2018

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Mozart, Schumann & the Tales of Hoffmann

DECEMBER 05, 2018. Bohemian National Hall

Mozart - String Quintet No. 4 in G minor, K. 516  
Schumann - Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44 
 

Philippe Quint, violin
Grace Park, violin
Zlatomir Fung, cello
Matthew Lipman, viola
Kyle Armbrust, viola
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano


Illustrated talk by Damian Fowler


‘One hardly dares breathe when reading Hoffmann,’ said Schumann of the great writer in whose work the borderlines between dream and reality, art and life, the natural and the supernatural so often become blurred. From Hoffmann, Schumann borrowed the titles of some of his best-known piano pieces – KreislerianaFantasiestückeNachtstücke – while the young Brahms signed some of his early compositions ‘Kreisler Junior’, in homage to the fictional musician created by the author. Hoffmann’s tales inspired ballets by Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker) and Delibes (Coppélia), as well as operas by Offenbach, Busoni (Die Brautwahl) and Hindemith (Cardillac). Hoffmann himself was also a composer, and his proto-Romantic opera Undine was praised by Weber. His influence as a writer, meanwhile, was felt as far afield as France, Russia and America, those who fell under his spell included Baudelaire (for whom he was simply ‘the divine Hoffmann’), Balzac and Maupassant, as well as Dostoevsky, Pushkin and  Gogol, and Edgar Allan Poe.


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BEETHOVEN. INTIMATE LETTERS

NOVEMBER 1, 2018. Italian Academy at Columbia University

Beethoven - String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 1
Beethoven - String Quartet, Op. 131

Ariel Quartet

Illustrated talk by the Ariel Quartet

Tonight we hear one of Beethoven’s earliest string quartets and one of his last. The six quartets of Opus 18 were published in 1801, and No. 6 is a high-spirited and warm-hearted piece. The first theme of the first movement starts with a conversation between the first violin and cello, and though the last movement contains a brief passage labelled La malinconia (‘to be played,’ he wrote, ‘with the utmost delicacy’) which looks forward to his later style, it also evokes a merry ballroom or country dance.

Twenty-five years later, ill, deaf, and desperately worried about his beloved nephew Karl, Beethoven finished Opus 131: seven movements to be played without a break. ‘A new manner of part-writing,’ he wrote to a friend.

Contemporary audiences were not ready for such music, which continues to inspire composers even today. Schumann recognised its genius. Opus 131, he said, stood ‘on the extreme boundary of all that [had] hitherto been attained by human art and imagination’. Schubert, too, understood its place in history. ‘After this, what is left for us to write?’ he asked. But most people, even other musicians, were bewildered. ‘We know there is something there,’ said one, ‘but we do not know what it is.’ Louis Spohr described the late quartets as ‘indecipherable, uncorrected horrors’.

Of all them, Opus 131 was Beethoven’s own favourite. He thought it his most perfect single work and dedicated it to Baron Joseph von Stutterheim in gratitude for his taking Karl into the army after the latter’s suicide attempt.

What was going on in the composer’s life when he wrote it? How did this lonely, haunted man perfect his extraordinary journey into the quartet form: a form full of conversation, human togetherness, social harmony and integration, which sums up the inter-relationship of different voices? How did he move from the Classical balance of Opus 18 to the grandeur, avant-garde daring and unspeakable sorrow of Opus 131? Join us as we explore the possible answers to these questions and more.

©Ruth Padel

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ZEMLINSKY, JANACEK, DVORAK and their muses

OCTOBER 16, 2018. Bohemian National Hall

Zemlinsky - Quartet No. 1
Janáček - String Quartet No. 2 “Intimate Letters” 
Dvořák - Love Songs   

Zemlinsky Quartet

Illustrated talk by Nicholas Chong

Love, requited or otherwise, can spark the creation of great music. In 1865, Antonín Dvořák’s feelings for Josefína Čermáková inspired the song-cycle Cypresses. His love was unrequited, but years later he arranged some of the songs for string quartet, creating a set of exquisite miniatures. Leoš Janáček was sixty-three when he fell for the much younger Kamila Stösslová; the String Quartet No. 2, ‘Intimate Letters’, is the last work he completed, but sounds like the music of a young man, overflowing with life and yearning. Alexander Zemlinsky’s later music explores his grief at losing Alma Schindler, but his First String Quartet – written shortly before they met – shows him in happier mood, unaware of the heartbreak to come. 

