopin lay in the seven nocturnes.  The uniqueness of Chopin’s voice is nowhere more striking than in his nocturnes.  From one to the next, as well as within a given nocturne, they are full of changing moods.  Op. 27 No. 1 at one point sounded unmistakably like a polonaise, while Op. 9 No. 2 was distinctly waltz-like.  Miss Lisitsa’s performance of this nocturne so completely captivated the audience that, at its conclusion, no one wanted to break the spell of the music by applauding.  Miss Lisitsa let the final chord fade away into utter silence, but not until she was about to begin the Liszt rhapsody that followed did anyone dare to clap.

The Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 with which Miss Lisitsa concluded her program has been sending audiences home in a state of happy excitement for more than a century and a half, and it didn’t fail in its purpose this night.  Valentina certainly made that piano thunder!  My only hope is that the memory of the Liszt rhapsody didn’t make people forget the Chopin nocturnes.

If you love the piano, and have the chance to hear Valentina Lisitsa, you must not let the opportunity pass you by.  Everything she does has been carefully considered; there are no careless passages.  In everything she plays, she keeps in mind the big picture.  “Her keyboard technique is preposterously complete,” wrote a reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  This is certainly true, but what is more important is that Valentina always searches out how to put her technique at the service of the music she plays.  It is this quality that makes her such an important and unforgettable artist.

Derrick Robinson

Published in: on October 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm  Comments (5)  
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Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonata No. 1 Pianist – Valentina Lisitsa

I recently received a thoughtful email from a friend of mine, Elizabeth Middleton.  A pianist and composer with eight CD’s of her own music to her credit, Elizabeth wrote in part:

I am beginning to wonder whether there is so much mediocre or just plain bad music being created that people’s ability to hear is being corrupted.  It’s so sad that music education has gone by the wayside in public schools and that most classical radio stations have disappeared.  Yet, with YouTube, MySpace music profiles, Rhapsody, iTunes and other websites, there are numerous ways for people to discover and listen to good music, of different genres, on the internet.

Sergei Rachmaninoff

This video, and the one that follows, are striking examples of the great discoveries that can be found on two of the venues mentioned by Elizabeth: YouTube and classical radio.  I had never heard of Valentina Lisitsa before I discovered her on YouTube, and had never heard Rachmaninoff’s first piano sonata until I watched this video.

The first sonata is more expansive than the second, and more romantic in character.  When I first heard it, I was struck at once by its scope and power, as well as its technical demands.  I was also overjoyed to find that, even after 45 years of listening to Rachmaninoff’s music, there are still new masterpieces to discover.

This recording was made in December 2009 in Hanover, Germany.

Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 7:14 am  Comments (3)  
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Valentina Lisitsa: Four Encores

After thrilling to her brilliant performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto, the audience in Seoul was in no mood to let Valentina Lisitsa leave the stage.  They called her back for no less than four encores, each of which reveals a different aspect of her artistry.  Her first encore was by Franz Liszt, who was himself an admirer of Grieg’s concerto.

“La Campanella”                        by Franz Liszt

“La Campanella” (“The Little Bell”) is the third of six “Grandes Etudes de Paganini” by Liszt, all of which are based on compositions by the great 19th-century Italian violinist and composer Nicolo Paganini, and all of which are notoriously hard to play.  This kind of knuckle-busting difficulty is Valentina Lisitsa’s bread and butter, but as we will see in a moment, she can also play with exquisite sweetness.

“Traumerei” by Robert Schumann

“Traumerei” means “Dreaming”, and this piece is as different as possible from the virtuoso showpieces that Valentina Lisitsa is known for.  She plays it beautifully, and it was this performance more than any other that convinced me of her artistry.

