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.

Fitzwilliam String Quartet – 23rd March 2019

Our next concert, on 23 March, will be exceptional – both in terms of the music, and the musicians who will perform it!

Having just celebrated their 50th year in existence, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet is one of the longest established Quartet ensembles in the world, and their violist, Alan George, is one of the original Cambridge undergraduates who formed it in 1968.

Alan obviously knows, and has performed, just about everything in the genre. So after the last FSQ concert at Greenacre, I naively asked him to name what he considered to be the truly greatest quartet ever composed. He thought carefully, but not overlong. “Sorry”, he said, “there isn’t just one such quartet, there are two. In my opinion, the two greatest quartets ever composed are Schubert’s last quartet in G Major – and the very last quartet that Beethoven completed, Opus 131 in C Sharp Minor.”

And that, friends, is the programme for the next concert! Maxability audiences are immeasurably privileged to hear the FSQ in a real “Chamber Music” setting, and you hardly need to know more than that before booking a place!

The two works were completed within a fortnight of each other, respectively in June 1826 (Schubert) and July 1826 (Beethoven), when both were very close to the end of their lives, aged 31 and 57 respectively. When Schubert heard a performance of the Beethoven quartet, he said “after this, what’s left for us to write?”

Yet his own final quartet in G, although utterly different, is equally remarkable. Its opening is unforgettable. It is launched by a swelling chord that slips from G Major to G Minor before reaching a leaping motif in dotted rhythms – and then a haunting passage of shivering mystery…….no words can convey what follows. Just listen.

Only five days before he died in November 1828 Schubert’s final request to his closest friends was for them to perform Beethoven’s C Sharp Minor Quartet.

Beethoven considered this quartet to be his “most perfect single work”. Robert Schumann said that this quartet “had a grandeur that no words can express. It seems to me to stand on the extreme boundary of all that has hitherto been attained by human art and imagination.” It consists of seven movements played without a break, the 6th lasting barely 10 seconds, and only the first and last movements are in the key of C Sharp Minor. When listening to this astonishing creation you will recognise above all that, in Beethoven, form and content are inseparable: the medium and the message are one.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page. We look forward to welcoming you on 23rd March.

Vitaly Pisarenko – 2nd March 2019

Piano recitals are an ideal medium for our ‘chamber’ concert evenings. Apart from the shared intimacy afforded by the the full range of tones of our wonderful Steinway concert grand, it enables us to allocate more space to seating than is possible when we host larger ensembles.

I am therefore delighted to announce that for our 2nd March concert that renowned young Ukrainian keyboard master, Vitaly Pisarenko, will perform a varied programme of works by Brahms, Schumann, Liszt and Chopin.

Vitaly Pisarenko, born in Kiev, gave his first public recital at the age of 6, and after winning First Prize at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in 2008, Vitaly performed in over 25 countries worldwide – from Korea to Chile and Indonesia to Brazil – as well as in several French, German, Dutch and Italian Music Festivals.

He has made extensive international tours with leading orchestras, and performed in London at the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, St John’s Smith Square and St James Piccadilly. Later this year he will perform in Netherlands, Mexico, Turkey, Hong Kong and South Africa.

1st Half – Brahms & Schumann

In the first half of his recital Vitaly will perform the irresistibly haunting Theme & Variations (Op. 18b) of Brahms’ own piano rendition of the second movement of his String Sextet, dedicated to Clara Schumann as a birthday gift; followed by his Opus 4 Scherzo.

He will then perform Robert Schumann’s exhilarating G Minor Sonata – the first movement of which is famously marked ‘to be played as quickly as possible’. Schumann obviously had a keen sense of humour, because near the end it is marked “faster” and, just before the close, “faster still”! The gentle slow movement is followed by a breathtaking finale.

2nd Half – Liszt & Chopin

We shall hear two of Chopin’s Scherzos, and Liszt’s two Ballades. Liszt’s B Minor Ballade is linked to the Byzantine myth of Leander and Hero, the priestess of Aphrodite, who dwelt in a tower on the European side of the Dardanelles. Her lover, Leander, would swim every night across the Hellespont, guided by a lamp lit by Hero at the top of her tower… until one stormy night the wind blew out Hero’s light, Leander lost his way and was drowned. Hero, grief-stricken, threw herself from her tower.