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FETE GALANTE: THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY

MAY 17, 2018. Italian Academy

Leclair - Second Musical Recreation      
Clérambault - L'Isle de Délos
Devienne - Trio for flute, violin and cello in G minor
Telemann - Paris Quartet No.5 in A major   

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Four Nations Ensemble:
Kathie Stewart, flute
Olivier Brault, violin
Jaap Terlinden, viola da gamba and cello
Adam Cockerham, lute
Andrew Appel, harpsichord

Illustrated talk by Tav Holmes

Out of the dark final years of the reign of Louis XIV came a new style of art characterized by freshness, elegance and sensuality. While Versailles was draped in the heavy fabrics of guilt and failure, penance and penitence, Antoine Watteau was breaking with tradition, creating the new genre of the fête galante. His delicate brushstrokes and mastery of color and nuance are echoed in the music of his contemporary François Couperin. As art historian Tav Holmes guides us through the unique, idealized world of Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, the Four Nations Ensemble and soprano Sherezade Panthaki will perform works of equally evocative beauty by Leclair, Clérambault, Devienne, and Telemann.

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J.S. BACH. THE ART OF FUGUE

APRIL 12, 2018. Italian Academy

Fretwork
Illustrated talk by Richard Boothby

J.S. Bach - Art of Fugue

Counterpoint was a constant preoccupation throughout J.S. Bach's life and The Art of Fugue, one of his last works, was the culmination of this lifelong obsession. It has long been supposed that the composer's death interrupted its completion, yet recently other possibilities and theories have been suggested. Richard Boothby presents an illustrated performance with his group Fretwork, whose celebrated recording of this remarkable work is their best-selling album, and discusses some of the music's most intriguing features. The evening will conclude with an analysis of the final fugue and a performance of a possible reconstruction of its missing final bars.

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WEIMAR: THE CRADLE OF MUSICAL TALENT

APRIL 19, 2018. Italian Academy

Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Sergey Antonov, cello

Illustrated Talk by Stephen Johnson

Bach - Cello Suite No.1 in G major
Mendelssohn - Cello Sonata No.2 in D. major
Liszt - Piano Sonata in B minor

Whatever Weimar may have come to symbolize in the twentieth century, it was once a beacon of culture. In 1816, Grand Duke Carl August (1775-1828) defied the Congress of Viennas conservative absolutism and founded a liberal constitution in Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. The twelve-year-old Mendelssohn visited Weimar five years later, making a huge impression on the eminent writer Goethe, one of Carl Augusts privy counselors. In 1842, Liszt was appointed court composer. Long before all this, Bach had served as court organist at Weimar. Alongside performances of some of these three composers finest instrumental works, this concert examines the Golden Age of a city that became a place of refuge in troubled times.

Photos and Videos


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TANEYEV AND ARENSKY: IN TCHAIKOVSKY'S SHADOW

FEBRUARY 7, 2018. Bohemian National Hall

Alexander Kobrin, piano
Philippe Quint, violin
Milena Pajaro van de Stadt, viola
Zlatomir Fung, cello
Brook Speltz, cello
Ji in Yang, violin
Illustrated talk by Damian Fowler

Taneyev - Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 30
Arensky - String Quartet No. 2 in A minor

Blazing stars such as Tchaikovsky risk eclipsing less sensational talents, but these more modest figures can have their moments of greatness too. Anton Arensky's Quartet, composed in memory of Tchaikovsky, is for an ensemble of single violin, viola and two cellos, giving the sound a haunting dark richness. Quotations from Orthodox chants and from Tchaikovsky's song 'Legend' suggest a prayer for the composers soul, but the outcome is joyous and celebratory. Tchaikovsky's pupil Sergei Taneyev is sometimes called 'the Russian Brahms'. He cherished Classicism and intricate counterpoint and set his face against populist emotionalism. His Piano Quintet is powerful and purposeful, however, and its sense of heroic determination is ultimately very moving.