Vladimir Horowitz, for whom “Traumerei” was a signature piece, once related the following incident as a gentle reminder to anyone who might think that slow, lyrical music is easy to play.  A young virtuoso once came to the famous piano class of Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna, and upon being asked to play, stunned everyone with a phenomenal display of virtuosity.  The most difficult music seemed to flow effortlessly from his fingers.  He kept this up for quite some time without as much as a drop of perspiration on his brow.  When he had finished this astonishing performance, someone wistfully asked that he play a simple piece by Schumann, such as “Traumerei”.  Obligingly, the young virtuoso complied, and after four bars he was perspiring profusely!

Prelude in G minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff

The attentive reader may recall that this prelude was featured on this blog in September in a memorable performance by Emil Gilels.  It is unmistakably Russian in character, and very majestic.

“Fur Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven

Valentina’s fourth and final encore was Beethoven’s well-known “Fur Elise”.  You will hear some surprised laughter as she begins to play, as the audience was undoubtedly expecting one of her trademark virtuoso encores, not a student recital piece.  What they got instead was a thoughtful, poignant rendering of this hackneyed Bagatelle, one that demonstrates just how beautiful it can be when played by a true artist.

You can learn more about Valentina at her website: valentinalisitsa.com, and will find many more examples of her playing at her YouTube channel: youtube.com/valentinalisitsa.

My Interview with Lola Astanova

“Everything (Horowitz) did had his own individual and unmistakable stamp, which is not only desirable, but is an absolute must for an artist.”

lola astanovaThis interview had its beginnings in an email that I received last month from Lola Astanova, as one of many who registered at her website, lolaastanova.com.  The email introduced a video of Lola playing Chopin’s magnificent étude Op. 25 No. 12, together with a short message from Lola about supporting the arts during difficult economic times.  I was crazy about her Chopin, and shared her conviction about the arts, and wrote back to tell her so.

A few days later I received another email, thanking me for introducing Lola to readers of this blog through her videos of Rachmaninoff’s second sonata, and pointing out that the year of her birth as given in my comments (1981) made her a little older than she really is.  I did a little more research and found a different source that listed her year of birth as 1982, and updated my blog accordingly.  I also wrote back to suggest an interview with Lola that would address this and other questions that I thought would be of interest to her growing number of fans and admirers.  I was happily surprised to receive – just two days later – an invitation to submit my questions via email for Lola to answer in writing.

What follows are my questions and Lola’s responses.  My thanks to Natalie, Lola’s personal assistant, for facilitating this interview, and especially to Lola herself, not only for her candid, illuminating answers, but for sharing so generously of her work and talent through her many YouTube videos.  Lola, you have opened wide the treasure chest of great music for many who might otherwise never have known the riches that lie within.

All right, let’s begin!

DERRICK:  I apologize for having misstated the year of your birth on my blog.  In my desire to make you better known to my readers, I had to choose among unreliable sources for some information.  Would you like to tell us your correct birthday?

LOLA:  I never intended to hide my correct date of birth…I think it was, probably, accidentally left out from my original online bio.  But by now it’s become such a huge deal that I feel like having some fun with it and keeping everyone guessing. (Smiles)

DERRICK:  Would you mind filling in a few more biographical details?  I know that you were born in Tashkent.  Would you like to share any information about your family and early life?  Did your musical education begin at home?

LOLA:  Sure.  My mother is a music teacher.  We had an old upright at home so she used to play it from time to time, and I used to stare at her and think: “It would be so nice to play that thing!”  But it was actually my dad who convinced her to get me started with piano lessons.  He really wanted me to learn “Fur Elise” and a few other tunes to play for him after work.  I’m sure he never imagined that music would become my career.

DERRICK:  Do you remember how you were introduced to classical music, and the first piece of classical music that you were excited about?

LOLA:   I guess the first piece that I was consciously truly excited about learning was Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu”.  I was about ten years old, but I had heard and loved that piece from the early childhood.  The score looked very busy with lots of notes so in my mind playing it well somehow symbolized being a good pianist.

DERRICK:  We know that you began to study piano at the age of six with Professor Tamara Popovich.  When and where was your first solo recital?  Do you remember the details of your program?

