Grier Piano and Cello Duo – 6th July 2019

On Saturday 6th July we shall be hosting a programme of great Cello and Piano Sonatas – to be performed by two-thirds of the Grier Piano Trio! While violinist Savitri is otherwise engaged in China with the Berlin Philharmonic – a great tribute to her immense talent – Francis and Indira Grier will perform the following works for Piano and Cello:

  1. BEETHOVEN worked on his third Sonata for Piano and Cello, Opus 69 in A Major, between 1806 and 1808, when his deafness was all but total. In his tragic letter (the “Heiligenstadt Testament”) of 1802, he had admitted harbouring thoughts of suicide. “It was only my art that held me back – Oh, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt was within me.”
    Yet this sonata is one of the most positive works imaginable – from the opening phrase it radiates serenity, humour and joy. It is thoroughly classical in structure, with every theme perfectly conceived for both instruments.
  2. SHOSTAKOVICH was on his way to premiere his Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor, Opus 40, in 1934, when he read Stalin’s statement in Pravda attacking his music as “bourgeois”. This was the start of a desperately difficult period for the composer, entailing withdrawal of several works from rehearsal and performance – but not, fortunately, this Sonata.
    Written in the style of his large-scale symphonic works, its first movement is in textbook sonata form – even including repeats of the exposition. Yet, unsurprisingly, there is no lack of satire or mockery, particularly in the vehement Scherzo. The aria-like third movement is more compassionate than desolate, with almost Schubertian lyrical grace. The comically sinister finale builds tremendous momentum before coming to an abrupt and unceremonious end.
  3. BRAHMS composed his glorious F Major Sonata for Cello and Piano (Opus 99) while on a summer holiday in Switzerland in 1886. This epic work represents one of the most technically demanding challenges for both performers in the chamber music repertoire. It is a fiery, exultant, heroic, even bombastic, conception – interwoven with the many heavenly themes we expect of late Brahms.
    At its core lies a breathtakingly beautiful slow movement labelled “adagio affettuoso”, words that clearly held special significance for him; it concludes with an ineffable sense of lasting peace and serenity.

To be sure of a place and avoid the waiting list, please book early.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page. We look forward to welcoming you on 6th July and thank you, as ever, for your kind support.

Roskell Piano Trio – 25th May 2019

The Roskell Piano Trio (Penelope Roskell, Ruth Schulten and Heather Tuach) grew out of Penelope Roskell’s long-standing collaboration with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, with whom she has performed much of the Piano Quintet repertoire. The Trio is in residence at London’s Sutton House, where it gave its first sell-out performance in 2011.

We are now delighted to offer Maxability’s supporters an opportunity to hear the Roskell Piano Trio perform three of the most wonderful works in the genre:

  • Mozart – Piano Trio in B Flat, K.502
  • Mendelssohn – Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 49
  • Beethoven – Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70 (“Ghost”)
  1. Mozart
    In this Trio the ensemble’s most prominent role is occupied by the piano – which is hardly surprising when we remember that the extraordinary spirit Mozart breathed into his keyboard trios corresponded with the very time that the harpsichord was being replaced by the pianoforte. Mozart’s great and enduring contribution to the Piano Trio medium began in 1786 with the brilliant work we shall hear tonight, composed immediately after Marriage of Figaro, and just before his Prague Symphony.
  2. Mendelssohn
    More than fifty years later Mendelssohn completed his 4-movement D Minor Piano Trio, one of the most popular works in the repertoire. Together with his Op.20 Octet, this Trio is recognised as one of Mendelssohn’s finest chamber compositions. When Robert Schumann heard it he declared Mendelssohn to be “the Mozart of the nineteenth century, the brightest musician, who most clearly understands the contradictions of the age and is the first to reconcile them.”
  3. Beethoven
    The D Major Piano Trio, the first of Beethoven’s two Opus 70 trios, is known as the Ghost, and is one of his best-known works in the chamber music genre, rivalled only by the “Archduke” (which we shall be hearing later this year). The Opus 70 Trio gained its “Ghost” subtitle when Beethoven’s pupil, Czerny, wrote in 1842 that the slow movement brought to his mind the ghost scene at the opening of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and this apt epithet has stuck with the work ever since.

We are clearly in for another wonderful evening – please book early to avoid a waiting list.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page. We look forward to welcoming you on 25th May and thank you, as ever, for your kind support.

Bottrill Duo – 27th April 2019

You will be delighted to learn that on 27th April (starting at 7pm) we shall once again be welcoming the Bottrill Piano Duo.

As many of you know, the dynamic range of our Steinway D Concert Grand is most fully displayed when piano duets are performed on it. The wonderful Bottrill Piano Duo (Zrinka and Andrew) is favouring us with a return visit that will include two of the greatest works ever composed for this medium.

The two principal works will be:

  • Schubert’s Fantasie in F Minor, D.940 [Op. Posthumous]

    Once heard, never forgotten, this late work, composed only months before his death at the age of 31, has its place in the pantheon of late Schubert works, alongside the C Major String Quintet, the G Major Quartet (Performed by the Fitzwilliams at the last concert) and his last Symphony, no. 9 in C Major, D.944.

    Musicologist Christopher Gibbs has described this work as “among not only his greatest, but his most original compositions for piano duet”. It was dedicated to Karoline Esterhazy, with whom Schubert was in (unrequited) love. Four months after his death it was published by Anton Diabelli. Its original manuscript resides in the Austrian National Library in Vienna.

  • Mozart’s Last Sonata for 4 Hands in C Major [K. 521, 1787]

    Even Mozart proclaimed, in a typical understatement, that performing this 3-movement sonata is “rather difficult”! Both parts are equally demanding, and the opening and closing movements are of exceptional brilliance. Having said that, the sonata breathes grace and elegance in the same vein as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, composed just two months later.

Interspersed between these pillars of the classical repertoire we shall hear a number of shorter gems by Dvorak and Janacek (both arranged for four hands by Andrew, this being their first performance), Poulenc’s 1918 Sonata, and finishing with a Spanish Dance by Manuel Da Falla.

What a comprehensive confection! It might be useful to print out these programme notes and bring them with you.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page. We look forward to welcoming you on 27th April and thank you, as ever, for your kind support and co-operation.