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2017

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SCHUBERT: OCTET

DECEMBER 14, 2017. Bohemian National Hall

Ying Quartet
Joseph Anderer, horn
William Short, bassoon
Alexander Bedenko, clarinet
Brendan Kane, double bass
Illustrated talk by Misha Donat

Schubert - Octet

No piece by Schubert pays clearer homage to his greatest contemporary, Beethoven, than his Octet  one of his most irresistibly exuberant chamber works. It was commissioned by Count Ferdinand Troyer, amateur clarinetist and chief steward to Beethovens pupil and patron Archduke Rudolph of Austria. Troyer wanted a piece modeled on Beethovens Septet, Op. 20, and Schubert duly scored his music for an almost identical ensemble. He also mirrored Beethovens six-movement scheme  even prefacing each of the outer movements with a slow introduction. And as in the Beethoven, the works centerpiece is a set of variations. This being Schubert, the variation theme comes from one of his vocal compositions: a duet in a Singspiel he had composed at the age of eighteen.

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TOLSTOY AND MUSIC: KREUTZER SONATA

NOVEMBER 16, 2017. Italian Academy

Ariel Quartet
Mark Steinberg, violin
Ignat Solzhenitsyn, piano
Illustrated talk by Ignat Solzhenitsyn

Beethoven - Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 Kreutzer Sonata
Tchaikovsky - String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11
Janacek - String Quartet No. 1 Kreutzer Sonata

Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata" for violin and piano (dedicated to Rodolphe Kreutzer, a French violinist who never performed it) is the centerpiece of Tolstoy's disturbing and controversial novel, "The Kreutzer Sonata." The novel in turn inspired the Czech composer, Leo Janácek, to write his eponymous, intense and feverish first string quartet.

Tolstoy, deeply responsive to music, had a particular passion for folk music (the second movement of Tchaikovsky's first quartet, based on a folk song from Tolstoy's childhood, brought tears to his eyes). However, he was highly selective about the works of Western composers. While Tolstoy admired Beethoven and was captivated by his music, he was also of the view that the composer had brought about the decline of musical art.


The musical narrative of Janácek's String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata", seems to mirror the unfolding marital tragedy of Tolstoy's novel, while the third movement of the quartet is modelled on the second theme of Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata."

Join us as we explore the unique connections between music and literature, and witness music become, in Tolstoy's words, "a shorthand of feelings."

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HAYDN, BEETHOVEN, SCHUBERT: KINDRED SPIRITS

OCTOBER 26, 2017. Italian Academy

Endellion String Quartet
Illustrated talk by David Waterman

Haydn - String Quartet in G major, Op. 54 No. 1
Beethoven - String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127
Schubert - Quartettsatz in C minor, D703

This concert, featuring three exceptional works for string quartet, will explore the extent to which Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert, whose lives overlapped in Vienna at the turn of the nineteenth century, were kindred spirits. Schuberts Quartettsatz, the first movement of an unfinished quartet, contains an achingly beautiful melody set off by an underlying sense of fear and tragedy. By contrast, Haydns G major Quartet, Op. 54 No. 1 reveals its composer at his most good-natured and genial, while also embracing a a slow movement of searching profundity. Beethovens Op. 127 is a work of radiance and lyricism whose second-movement variations encompass everything from playfulness to prayer.

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WINDS OF CHANGE: VIENNA, ST. PETERSBURG, PARIS

MAY 17, 2017. Italian Academy

Benjamin Hochman, piano
Joseph Anderer, horn
Alexander Bedenko, clarinet
William Short, bassoon
Anna Urrey, flute
Katherine Needleman, oboe
Illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson

Mozart - Quintet in E flat major for piano and winds, K452
Rimsky-Korsakov - Quintet in B flat major
Poulenc - Sextet for piano and wind quintet, Op. 100

Three masterpieces of the chamber wind repertoire by three epoch-making composers. Mozarts sublime Quintet, K452, in his own opinion  the best work I ever composed, combines the essence of Viennese Classicism with the composers distinctive operatic magnificence. Rimsky-Korsakov, one of the five composers who made up St Petersburgs Mighty Handful, brought his experience as an Inspector of Russias naval bands to bear on his writing for winds and brass. His exuberant and brilliantly colourful Quintet in B flat is all too rarely heard. The concert ends with Poulenc, leading member of Les Six, the unconventional group of composers active in 1920s Paris. All his flamboyant wit and wistful poetry is captured in the Sextet, Op. 100.