LOLA:  My first recital was in my school.  I think I was about seven and played most of the pieces from Schumann’s album for the young Op. 68.

DERRICK:  When and where was your first performance with orchestra?  What piece did you play?

LOLA:  It was Bach’s Concerto No. 5 in F Minor.  I was 8 years old and played in the big and beautiful concert hall called “Bakhor” in Tashkent.   I had seen Ashkenazy play on that stage only a few months earlier so being on that same stage for the first time as a soloist made me very nervous.

DERRICK:  What is your personal situation?  Are you married or single?  If single, do you hope to marry someday, or are you in an exclusive, long-term relationship with your Steinway?

LOLA:   I am not married and don’t see it in my immediate future.  My relationship with my Steinway, albeit a passionate one, is strictly professional. (Smiles)  It would have been more than a little sad otherwise.  I think it’s important to have other interests besides piano, and I, certainly, do.

DERRICK:  Would you care to comment on the passing last month of Alicia de Larrocha?  Did you ever meet her, or hear her play in person?  Have you been influenced at all by Miss de Larrocha?

LOLA:  I never had a chance to hear her in concert, alas.  She was one of the very few women who had a stellar career as a concert pianist and left a wonderful legacy.  That is always inspiring and empowering to me personally.  But, I can’t say that my own pianistic style or musical preferences were influenced by her in any way.

DERRICK:  You have described what an emotional experience it was for you to play on Vladimir Horowitz’ piano.  How would you describe Horowitz’ influence on you?

LOLA:   His influence was colossal.  I think he redefined what it means to be a pianist.  Everything he did had his own individual and unmistakable stamp, which is not only desirable, but is an absolute must for an artist.  I can’t say that I like everything that he did musically, in fact, I find some of his interpretations perfectly awful, but that doesn’t matter.  He always played his Chopin, his Mozart, and his Rachmaninoff.  He had a distinct musical personality and a style like no other, and that is what I find most valuable.

Now, obviously, Horowitz’s presence is still very much felt in the piano world and, as a result, many pianists try to imitate him and critics always itch to dub someone “the new Horowitz”.  I must say that I find both rather amusing.  There may be truly astonishing pianists that share certain qualities or attributes with Horowitz, but there will never be another Horowitz, just like there will never be another Pavarotti.  So there is no point in trying.  Actually, a little anecdote comes to mind: Gershwin once asked Ravel to teach him composition, to which Ravel supposedly responded: “Why would you want to be second rate Ravel when you can be first rate Gershwin?”  I second Ravel’s opinion, and though comparisons to the immortals are flattering, I’d never want to be “the new” anybody but myself.

DERRICK:  Have you ever played any of his transcriptions?

LOLA:  No, not in public.

DERRICK:  Who among the pianists of today do you especially admire?

LOLA:  YouTube’s Nora the Cat!  She has a special touch. (Laughs)  But if you want a serious answer…well, “admire” is a very special word for me.  Talent and skills alone do not impress me at this point as I’ve been fortunate to be among talented and capable musicians all my life.  What does impress me, however, are the people behind the talents – their human qualities, their aspirations and their integrity.  I know those don’t sound like musical terms, but they are no less important in music than in life.  And from that standpoint, so far I’ve seen more disappointments than inspirations in the classical field.  You know, Rachmaninoff almost never gave interviews on this subject because as he put it: “I was brought up never to lie…and I cannot tell the truth.”  I think I understand what he meant and I’m going to leave it at that.

DERRICK:  How would you describe the current state of music composition?  Do you see anyone writing music today whom you would place on the same level as the great composers of the past?  If yes, who?  If not, why not?

