Rosamunde Piano Trio – 27 November 2021

With your generous assistance, and the practical efforts of our “Home team” we have survived the worst of the virus epidemic, and our crucial charity concerts appear to have been reinstated successfully. Our most recent concert, on 6 November, was fully booked two weeks in advance.

Therefore, please don’t hesitate to reserve your places for the final concert of this year, which will be held on 27th November.  

We have never hosted a concert season without including at least one performance by the great Rosamunde Piano Trio [Martino Tirimo (Piano), Ben Sayevich (Violin) and Daniel Veis (Cello)]. Maxability regulars will certainly not want to miss this one – especially with the following programme: 

DVORAK – Piano Trio No. 4 in E Minor, Op 90 (Dumky)
BRAHMS – Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op 60

The above works are truly sublime and need no written introduction from me – but on this occasion Rosamunde is venturing away from the classical Piano Trios by including this remarkable work:

REBECCA CLARKE ‘Dumka’ for Piano Trio, composed in 1940/41

British-born Rebecca Clarke was a pioneer at a time of considerable prejudice against female composers. Although trained in England, she achieved her first success in the United States after World War I. At the start of World War II she won temporary and grudging appreciation as a composer. She died at the age of 93, largely unacknowledged.

Composed at a time when Arnold Schoenberg was promoting atonality, Clarke’s Piano Trio is conservative in its harmonic language, but strikingly original in the ways in which Clarke uses her musical material.

Booking

The recommended donation of £35 will cover the concert, drinks and light post-concert snack.

Please note that our supper provision at concerts has changed.  For full details, and for booking instructions – including suggested donations – please have a look at our concerts page.

Fitzwilliam String Quartet / Greenwich Piano Trio – 6 November 2021

Members of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet and the Greenwich Piano Trio will combine to perform two great classical works:

1 – Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E flat Major, K493
and
2 – Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A Major, D667 (“The Trout”)

The opening movement of Mozart’s E Flat Piano Quartet evokes the grandeur of his earlier Piano Concerto in the same key of E Flat, K482. It is  a mellow and genial work, constantly balancing the strings and piano parts, while exuding pure joy from first to last – once heard, never forgotten! Exactly what we all need right now!

Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet is one of the best-loved and well-known chamber music works in the entire repertoire. This natural, unaffected and carefree 5-movement work can truly be described as music of Schubert’s innocence, composed when he was only 22 years old – although not published until after his death 9 years later. Its instrumentation is unusual: unlike the expected format of string quartet plus piano, it has no second violin part, but includes a part for double-bass! The work’s nickname stems from its fourth movement: a theme and variations on Schubert’s lied “Die Forelle” (The Trout). The variations do not transform the original theme into new thematic material; rather, they concentrate on melodic decoration and changes of mood. In each variation, the main theme is played by a different instrument. Undimmed by the pain of illness and unrequited love that dogged Schubert’s few remaining years, the ‘Trout’ is nothing less than a paean to life. Don’t miss it!

AS A BONUS:  The Mozart will be followed by a tiny piece “Impromptu” for viola and piano by Shostakovich; and then the two extant movements of Schubert’s String Trio in B flat, D.471. Both these works are of special interest: the manuscript of the Impromptu, dating from 1931, was only discovered a few years ago, and Alan George, our violist, was able to give its British premiere! And the second movement of the Schubert has also been heard only recently, when Brian Newbould, the eminent Schubert scholar, completed it!

Emergence from Covid-induced trauma has been slow, and as a result our post-lockdown audiences have been around 50% of their former size. However, if anything can persuade our supporters to re-emerge in strength, this next programme is the one that will do it!

Please note:

(i) Tonight’s ensemble will occupy more floorspace than usual, and the maximum number of guests we can accommodate is correspondingly reduced.  Thereforeto avoid a waiting list, please let me have your reservations as soon as possible. 

(ii) The recommended donation of £35 will cover the concert, drinks and light post-concert snack.

Please note that our supper provision at concerts has changed.  For full details, and for booking instructions – including suggested donations – please have a look at our concerts page.