Photos and Videos


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CLARA SCHUMANN: ARTIST AND MUSE

APRIL 19, 2017. Italian Academy

Stephanie Chase, violin
Sophie Shao, cello
Todd Crow, piano
Illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson

Robert Schumann - Five Pieces in Folk Style for cello and piano, Op. 102
Johannes Brahms - Sonata in G major for violin and piano, Op. 78
Clara Schumann - Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17

Clara Schumann (Clara Wieck) - virtuoso pianist and composer, wife of Robert Schumann, mother, teacher, friend and inspiration to many of her contemporaries - played many roles during the course of her life. She became one of the greatest performers of the century alongside Thalberg, Chopin, Rubinstein and Liszt, the latter dedicating both his 1838 and 1851 editions to her as one of the finest contemporary pianists. Clara was Schumann's muse and musical voice, creative partner and interpreter of his work. As a celebrated performer, she was able to promote her husbands works. Clara was the inspiration and guide for much of the music of Brahms, who fell hopelessly in love with her as a young man. As with Schumann, she shared in the genius of Brahms, who in his own words described his relationship with her as  the most beautiful experience of my life, its greatest wealth and its noblest content. Clara maintained an inspiring friendship with Mendelssohn, who had the highest regard for her as a musician, and dedicated some of his music to her. Clara, in turn, included at least one of Mendelssohns works in almost every recital she gave during her long career as a concert pianist. 
Along with Claras own music, this programme presents music composed by the men for whom she was friend, love, and inspiration. Join us to get a glimpse of the woman behind the Muse.

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PRAGUE: CZECH ROMANTICS

FEBRUARY 23, 2017. Italian Academy

Arnaud Sussmann, violin
Michael Brown, piano
Illustrated talk by Nicholas Chong

Smetana - From My Homeland Op. 128
Suk - 4 Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op.17
Janáek - Violin Sonata
Dvoák - Romantic Pieces, Op. 75

Smetana gave voice to the Czech desire for independence, so long yoked under the Habsburg Empire. But, away from his triumphantly nationalist operas and tone poems, in his quartets we encounter the fevered imagination of an artist fighting for his sanity. His example inspired Antonin Dvorák to bring Bohemian and Moravian elements into his own warmly vivacious chamber music, creating an outpouring of dance and song. In this programme we look at the emergence of a new nationalist identity in the rising city of Prague, as it cast off its Germanic traits, and explore the light and dark sides of the great Romantic figures.

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ROMANTIC VIENNA

JANUARY 26, 2017. Italian Academy

Arnaud Sussmann, violin
Emily Daggett Smith, violin
Paul Neubauer, viola
Rafael Figueroa, cello
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson

Schubert Arpeggione Sonata,D821
Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34

From the time of Gluck in the mid-eighteenth century to that of Mahler and Schoenberg in the early twentieth, Vienna was the capital of capitals as far as music was concerned. If a composer could make it there, he truly could make it anywhere.  Amongst the composers of genius attracted to the city were Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Richard Strauss and Lehar, not to mention such native sons as Schubert and Johann Strauss. In no other city was music quite so central to its life, or musical intrigues quite so poisonous! In our Romantic Vienna programme we shall be exploring the music and art of the Romantic period. We will present the music of Schubert and Brahms, the Romantic classics. Both Schubert and Brahms composed in the traditional forms established by the great classical Viennese trinity: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, but the content of their music is highly Romantic. While Schubert's music (like that of the later Beethoven) heralds the dawn of Romanticism, that of Brahms brings on the dusk.