You will gather that this promises to be an exceptional programme, and we are privileged to have secured Vitaly’s attendance in the midst of his impossible schedule of international tours. Not to be missed!

Those of you who completed the advance booking sheet at our concert on 2nd February need not respond to this email invitation, but if you have not booked you will appreciate the importance of responding soon – this will assuredly be a sell-out.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page. We look forward to welcoming you on 2nd March.

Atsuko Kawakami – 2nd February 2019

Our star performer on this occasion will be the brilliant Japanese pianist Atsuko Kawakami, in her first Maxability solo performance, and her selection of timeless gems provides us with one of our most memorable recital programmes ever!

The programme details are as follows:

  1. Sonata in C Major by Galuppi, a contemporary of Scarlatti.
  2. Beethoven’s Sonata in F Minor, Op.57 (‘Appassionata’) – one of his most profound keyboard masterpieces.
  3. Granados’ Op. 11 Suite, ‘Goyescas’, usually considered the composer’s crowning creation, inspired by the paintings of Goya. This haunting, evocative piece, No 4 in the suite, is sub-titled ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale’.
  4. Frederic Chopin: Polonaise in C Sharp Minor, Op.26 No.1; Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17 No.4; and Atsuko will conclude her recital with his breathtaking 4th Ballade in F minor Op. 52.

With less than two weeks to go, there are now only EIGHT places still available at this concert. Please book very soon if you would like to attend.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page. We look forward to hearing from you, with best wishes to all of you for 2019.

UPDATE – Rosamunde Piano Trio, 17th November 2018

With only two weeks to go before one of Maxability’s major events of 2018, there are still some places available for the final concert of this year, on Saturday 17th November at 7 pm.

Living on the spot, Anita and Emile don’t need to travel to hear great music – but they would go a long way to experience tonight’s two main works, performed by the widely renowned Rosamunde Piano Trio.

The first is one of Mendelssohn’s most romantic and melody-filled chamber compositions, the deeply-moving Piano Trio No.2 in C minor, Op.66.

The second is one of Shostakovich’s most profound works – Piano Trio No.2 in E minor, Op.67. Its opening theme is breathtakingly etched on the upper harmonics of the Cello strings with no vibrato – a challenge to every cellist who has ever been brave enough to embrace this staggering work.

As with so many of our performances, ‘once heard, never forgotten!’

Star players occasionally perform at Greenacre as a sort of ‘run-through’ for a South Bank, Wigmore or King’s Place booking, but this time it’s the other way around – when you hear them on 17th they will already have performed the identical programme at King’s Place! So they will be well-rehearsed, relaxed and eager to give their best in this strikingly original programme.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.

Rosamunde Piano Trio – 17th November 2018

The final concert of 2018 will be held on Saturday evening, November 17th, at the usual time of 7pm.

It will be performed by one of our very favourite ensembles, the Rosamunde Piano Trio – Martino Tirimo (piano), Ben Sayevich (violin) and Daniel Veis (Cello).

The programme they have chosen is exceptional, and I’m sure you will make very effort to be there.

They will perform this special programme at King’s Place on 11th November, marking the exact 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. The programme reflects that unique purpose and quality: two of the works are truly ‘war’ pieces, both written at the time of the First World War.

This is the programme:

  • Lili Boulanger – D’un soir triste (1918)
  • Shostakovich – Piano Trio No.2 in E minor Op.67


  • Casella – Pagine di Guerra Op.25 (1916)
  • Mendelssohn – Piano Trio No.2 in C minor Op.66

The Casella ‘Pages of War’ is for piano duet, which Martino will play with Atsuko Kawakami.
Lili Boulanger’s work was written at the age of 24 in 1918, shortly before her death.

Some brief notes on the major works:

  1. Those who have heard Shostakovich’s E Minor Piano Trio (composed in the last year of the second World War) will never forget that stark opening theme played entirely on the harmonics of the Cello strings, without a trace of vibrato, followed by the Violin, and then repeated “marcato” on the Piano. The second movement is a restless, frenzied dance, followed by the slow movement consisting of sombre melodic lines from all three instruments, fading into the “Dance of Death” finale that includes a Jewish melody quoted in Shostakovich’s famous String Quartet No. 8.
  2. The first three movements of Mendelssohn’s monumental Piano Trio No 2 in C Minor (composed exactly 100 years before the Shostakovich) are in the classical style of Allegro, Andante and Scherzo. The Finale is labeled “Allegro appassionato” and it includes a chorale melody associated the English tune “Old Hundredth” and Psalm 100 – sung to the lyrics “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Bach used it extensively in his own Chorale Cantata BWV 130.