Penelope Roskell – Piano Recital

Our next concert will take place on Saturday 11th September 2021, at the usual time of 7pm.

Following a number of successful chamber concerts, culminating in our recent evening with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, we shall next be hosting an exceptional programme of music for Solo Piano.

Penelope Roskell is known to us mainly through memorable performances by her Roskell Piano Trio, but I am now delighted to invite you to her next concert, which is a solo piano recital. Penelope is a renowned international concert performer, a Professor of Piano and an inspirational teacher. Her recent book “The Complete Pianist” is a must for keyboard aficionados, both amateur and professional!

The programme she has selected for this occasion is, as you might expect, nonpareil. Here it is in full:

Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C major, Book 1
Mozart: Fantasie in D minor
Chopin: Nocturne in Bb minor
Chopin: Ballade No 3
–– Interval –– 
Schubert: Sonata in Bb D960 [Molto moderato; Andante sostenuto; Scherzo: Allegro vivace con delicatezza – Trio; Allegro ma non troppo – Presto] 

To elaborate just a little: After the elemental tranquility of  Bach’s opening Prelude & Fugue we shall hear Mozart’s D Minor “Fantaisie”, a work that almost anticipates the atonal writing of 100 years later! This will be followed by Chopin’s sublime Bb minor Nocturne, and finally his monumental 3rd Ballade. And that’s just the first half!

 A single work will follow the the interval – Schubert’s profound, groundbreaking final sonata in Bb, D 960, completed scarcely a month before his tragically early death at the age of 31. Its depth of emotional expression defies academic analysis, other than to note the distinct allusions and similarities to works by Beethoven – a composer Schubert venerated. 

Booking

As you can see, we have a truly irresistible programme of music that sustains and inspires. Kindly note that several advance bookings were made (in the usual way) by audience members at our last concert. 

Therefore please let me have your reservations as soon as possible – demand for places is likely to be substantial.

Make the evening a real treat – arrive at 6.15 to enjoy Anita’s beautiful garden with a pre-concert glass of wine or fruit juice. As usual, the concert will be followed by a light buffet. For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.

And a final note: although restrictions on numbers have been lifted, we shall nevertheless maintain our policy of keeping an ample circulation of fresh air throughout the evening.

With much appreciation of your continued support for Maxability and its vital contribution to the welfare of disabled people. We look forward to sharing this special evening with you.

Fitzwilliam String Quartet – 24 July 2021

Our next concert will be on Saturday 24th July at 7pm.

Hosting the illustrious Fitzwilliam String Quartet is one of our most popular, and regular, concert events – and this year’s Programme is as special as tradition demands!

We shall hear two of the greatest works in the String Quartet genre:

1. String Quartet No.16 in E Flat, K428, by Mozart

Mozart composed 23 string quartets. The six “Haydn” Quartets were written in Vienna during the years 1782 to 1785. They are dedicated to Joseph Haydn, considered the creator of the String Quartet form, as it has been known since his day. Haydn first heard the six quartets dedicated to him by Mozart at two gatherings at Mozart’s home in 1785. After hearing them all, Haydn made the now-famous remark to Mozart’s father Leopold, who was visiting from Salzburg:

“Before God, and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. He has taste, and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition.”

After that, any further comment is superfluous. The Quartet we shall hear tonight, K428, was composed in 1783, and is the 3rd in the “Haydn” series. Sit back and hear it for yourselves!

2.  String Quartet in F major, Op. 77, No. 2 by Josef Haydn

The Quartet in F major, Op. 77, No. 2, Haydn’s very last complete quartet, is filled with the vigour of a far younger composer but with the craft of an experienced and confident composer. It was finished in 1799, eight years after the death of Mozart.