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2016

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BACH AND MOZART: A LASTING LEGACY

OCTOBER 5, 2016. Italian Academy

Dmitry Sitkovetsky, violin
Dov Scheindlin, viola
Sergey Antonov, cello
Ignat Solzhenitsyn, piano
Illustrated talk by Paul Berry

Mozart - Prelude and Fugue in D minor for string trio, K404a No. 1
J.S. Bach - Fifteen Sinfonias, BWV 787801 (arr. D. Sitkovetsky)
Mozart - Piano Quartet in E flat major, K493

When, in 1781, Mozart broke with his hated patron the Archbishop of Salzburg and settled in Vienna, he began to look to the future, but it turned out to be an encounter with the past that would particularly fire his creativity. At the home of Baron Gottfried van Swieten he heard and was deeply impressed by the music of his great predecessors Bach and Handel. This concert gives an insight into what Mozart learned from Bach in particular, and shows how, through the alchemy of genius, he transformed those lessons into something utterly personal and profoundly far-reaching. It is a chance to enter the unique mind of Mozart, and to hear some wonderful music by both master and disciple.

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2015

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BRITTEN AND SHOSTAKOVICH: A REMARKABLE FRIENDSHIP

JUNE 11, 2015. 20th Century Theatre, London

Aleksei Kiseliov, cello
Itamar Golan, piano
Illustrated talk by Iain Birnside

Britten - Cello Sonata, Op. 65
Shostakovich - Cello Sonata, Op. 40

The catalyst was ‘Slava’, the charismatic cellist Mstislav Rostropovich: at the height of the Cold War he introduced Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten to each other at the UK premiere of the former’s first Cello Concerto. Both were shy, but recognised a fellow artist, spiritually in sympathy. 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 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.

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SCHUBERT: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BEETHOVEN

JUNE 10, 2015. 20th Century Theatre, London

Ferenc Rados, piano
Illustrated talk by Misha Donat

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.’

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BAROQUE LONDON. MUSIC FOR COURT AND SALON

MAY 13, 2015. 20th Century Theatre, London

Rachel Podger director/violin
Brecon Baroque
Illustrated talk by Richard Wigmore

Handel - Trio Sonata in D major, Op. 5 No. 2, HWV 397
Handel - Trio Sonata in G minor, Op. 2 No. 8, HWV 393
Handel - Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 1 No. 3, HWV 361
Geminiani - Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 4 No. 8
Purcell - 10 Sonatas in 4 parts: No. 6 in G minor, Z807in E flat major 12 Sonatas of 3 parts: No. 6 in C major, Z795; No. 3 in D minor, Z792
Boyce - Sonata No. 1 in A minorAvison Sonata for harpsichord, 2 violins and cello in D major, Op. 8 No. 3

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’.

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WANDERERS: BYRON, LISZT AND BERLIOZ

APRIL 25, 2015. Leighton House Museum, London

Iakov Zats, viola
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson

Liszt - Années de pèlerinage. Première année: Suisse
Berlioz, arr. Liszt - Harold en Italie

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’.

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WINDS OF CHANGE: VIENNA, ST. PETERSBURG, PARIS

MARCH 26, 2015. 20th Century Theatre, London

Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Jasmine Choi, flute
Alexander Bedenko, clarinet
Timothy Rundle, oboe
Laura Vincent, bassoon
Geremia Iezzi, horn
Illustrated talk by Richard Wigmore

Mozart - Quintet in E flat major for piano and winds, K452
Rimsky-Korsakov - Quintet in B flat major
Poulenc - Sextet for piano and wind quintet, Op. 100

Three masterpieces of the chamber wind repertoire by three epoch-making composers. Mozart’s sublime Quintet, K452, in his own opinion ‘… the best work I ever composed’, combines the essence of Viennese Classicism with the composer’s distinctive operatic magnificence. Rimsky-Korsakov, ‘chief architect’ of St Petersburg’s ‘Mighty Handful’, brought his experience as an Inspector of Russia’s naval bands to bear on his writing for winds and brass. His exuberant and brilliantly colourful Quintet in B flat is all too rarely heard. The concert ends with Poulenc, leading member of ‘Les Six’, the unconventional group of composers active in 1920s Paris. All his flamboyant wit and wistful poetry is captured in the Sextet, Op. 100.

