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25 April 2015, 7.30pm

Leighton House 12 Holland Park Rd , London W14 8LZ 

BOOK 'Wanderers: Byron, Liszt and Berlioz' HERE 

The Romantic Age was a good time to be a sensitive, lonely misfit. After the success of Goethe and Byron’s writings, young men – and occasionally young women – dreamed of cutting their ties with cosy bourgeois security and wandering freely, searching for some kind of spiritual truth that might give purpose to their being. Not all of them found it: for some, the truth lying in wait was only painful disillusionment. Others, however, realised that, as Marianne Moore put it, ‘the cure for loneliness is solitude’. Franz Liszt’s first set of Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) records what he found on his travels in Switzerland, the ‘images’ that ‘stirred deep emotions in my soul’. Berlioz’s symphony Harold in Italy (arranged by Liszt) shows Berlioz following in Harold’s footsteps, to the point where he could say, with Byron, ‘I live not in myself, but I become portion of that around me’. Violist Iakov Zats and pianist Vsevolod Dvorkin explore these two works, and Stephen Johnson provides the illustrative talk.

13 May 2015, 7.30pm

20th Century Theatre 291 Westbourne Grove , London W11 2QA 

Rachel Podger violin/director 

Brecon Baroque    

Illustrated talk by Richard Wigmore 


price includes wine and refreshemnts 


Handel  Trio Sonata Op 5 No 2 in D major HWV 397   

Trio Sonata Op 2 No 8 in G minor HWV 393 

Violin Sonata in A major, Op 1 No 3, HWV 361

Geminiani  Violin Sonata Op 4 No 8   

Purcell  Sonata in 4 parts No 6 in G minor Z.807  

12 Sonatas in 3 parts: No 6 in C major & No 3 in D minor 

Boyce Sonata No 1 in A minor    

Avison  Sonata for harpsichord, 2 violins and Cello Op 8 No 3 in D major   


In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries London was the most vibrant and cosmopolitan musical centre in Europe. Alongside music for theatre and chapel, a rich tradition of chamber music developed, whether for performance at court or in private salons. Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque, together with speaker Richard Wigmore, celebrate Baroque London’s musical pre-eminence in a programme of string sonatas ranging from Purcell’s intricate, inward-looking sonatas in 3 and 4 parts to the breezy tunefulness of William Boyce and Thomas Arne. En route they take in a flamboyant sonata by the expatriate Italian virtuoso Francesco Geminiani, and two captivating trio sonatas by Handel, the German émigré who inherited Purcell’s mantle as ‘England’s own Orpheus’. 

10 June 2015, 7.30pm

20th Century Theatre 291 Westbourne Grove , London W11 2QA 

Ferenc Rados piano  

Illustrated talk by Misha Donat 


price includes wine and refreshemnts 


Beethoven Piano Sonata in A flat major, Op. 26

Schubert Piano Sonata in D major, D850

Schubert composed his piano sonatas at a time when the genre was in decline, and public taste favoured much less demanding fare. Only the awe-inspiring figure of Beethoven was exempt from the appetite for what Schubert once dismissed as ‘miserable Mode-Waare (wretched fashionable stuff). As a composer of Lieder, dances and shorter piano pieces, Schubert had seen his fame spread far beyond the confines of Vienna, but when it came to compositions on a larger scale his ambitions were constantly thwarted. The extent of his artistic legacy was so little known to his contemporaries that the epitaph for his tombstone, written by Austria’s leading dramatist, Franz Grillparzer, lamented: ‘The art of music here buried a rich possession, but far fairer hopes.’ Beethoven’s funeral, some eighteen months before, had been a much more public affair, and Grillparzer had written an oration very different in tone: ‘The man who inherited and increased the immortal fame of Bach and Handel, of Haydn and Mozart, is no longer; and we stand weeping over the broken strings of an instrument now stilled.’

11 June 2015, 7.30pm

20th Century Theatre 291 Westbourne Grove , London W11 2QA 

Aleksei Kiseliov cello

Itamar Golan piano  

Illustrated talk by Iain Burnside  


price includes wine and refreshemnts 


Britten Cello Sonata, Op. 65

Shostakovich Cello Sonata, Op. 40

The catalyst was ‘Slava’, the charismatic cellist Mstislav Rostropovich: in 1960, at the height of the Cold War, he gave the UK premiere of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto, an event at which Britten met Shostakovich and Rostropovich for the first time. The two composers were both shy men, but recognised each other as kindred spirits as well as fellow artists. Britten’s immediate response was to pen his bold Sonata in C, in some ways a portrait of Slava, his courage, humour and suffering. Shostakovich’s own Cello Sonata dates from the creative crucible of his pre-war years when he was learning to subvert conventional forms in emotionally powerful ways. Britten said of Shostakovich, ‘no one composing today has equal influence on me’. Shostakovich responded by dedicating his Symphony No. 14 to Britten. Cellist Aleksei Kiseliov and pianist Itamar Golan perform these two masterpieces of the chamber repertoire.

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