Azalea Kelley, 15, is a tenth-grader at Beacon High School and a piano student of Emily White. She has performed in festival concerts at Merkin Hall and at Weill Hall as prizewinner of the New York Music Competition and the American Protégé Competition. She has won 3rd Prize at the Chopin Competition in Hartford, CT, Honorable Mention at the Special Music School Concerto Competition and the International Young Artists’ Piano Competition in Washington, D.C., and has performed as finalist in the Los Angeles Young Musicians’ International Piano Competition and the AMTL Scholarship Awards. Azalea dances in annual ballet recitals at Merkin Hall and has studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse Junior School. Azalea’s Bach performance has been featured in commercials for GE Synchrony on cable television.
Chopin’s Scherzo No. 1 in B Minor dates from 1831 and is a far cry from the joke its frothy title may suggest. In sheer dramatic tone and desperate patriotism, it evokes the violent futility of the Polish revolt against Russia in the November Uprising, during which time Chopin waited out the conflict away from home, in Vienna. The brilliant chromatic sparks of the reiterated main theme are peeled away to reveal a soothing “three-handed” adaptation of the Polish Christmas lullaby Lulajze Jezuniu, until the eye of the storm passes and the fire returns. Armageddon overtakes the keyboard as a coda of furious arpeggios disintegrates into a conflagration of chromatic scales and the opening chords of the piece bitterly and morbidly answer their own question.