Photos and Videos


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BELLINI AND CHOPIN: WEEPING IN SONG

MARCH 2, 2015. Leighton House Museum, London

Gyula Rab, tenor
Aldemir Tokov, piano
Thomas Harris, piano
Yekaterina Lebedeva, piano
Illustrated talk by Patrick Bade

Chopin - Polish Songs: Op. 74 Nos. 1, 2 & 3
Chopin - Scherzo No. 3; Nocturne, Op. 27 No. 2; Ballade No. 1
Liszt - Tre sonetti di Petrarca
Liszt - Sonetto di Petrarca No. 104; Paraphrase on Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’
Bellini - I puritani: ‘A te, o cara’
Verdi - Rigoletto: ‘Ella mi fu rapita! … Parmi veder le lagrime’

It was inevitable that the Sicilian Vincenzo Bellini (1801–35), whose musical ideal was ‘weeping in song’, and the Polish-born Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49), who understood better than any other composer how to make the piano weep and sing, should sincerely admire one another. Both men died at an early age, but their quintessentially Romantic music, characterised above all by extended and expressive melodic lines, continued to exert an influence throughout the nineteenth century– one that can be heard in the work of such disparate composers as Verdi, Liszt and Wagner, and even in the later, verista operas of Giordano, Cilea and Orefice. This concert, in the sympathetic surroundings of Leighton House, will explore both the relationship between Chopin and Bellini and the far-reaching impact of their music.

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BEETHOVEN. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF QUARTET MAKING

FEBRUARY 25, 2015. 20th Century Theatre, London

The Endellion String Quartet
Poetry by Ruth Padel

Beethoven - String Quartets, Op. 18 No. 6 & Op. 131

This concert features one of Beethoven’s earliest string quartets and one of his last. His Opus 18 was published in 1801, and No. 6 is a high-spirited and warm-hearted piece. Twenty-five years later, the composer completed his Opus 131: seven movements to be played without a break. Although the quartet received a mixed response from his contemporaries, Beethoven himself thought it his most perfect single work. What was going on in his life when he wrote it? How did this lonely, haunted man perfect his extraordinary journey into the quartet form, one full of conversation, human togetherness, social harmony and integration? How did he move from the Classical balance of Op. 18 to the grandeur, avant-garde daring and unspeakable sorrow of Op. 131? The Endellions perform the two quartets, framing readings by poet Ruth Padel of new works that meditate on the time and circumstances of their creation.

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INFERNAL POWERS

FEBRUARY 2, 2015. Leighton House Museum, London

Danilo Mascetti, piano
Illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson

Liszt - Grandes Études de Paganini, S141; 12 Lieder von Franz Schubert, S558 (selection)
Pabst - Illustrations of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Queen of Spades’ Stravinsky - The Firebird (excerpts)

Stellar composer-virtuosos Liszt and Paganini were both accused of being in league with the Devil. Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird includes a vivid portrayal of infernal powers, while Tchaikovsky’s opera The Queen of Spades tells chillingly of a pact made between the living and the dead. Join us as Danilo Mascetti brings his own brand of magic to these scintillating scores.

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BERLIN: THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

JANUARY 24, 2015. 20th Century Theatre, London

Rachel Brown, flute
Madeleine Easton, violin
Richard Boothby, viola da gamba
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Illustrated talk by Norman Lebrecht

C.P.E. Bach - Sonata in D major for viola da gamba and harpsichord, Wq. 88
Benda - Sonata XI in D major for violin and basso continuo
Quantz - Trio Sonata in A minor, QV 2:Anh. 34
Frederick II (‘the Great’) of Prussia - Sonata in C major for flute and basso continuo, SpiF 40
J.S. Bach - Trio Sonata in C minor from The Musical Offering, BWV 1079

What makes Berlin a musical city? Is it the fact that it boasts ‘the world’s finest orchestra’, or the greatest number of world-class opera houses in one city, or the most diverse alternative music scene? Is it the combination of all three? Or maybe none of the above? In the opening concert of ASPECT’s spring season, Norman Lebrecht will discuss what it takes to be a musical capital and examine how Berlin went from garrison town to cultural hub. The history is more complicated than it seems. Award-winning harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani explores Berlin’s musical origins from the roots up: from Frederick the Great’s musical consolations, the musicians and great minds he gathered around him, and those he drove away. Where was J.S. Bach when Germany really needed him?