LOLA:  I presume you are asking about classical composition and if that’s the case – I am not aware of any composer today that I would compare with the greats of the past.  You see, to me a great composer is synonymous with original harmonic language.  In other words, creating something that sounds good and does not sound like somebody else. And in that sense, every composer today faces two huge challenges:  Number one – a lot has already been done in terms of harmony so it is really not easy to create something that is both valuable and original.  Number two – developing and refining one’s own harmonic language and style is a very slow and painstaking process which seems in total opposition of the super fast pace of the modern life.  And don’t forget that in addition to the tremendous technical skills and knowledge, composition requires a certain creative environment or atmosphere that simply does not exist anymore in the same way as it did in the days of Mozart or Chopin.

Of course, there is an entire group of composers that do the so-called “modern classical music”.  Those are the people who chose to experiment with atonal concepts, but I refuse to call that music.  I imagine that the original creators of that style genuinely searched for something new or “modern” and that a lot of their harsh sounds stemmed from the painful history of the 20th century.  But I also think that many of the subsequent works have simply been an attempt to shock the audience and generate publicity by inviting the press to endless “world premiers” of some god-awful pieces.  In my opinion the empty concert halls are in part the result of the industry’s long infatuation with those atonal concepts.

DERRICK:  How has the internet changed life for the concert artist today?  More specifically, how has YouTube, with its extraordinary library of music and musicians, changed the concert artist’s life today?

LOLA:  I think it’s fair to say that the Internet has changed not only the lives of individual artists, but the entire entertainment and media landscapes.  It’s even a bit overwhelming to think of all the opportunities that the Internet tools have opened for the arts, education, entertainment, and cultural exchange.  You are right, of course, about YouTube being a singular library of material, but there is much more to it than that.  It’s an amazing way to communicate with the audience directly, without intermediaries and outside the sometimes intimidating atmosphere of a concert hall.  It allows for an entirely different relationship between the artist and the listener and for a much closer, much more personal experience.

Another “YouTube revelation” actually relates to the “Holy Grail” of the classical music industry – the young audience.  For years classical presenters have been trying to lure the younger crowd into concert halls and evidently without much success.  Yet, over half of my online viewers are people in their teens, twenties and thirties.  I receive daily emails from teenagers who say that they are inspired, and who subscribe to my channel along with Taylor Swift’s or Kanye’s.  These are guys and girls of very diverse backgrounds, but they all seem to have a sort of innate appreciation for this music.  And many grasp the significance of the arts much more than the classical establishment knows.  For example, my video about the arts in this economy has been passionately supported by countless young YouTubers, including such Internet stars as Ryan Higa and Iman Crosson, while traditional classical organizations have remained completely indifferent if not hostile.

DERRICK:  Have the advantages of the internet and YouTube, such as increased exposure, made up for the fact that there is less need now for people to buy records?

LOLA:  From the artistic and audience interaction standpoint – absolutely.  From the strictly commercial standpoint – not yet, but classical music is, probably, less affected by that than pop because classical record sales have been essentially non-existent for years.

DERRICK:  What do you think of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony having been arranged as a concerto for piano and orchestra?  Have you seen the score?

LOLA:  I haven’t seen the score.  I’d have to see it before I can tell you what I think.

DERRICK:  You mentioned that you hoped to play in Seattle next year.  Are you anticipating a solo recital, or an appearance with orchestra?  Has anything been confirmed yet?

LOLA:  I have a confirmed private event performance in Washington next year, but I don’t believe I’ve been invited by any classical presenters in Seattle.  Once I’m invited, sure, I’d love to come and perform.

DERRICK:  If I were to select a few pieces that I would most like to hear you play, I would choose Scriabin’s Etude Op. 42, No. 5, Prokofiev’s 6th and 8th sonatas, and the sonata by Samuel Barber.  Is there any hope for me?

LOLA:  Yes, let’s start with Scriabin’s Etude.  I haven’t played it in a long time so thanks for reminding me.

DERRICK:  Lola, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this interview.

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Prelude Op. 23 No. 5 Pianist: Emil Gilels

rachmaninoffAlthough Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943) was one of the great pianists of the 20th century, and a successful conductor as well, it is primarily as a composer that he is remembered today.  The spiritual descendant of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff remained aloof from the new modes of expression that characterized 20th century music, and is often referred to as the last composer of the Romantic era.