The first movement’s simple and graceful main theme is unhurriedly developed in Haydn’s masterful fashion. The inner movements reverse their usual order, with the Minuet as the second movement. Haydn, rarely missing a chance to display his sense of humour, plays jokes with rhythm in a peasant dance theme while keeping us guessing about the meter, including a few “wrong beat” entrances. The beautiful third movement, Andante, begins with a stately duet between the first violin and the cello, and the theme is then being passed between the instruments. The last movement, marked Vivace, is a spirited folk dance. The quartet is often identified by a nickname,“Wait Till the Clouds Roll By,” which was a popular song of the late 1800s. Haydn wrote over 80 string quartets, so people often identified the quartets by nicknames not chosen by the composer!


In addition to these main works, the concert will be leavened by Hugo Wolf’s brief “Italian Serenade”, a 7-minute piece of sheer delight!

When booking your places, please note (i) several advance bookings have already been made (in the usual way) by audience members at last Saturday’s concert; and (ii) String Quartets take up more floor-space than soloists, duos or trios, and this obviously affects the number of seats we are able to accommodate. 


Therefore please let me have your reservations as soon as possible – it was necessary to have a waiting-list for last Saturday’s concert, but there were no cancellations! 

Make the evening a real treat – arrive at 6.15 to enjoy Anita’s beautiful garden with a pre-concert glass of wine or fruit juice. As usual, the concert will be followed by a light buffet. For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.

And a final note: although this will be our first post-freedom-day concert, we shall nevertheless maintain our policy of keeping an ample circulation of fresh air throughout the evening.


With much appreciation of your continued support for upholding Maxability’s role in society, we hope to see you soon.

Indira and Francis Grier – 3 July 2021

As I write, at 4.45pm on 5th June 2021, our wobbly release from lockdown strictures, scheduled for 21 June, remains intact!
 
I am therefore delighted to invite you to the first full live-performance that we are staging for Maxability after an eighteen-month musical desert!

Programme:
Beethoven – Sonata for ‘Cello & Piano, No 3 in A Major, Op 69
Brahms – Sonata for ‘Cello & Piano No 2 in F Major, Op 99 
Schumann – Adagio and Allegro for ‘Cello & Piano, Op 70
György Ligeti – Solo Sonata for ‘Cello

Musicians: Indira Grier (‘Cello) and Francis Grier (Piano)

The Music

The Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann works are firmly established in the supreme firmament of classical chamber music – they require only to be heard, and heard again! The Ligeti Sonata, by contrast, will be unknown to most of you but is in its own way no less special. György Ligeti (1923–2006) was a survivor of both Nazi and Soviet repression – he and his wife fled their native Hungary on foot following the brutal 1956 Russian suppression of nascent Hungarian liberties. Born into a Jewish family, he came to music relatively late, beginning piano lessons at the age of 14, his early influences being the nationalistic works of Bartok and Kodaly.

The Musicians

Francis Grier and his daughters Indira and Savitri will be known to most of our audience. They have performed at Maxability concerts in every year since their inception 13 years ago. However, now that Savitri lives in Berlin we see her less regularly – but this affords us a wonderful opportunity, like tonight, to get to know the extraordinarily rich world of ‘Cello/Piano compositions.

Make the evening a real treat – arrive at 6.30 to enjoy the beautiful garden with a pre-concert glass of wine. As usual, the concert will be followed by a light buffet. For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.

Please note: I hope that this will not happen, but in the event that audience-size restrictions will be re-imposed, the first 35 applicants for places will have priority. My advice is therefore to submit your booking promptly.

Needless to say, it’s been a tough time for all of us, but survival instincts are bolstered by great music – and that’s why we are here. Love to you all.

Piano Duets – Rachmaninov and Schubert

We are delighted to offer you our recording of a beautiful Piano Duet concert, performed at Greenacre on 17 April by Zrinka and Andrew Bottrill, of two major works by Schubert and Rachmaninov, with a short Scherzo by Dora Pejačević in between.

There are no vocal introductions, but there is a detailed printed sheet of the programme and explanatory notes on each work clearly visible when you begin the viewing. Please listen particularly to the Minor/Major transition that occurs in the slow second subject of the Schubert, and each time it is repeated. Note also the theme in the final section of the Rachmaninov – if it sounds familiar, that’s because Rachmaninov incorporated it from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at the Exhibition”. We are sure you’ll enjoy it!