Photos and Videos


2014

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SCHUMANN AND FRAURE: KINDRED SPIRITS

DECEMBER 4, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

Philippe Graffin, violin
David Adams, viola
David Waterman, cello
Alasdair Beatson, piano
Illustrated talk by the performers

Schumann - Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 63
Fauré - Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 45

Gabriel Fauré came of age in a France fighting for its cultural identity. His own admired teacher Saint-Saëns led the charge in trying to create a non-Germanic music tradition, aided by Chabrier, D’Indy, then Debussy and Ravel. But it was also Saint-Saëns who introduced the young Fauré to the piano music of Schumann. A century later, Schumann’s music, alone among the German Romantics, sits naturally alongside French music, and finds a special resonance in Fauré’s own art, sharing its fluidity, inwardness and subtlety. Here, distinguished musicians Philippe Graffin, David Waterman and Alasdair Beatson illustrate the musical links between these two elusive artists, performing Schumann’s intense D minor Trio, and Fauré’s Second Piano Quartet, a work of rare, ecstatic expression.

Photos and Videos


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PRAGUE: CZECH ROMANTICS

NOVEMBER 5, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

Zemlinsky Quartet
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Illustrated talk by Iain Burnside

Pre-concert talk by Patrick Bade

Dvořák - Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81
Smetana - String Quartet No. 2 in D minor

Smetana gave voice to the desire for independence of his fellow Czechs, so long yoked under the Habsburg Empire. His quartets, however, are a world away from his triumphantly nationalist operas and tone poems: in them we encounter the fevered imagination of an artist fighting for his sanity. Smetana’s example inspired his compatriot Dvořák to bring Bohemian and Moravian elements into his own warmly vivacious chamber music, creating an outpouring of dance and song. In this concert, broadcaster and pianist Iain Burnside looks at the emergence of a new nationalist identity in the rising city of Prague as it cast off its Germanic traits and, together with the Zemlinsky Quartet, explores the light and dark sides of these two great Romantic composers.

Photos and Videos


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PARIS: AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

OCTOBER 14, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Kati Debretzeni, violin  
Richard Boothby, viola da gamba  
Illustrated talk by Philipp Blom

Marais - La Sonnerie de Ste Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris (The Bells of St Genevieve)
Leclair - Sonata in C minor, Op. 5, No. 6 'Le Tombeau'
Rameau - Concerts Nos. 3 & 5 from the Pièces de clavecin en concerts
A. Forqueray - La Forqueray, La Leclair, La Rameau
from the Pièces de viole avec la basse continue
C.P.E. Bach - Keyboard Sonata in F sharp minor, Wq 52/4

Paris circa 1770: home to the brilliant philosopher, writer and chief editor of the Encyclopédie Denis Diderot ¬– one of the most courageous advocates of a radical, godless Enlightenment. He and other like-minded intellectuals would meet at the salon of Baron d’Holbach to discuss how best to lead lives of passion and empathy, to indulge in fervent debates about opera, and to listen to chamber music – Diderot himself saw music as a direct route into people’s hearts and minds.
In this concert, historian Philipp Blom, in company with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and friends, will investigate Diderot’s close relationship with music, interspersing period-instrument performances of chamber works by Marais, Rebel, Rameau, Forqueray and C.P.E. Bach – compositions that resonated through his life – with readings from his letters, essays and novels.

Photos and Videos


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ALMA MAHLER: MUSE OR MONSTER?

