“It’s Not What It Seems” with Anita Renfroe

Allie Remis
Staff Writer

The lovely and talented Dr. Anita Renfroe performed a piano and harpsichord recital entitled “It’s Not What it Seems!” in the Biemesderfer Concert Hall in the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon. Dr. Renfroe is a Professor of Music and the Director of Keyboard Studies here at Millersville University. The title of her recital, “It’s Not What it Seems,” alludes to something being amiss in each of the pieces, either stated or inferred. Dr. Renfroe used a projector to display a powerpoint with brief histories of each of the composers and background about each of the pieces.
The first piece was Sonata in E Flat Major by Bach. This was an example of a church sonata because the three movements followed the pattern fast-slow-fast. It was a duet between Dr. Renfroe on the harpsichord and Christy Banks on the soprano saxophone. It was pointed out in the powerpoint that the harpsichord was played only for accompaniment until Bach, who let the harpsichord take center stage.
The second piece was Les Folies Francoises or The French Follies composed by the French composer Francois Couperin. In Europe around the time this was composed, carnival characters would arrive at a masked ball wearing different colors to symbolize the different virtues. Couperin used meter and musicality to reflect each of the eleven virtues into the music.

Dr. Anita Renfroe played a total of six pieces for the night.
Dr. Anita Renfroe played a total of six pieces for the night.

The third piece was Sonata Opus 2 #2 in A Major by Beethoven. This piece had four movements (Allegro Vivace, Largo appassionato, Scherzo, and Rondo) instead of the usual three. The first movement Allegro Vivace was jubilant and repetitious, meant to mimic a conversation between the instruments. Largo appassionato, the second movement, was sadder, taking the piece to a darker mood. The third movement, Scherzo, was much more whimsical than the movement before; with an upbeat tune that sounded like little highly talented bunnies were hopping along the keyboard. Rondo was the fourth and final movement which closed out the sonata with sweeping lines covering over three octaves.
The fourth piece was Intermezzo Number 3, Opus 117, in C sharp minor by Johannes Brahms. Dr. Renfroe shared that she was about twenty years old the first time she played this piece and hadn’t played it again until this past summer. This piece had a ‘fast and furious’ feel with highly syncopated rhythms and phrases.
The two final pieces were composed by Emil von Sauer whose concert career included two US tours. Etude Number 1 Frisson de Feuilles and Etude Number 6 Orage d’ Avril were the names of the two pieces. They were the fastest of all of the pieces.
Dr. Anita Renfroe showed incredible talent and finesse on both the piano and the harpsichord. There were a few times that she would look up from the piano, with her hands still moving at lightning speed, to look out and smile at the audience. It was as if the pieces she was playing were gems that she was delighted she could unearth to us, and it showed how truly at ease she feels behind her instrument.