You will all agree that this promises to be one of Maxability’s most memorable evenings of 2018, and I recommend that you reserve your places as soon as you have checked your diaries. As usual, the concert will begin at 7pm, but you are free to arrive from 6.30 to reserve your place(s) and enjoy a pre-concert glass of wine or juice. The concert will finish before between 8.45 and 9.00, followed as usual by supper, with wine.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.

Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis – 27th October 2018

We are delighted to welcome Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis for a return concert on 27 October, at the usual time of 7pm.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.

Multi-award-winning folk musicians Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis first met at university in Brighton in 2010 and started performing around Brighton as a duo, playing folk and blues songs. They have become two of the most respected and innovative musicians on the British folk scene, and are the main songwriting partnership behind the hit folk band Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys.

They continue to play together throughout the UK at folk clubs, music venues and festivals, performing inventive interpretations of tunes and songs (in between humorous anecdotes and stories of their misadventures). An evening of most pleasurable musical entertainment is guaranteed!

You can find out more about them by visiting Sam Kelly’s website.

Sam and Jamie performed for Maxability a few years ago. The event proved so popular that, ever since, audience members have been entreating us to bring them back! The enforced cancellation of our previously scheduled ensemble has enabled us to oblige, and thankfully the lads were not booked to play elsewhere that night!

Their work has attracted numerous rave reviews. Here are just a few edited highlights:

About Sam Kelly:

‘What a beautiful singer. He has that really rare male voice, that soft-edged tone, you know those beautiful tenor voices of the 30’s and 40’s… it really draws you in.’
Kate Rusby, fRoots magazine (on the ‘next big thing’).

‘Sam has such a beautiful voice and sings with so much soul. I’ve seen him perform live a few times and he’s amazing.’
Cara Dillon

‘I think this guy is absolutely brilliant…. His voice is beyond sublime.’
Mike Harding

‘Amazing, thrilling music.’
Mark Radcliffe, Radio 2 Folk Show

‘A captivating performer, Sam Kelly has one of the best young male voices in British acoustic roots music. Seriously… Check him out!’
Sean Lakeman

About Jamie Francis:

‘Fantastic banjo player’
Mike Harding, the Mike Harding Folk Show

‘Stealing the banjo from the clutches of Mumford and Sons’
Huey Morgan, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, BBC Radio 2

‘Exemplary Banjo’

‘Superb banjo picking’

Don’t take our word for it – have a look for yourselves!

Grier Piano Trio – 7th July 2018

We are delighted to announce the final concert of the summer season, after which there will be a break until mid-September.

The Grier Family Trio – Francis (Piano), Savitri (Violin) and Indira (‘Cello) – will be performing for Maxability on Saturday 7th July at 7pm. Early booking is strongly recommended in view of their huge popularity, and the delightful programme they have selected, which is as follows:

  1. Beethoven: “Spring” Sonata in F, Op 24, for Violin and Piano
    (Although this popular sonata takes little more than 20 minutes to perform, its joyful mood and sparkling melodies justly earned it the epithet “Spring” after the composer’s death.)
  2. Shostakovich: Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor, Op. 40
    (It was on his way to premiere his piano & cello sonata that Shostakovich read Stalin’s statement in Pravda attacking his music as “bourgeois”. This initiated a difficult period for the composer, including the emotional turmoil of a divorce instigated by a love affair – all of which is reflected in this breathtaking work’s relentlessly unremitting and deeply felt rhythms and harmonies. An unforgettable experience for the listener!)
  3. Beethoven: Piano Trio in E Flat, Op 1 No 1
    (The Opus 1 designation is misleading – Beethoven was already 25 years old when he composed the three Opus 1 Piano Trios. He gave them this classification because he considered them sufficiently substantial (and marketable!). Indeed, the sublime second subject of the opening movement reflects an emotional maturity that we might expect of much later works.)

As usual, the concert will begin at 7 pm, but you are free to arrive from 6.30 to reserve your place(s) and enjoy a pre-concert glass of wine or juice. The concert will finish before between 8.45 and 9.00, followed as usual by supper, with wine.

For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.