Last Friday, Muhlenberg faculty member Paul Windt performed in a faculty recital on violin, accompanied by Michael Sheadel on piano. The performance took place in the Recital Hall in the Baker Center for the Arts.
Windt began studying the violin under Mihail Stolarevsky, and he made his professional recital debut when he was twelve years old. After that, Windt studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Jascha Brodsky and Efrem Zimbalist. During his time as a faculty member at Muhlenberg, Windt has given yearly recitals with several different pianists to much critical acclaim. He was previously a faculty member of Cedar Crest College, Lehigh University, the New School of Music and Temple University Music Prep. Windt has been a violin teacher for fifty years, and his students have gone onto prestigious music schools such as the Eastman School of Music and Temple University.
Sheadel has performed in the United States and Europe as both a soloist and a collaborative pianist. He has also performed with several chamber music ensembles, including the Chestnut Brass Company, the Philadelphia Virtuosi and the Settlement Contemporary Players. Sheadel has earned degrees in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music, The Peabody Conservatory and Temple University. He is a piano teacher at the University of Pennsylvania and the Main Line Conservatory, and he is a former faculty member of the Blue Mountain Chamber Music Festival.
Windt and Sheadel opened their recital with two pieces composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Adagio in E Major, K. 261 and Rondo in C Major, K. 373. Beginning with these two pieces and continuing throughout the performance, Windt and Sheadel both exhibited their impeccable abilities on their respective instruments. They both had an excellent tone, and they blended their sounds together extremely well. Windt and Sheadel did a fantastic job of complementing each other when they played together, but they also had smooth changes in dynamic when either Windt or Sheadel shined in a solo moment. One aspect of Windt’s performance that was particularly impressive was the fact that during both pieces composed by Mozart, as well as Christian Sinding’s Suite in A Minor, Opus 10 in the second half of the recital, he was not reading music.
The first half of the recital closed with Johannes Brahms’ Sonata in G Major, Opus 78 which contained three movements: Vivace ma non troppo, Adagio and Allegro molto moderato. This piece was compelling to watch and listen to because there were many moments in which Windt and Sheadel played the melody of the piece or one of them took over the melody from the other. These moments were seamless, and they brought so much life to the piece that was extremely impressive.
Christian Sinding’s Suite in A Minor, Opus 10 opened the second half of the recital. Although Windt was phenomenal throughout the entire recital, this piece in particular allowed his flawless technique to come to the forefront through long runs of notes at a very fast tempo that were perfectly executed. Also, Windt had an especially clear and crisp tone in this piece that was truly beautiful.
While Windt’s technique was prominent in the previous piece, Sheadel also had incredible technique during the first movement of the closing piece within the recital, Felix Mendelssohn’s Sonata in F Major (composed in 1838). In the latter two movements of the piece, Windt and Sheadel smoothly transitioned from having prominent to more accompaniment roles, switching interchangeably to help feature the other during their turn. It was remarkable that they could have two completely different parts musically, but they were still able to blend their sounds flawlessly. Instead of competing for the prominent role in the piece, they were balancing and juggling with each other to achieve a beautiful balance of sound.
The audience had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to Windt’s and Sheadel’s performances. Even though it was not a particularly large audience, the applause filled the entirety of the Recital Hall. The enthusiasm from the audience even led to Windt and Sheadel playing an encore, Cradle Song. When asked about his reaction to the recital, audience member Andrew Leahy ’21 responded: “My enjoyment of the performance cannot be overstated. I was particularly drawn to the concentration and engagement of the performers. They were showcasing a side of musicianship that I always take into consideration – not just creating beautiful music but showing it as well.” Leahy’s reaction is one that seemed to be shared by the entire audience. Windt and Sheadel are both extremely talented, and their performance was a delight to attend.