Please note that Zrinka and Andrew declined to accept payment, generously donating this performance to Maxability. We are truly grateful to them.

To buy access to this remarkable concert recording, please send us a booking email, and we will send you the bank transfer details to make your donation of £15, followed by a link to view the concert video. Should you prefer to donate via PayPal, please visit our donations page.

Many thanks, as ever, for your support.

Piano Duet – Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

We are delighted to announce Maxability’s online concert for February 2021: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, transcribed for Piano Duet by the composer Franz-Xaver Scharwenka and brilliantly performed by Tessa Uys anbd Ben Schoeman. Read on for details about how to access this remarkable recording.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Opus 125, was premiered to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience in Vienna in May 1824, three years before the composer’s death. All nine Beethoven Symphonies have been faithfully transcribed for Piano Duet by Franz-Xaver Scharwenka. Tessa Uys and Ben Schoeman are currently preparing performances of the entire set, which Maxability will offer as YouTube videos as they become available. 

In an age when CDs, iPods, Spotify and YouTube were unknown, and live concerts had been the prerogative of the wealthy, transcriptions like the ones in today’s performance reflected what most people in the 19th century knew of this and, indeed, of countless other orchestral masterworks.  To quote Tessa and Ben:

“Working on the 9 Symphonies transcribed by Franz Xaver Scharwenka has been a journey of exploration and inspiration. To be able to hear and discover the intricate weaving of all the internal harmonies and melodic lines that one knows are there, but that tend to get submerged in a large orchestral ensemble, has been a revelation.”

Scharwenka travelled widely as a piano virtuoso and scored a considerable success in England in both this capacity and that of composer. Scharwenka was an inspiring teacher, and a composer of symphonies, piano concerti and an opera, as well as a quantity of instrumental music, including the transcriptions for piano duet of all 9 Symphonies of Beethoven.

Our Performers

Tessa Uys was born in Cape Town and gave her first public performance at the age of seven. She first studied with her mother Helga Bassel. As a winner of several international prizes Tessa has performed in many different countries and broadcast frequently for the BBC. She has given recitals in the City of London and at Wigmore Hall. Since discovering Scharwenka’s transcriptions for four hands of all Beethoven’s Symphonies among her mother’s scores, Tessa and fellow South African Ben Schoeman have presented the 9th Symphony to great acclaim in the City of London and they have been invited to play the work in many other venues in London and beyond. 

Ben Schoeman has won prizes in international Piano competitions, and has given solo, chamber music and concerto performances in many of the world’s the most prestigious concert halls – including Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Cadogan, LSO St Luke’s, Queen Elizabeth Hall (in London), Carnegie Hall in New York, Konzerthaus in Berlin, and many other concert venues in Edinburgh, Lisbon, Turin, Milan, Bucharest and Ottawa, Canada. His solo album, featuring works of Franz Liszt, was released by TwoPianists Records. 

To buy access to this remarkable concert recording, please send us a booking email, and we will send you the bank transfer details to make your donation of £15, followed by a link to view the concert video.

Many thanks, as ever, for your support.

Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis

We were delighted to kick off 2021 with an exclusive concert recorded for us by the renowned folk-duo, Sam Kelly (Guitar) and Jamie Francis (Banjo). You will recall their performance for Maxability a few years ago, following which we were besieged with requests to invite them back. Their new concert for us includes several new folk-songs alongside some of their most popular pieces.

Sam and Jamie filmed this video especially for Maxability when they were in their studio recording their forthcoming album, and therefore the image and sound quality are excellent. For this we are extremely grateful to them.

To Book

To buy access to this remarkable concert recording, please send us a booking email, and we will send you the bank transfer details to make your donation of £15, followed by a link to view the concert video.

Background and reviews 

Multi-award-winning folk musicians Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis first met at university in Brighton in 2010 and started performing in Sussex as a duo, playing folk and blues songs. Over the years 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.