To conclude our brief look at Rachmaninoff’s music, Emil Gilels (1916 – 1985), another of the 20th century’s great pianists, gives a stirring performance of one of his most romantic works, the Prelude Op. 23 No. 5, which dates from 1901.

Published in: on September 20, 2009 at 7:45 am  Comments (2)  
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Sergei Rachmaninoff: Two Pieces for Piano Pianist: Manlio Giordano

Manlio Giordano is an Italian-Swedish pianist who began his formal piano instruction at age three, started giving public performances at five, and performed on Swedish national radio at ten.  He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in music from Lund University in Sweden, and has since performed throughout Scandinavia and other countries.

The two pieces that follow were both encores to a beautiful – and notably personal – interpretation of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, also available on YouTube.  The first piece is Rachmaninoff’s hauntingly beautiful Prelude Op. 32 No. 10.

The next video is an absolutely splendid performance of one of Rachmaninoff’s most exciting piano works, his Etude Op. 39 No. 9.

Note: In a comment to a previous entry on this blog, Mr. Giordano mentions that he has been looking for a long time for a CD of Vladimir Sofronitsky playing the Etudes Op. 8 and Preludes Op. 11 by Scriabin.  Does anyone reading this know what album he is talking about and how one might find a copy of it?  If you do, please reply in a comment to this video.  Many thanks.

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 8:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 Pianist: Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn

I mentioned in an earlier entry that Vladimir Horowitz was one of my first heroes of the piano.  Van Cliburn was the other.

Cliburn was born in 1934 in Schreveport, Louisiana.  He began taking piano lessons at age three from his mother, who was his only teacher until he entered Juilliard in 1951, where he studied with the renowned Rosina Lhévinne.  After winning the prestigious Leventritt Award and making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1954, Cliburn famously captured the gold medal at the First International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958.  He returned home to a hero’s welcome and a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

I had the good fortune to hear Cliburn in person on three occasions.  The first was in 1964, at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.  He played an exceptionally demanding program, including Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata, Chopin’s Sonata No. 3, and the Sonata Op. 26 by Samuel Barber.

The second time was in 1965 in Denver, where his program included Prokofiev’s epic Sixth Sonata.  I managed to speak with him after both recitals, and he could not have been more gracious.  Both the Barber and Prokofiev sonatas have since become great favorites of mine;  I hope to feature them in future installments of this blog.

When I first discovered classical music, I listened to Cliburn’s recordings of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 over and over.  Between his recitals and his recordings, he exerted a strong influence on my nascent musical preferences.

It is that same concerto by Rachmaninoff that we hear in this video, which dates from 1972.  Kiril Kondrashin conducts the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonata No. 2 Pianist: Lola Astanova

Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Lola Astanova was born in 1982 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan  in the former Soviet Union.  She began studying piano at age 6 and performing in public at 8.  She emigrated to the United States in 2003, and in 2004 made her U.S. debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Lola has a special affinity for the Russian composers Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, and Rachmaninoff.  Watching her videos, I am impressed by her virtuosity, certainly, but even more by her passion for this music.  In sports parlance, she leaves it all on the field.

While some pianists and critics insist on the greatest possible fidelity to the score, Lola is not shy about making changes when she feels they’re warranted.  We have an example of that in this sonata by Rachmaninoff, about which Lola writes, “After carefully listening to Rachmaninoff’s original and revised versions of the first movement, I put together my own version that combined the two.  Although there was plenty of material in the original version that was simply too beautiful to leave out, I forced myself to do that as some of its elements were interfering with the structure of the movement. I felt a bit like a painter who has a palette of rich and vibrant colors, but cannot use all of them because the canvas is just too small.”

This performance demonstrates the passion and technical command that typify Ms. Astanova’s playing.  I, for one, have become a new fan, and look forward with great anticipation to additional examples of her artistry.

Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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