In non-Covid times, they play together throughout the UK at folk clubs, music venues and festivals, performing inventive interpretations of tunes and songs (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.

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’

Folkradio.co.uk

‘Superb banjo picking’

Folkall.blogspot.co.uk

Martino Tirimo: Beethoven Sonatas

Martino Tirimo, founder of the Rosamunde Piano Trio, has recorded an extra-special piano recital exclusively for Maxability. As we approached the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth on December 17th 2020, we were thrilled that Martino offered us the following inspired programme:

  1. 15 Variations with a Fugue in E flat major, Op.35, ‘Eroica’ 
  2. Sonata No.30 in E major, Op.109 
    [Vivace, ma non troppo – Adagio espressivo – Tempo I
    Adagio espressivo – Tempo I
    Prestissimo
    Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung] 
  3. Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 
    [Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato
    Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile] 

Covid-19 restrictions put a temporary stop to our live concerts, but this first-rate recording is superb compensation. The music has come out brilliantly, and the great Steinway sound comes through with exceptional clarity from first to last note. Our recording technicians have, I’m sure you will agree, done a very fine job.  

I ask those who are not familiar with these immortal works to believe me when I say that this is a truly exceptional opportunity, not to be missed!

As some of you know, in 2019 Martino completed his marathon recording on a Steinway concert grand, made over a 12-year period in the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, of every note that Beethoven wrote for solo piano – an unprecedented feat that has earned him world-wide acclaim. Here, to quote one example, is Damian Thompson, music critic of The Spectator. After reviewing the whole of the existing recorded output of Beethoven’s piano works, Thompson concludes:

“Here is a Waldstein, an Appasionata, a Hammerklavier and a final trilogy that match or surpass any recent competitors. It’s decades since a pianist has managed to convey such an overwhelming sense that we are listening to pure Beethoven. And there are 20 hours of it – surely the greatest recorded achievement of this anniversary year.

To buy access to this remarkable concert recording, please send us a booking email, and we will send you the bank transfer details to make your donation of £15, followed by a link to view the concert video.

Many thanks, as ever, for your support.

Piano Quartets – 29th February 2020

Our next concert, to be held on Saturday 29 February, at the usual time of 7pm, promises to be exceptional. It will be first time that we are offering the comparatively rare format of PIANO QUARTETS. 

We regularly host performances of String Quartets, Piano Trios, instrumental duos and soloists – but the great Piano Quartets have not been performed here… until now!

The Greenwich Piano Trio are Yoko Misumi (piano), Lana Trotovsek (violin) and Heather Tuach (cello) – they are of course well known to Maxability audiences. We are delighted that on this occasion they will be joined by Mariam Ruetschi (viola) in the following programme:

Mozart – Piano Quartet in E flat, K 493

This mature work shares a sense of relaxed grandeur with its contemporary Piano Concerto in E flat K 482, displaying a profusion of lyrical themes in the opening movement. The Larghetto second movement is intense and contains an impassioned development section and coda with unexpected twists. Mozart discarded two drafts of the finale’s theme before arriving at the gavotte-like version that satisfied him. The whole movement is laden with an abundance of graceful and piquant melody.

Brahms – Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op 25 (1861)

This quartet is almost orchestral in its texture, sense of colour, scope and range of expression. The finale’s unbridled gypsy music is the fullest expression of Brahms’s love of popular and exotic Hungarian idioms. It is no wonder that Arnold Schoenberg was tempted to give these tendencies full rein when he arranged the work for large orchestra in 1937! 

Mahler – Piano Quartet Movement in A Minor

This brief composition is an early, but deeply moving, work of Gustav Mahler. It is the intended first movement of a piano quartet that apparently was never completed. It is the only surviving piece of chamber music without voice composed by Mahler. 

Because the string players need space to perform, the maximum audience size will be 60. To avoid disappointment please do not delay. For full booking instructions, including suggested donations, please have a look at our concerts page.

We look forward to welcoming you on 29th February and thank you, as ever, for your kind support.