OCTOBER 1, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

Olivia Ray, mezzo-soprano
Ania Safonova, violin
Oleg Kogan, cello
Ronan O'Hora, piano
Illustrated talk by Patrick Bade

Alma Mahler - ‘Laue Sommernacht’ from 5 Lieder; ‘Der Erkennende’ and ‘Lobgesang’ from 5 Gesänge
Zemlinsky - ‘Irmelin Rose’ from Irmelin Rose und andere Gesänge, Op. 7
Gustav Mahler - ‘Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht’ and ‘Ging heut’ morgen über’s Feld’ from Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Zemlinsky - Three Pieces for cello and piano (1891) 
Korngold - Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 1

It was the litany of lovers and husbands in what he described as ‘the juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary that it has ever been my pleasure to read,’ that inspired Tom Lehrer’s famous song about Alma Mahler, whose lyrics include the lines “Her lovers were many and varied, from the day she began her beguine. There were three famous ones whom she married, and God knows how many between.” Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel was not one of those celebrated beauties who retained her allure into old age. Colour film footage of her from the 1950s presents a raddled and formidable matron. In photographs taken of her in her prime, we can admire her flawless profile and magnificent bosom. Were these features enough to fascinate a small army of gifted men? In an evening of chamber music and songs, including some by the lady herself, we shall explore the enigma of Alma Mahler and the impact she had on the culture and music of her time.

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SCHUMANN'S PIANO CYCLES AND THE NOVELS OF JEAN PAUL

JUNE 25, 2014. lLeighton House Museum, London

Susan Tomes, piano  
Illustrated talk by Robert Philip

Schumann - Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6; Papillons, Op. 2

The son of a bookseller and publisher, Robert Schumann was inspired as much by literature as by music. Of all the authors he esteemed, his favourite was Jean Paul Richter. He once wrote to a friend that, from Jean Paul ‘I learned more about counterpoint than from my music teacher’. What was it about this (now unfashionable) writer that so appealed to the young Schumann? And what was the nature of this ‘counterpoint’ that he learned from him? The music presented in this programme is intimately connected with Jean Paul, and in particular with his novel Die Flegeljahre (The Awkward Age). Between the two works, we will explore how Schumann brought the fantasy of Jean Paul together with his own emotional experience (particularly his forbidden relationship with Clara Wieck) to develop a unique character as musician and writer.

Photos and Videos


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BARON VAN SWIETEN: PATRON AND MUSE OF THE CLASSICS

JUNE 3, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

Alexey Lundin, violin  
Alexei Kiseliov, cello
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson

J.S. Bach - Cello Suite in G major, BWV 1007 (Prelude)
Handel - Violin Sonata in D major, HWV 371
C.P.E. Bach - Sonata No. 3 from Sonaten, Wq 57
Mozart - Violin Sonata No. 35 in A major, K526
Haydn - Trio No. 44 in E major, Hob. XV:28

In most music history books he’s a shadowy figure - if he’s mentioned at all. But without the Baron Gottfried van Swieten, key works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven would have sounded quite different. Which means that the influence of those three giants on the later development of western classical music would have been very different too.
Who was this mysterious but clearly crucial figure? By all accounts, Baron van Swieten was a mass of contradictions. Stiff in bearing, pompous and patronizing in his dealings with mere musicians, acutely, even comically aware of his own minor aristocratic status, he could also be generous, insightful and loyal. He not only paid for Mozart’s funeral, but provided much-needed financial help for the composer’s widow and children. He may have looked down his nose at Haydn and Mozart, but for their work he had nothing but respect, magisterially silencing anyone who had the temerity to talk during one of their performances. 
Although his own efforts at composing were unimpressive, van Swieten’s recognition of the talents of others was unusually insightful. Apart from the three Viennese Titans, he also singled out Gluck and C.P.E. Bach. More importantly, he developed a very untypical passion for J.S.Bach and Handel, whose music was largely forgotten by the late Eighteenth Century. Van Swieten arranged and paid for performances of works by the baroque masters, and encouraged Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to play them, study them and imitate their contrapuntal skills. The results can be heard in the thrilling fugal ending of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, the colossal Grosse Fuge of Beethoven and the muscular polyphonic choruses of Haydn’s Creation - for which van Swieten also compiled the libretto. However there was more to all this than technique: what van Swieten felt he was offering these great composers was ‘food for the spirit and for the heart. And as those three above-mentioned masterpieces show, he was right.

Photos and Videos


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SCHUMANN AND THE TALES OF E.T.A. HOFFMANN

MAY 21, 2014. Leighton House Museum, London

Todd Crow, piano
Illustrated talk by Misha Donat

Hoffmann - Sonata in F minor, AV 27  
Schumann - Kreisleriana, Op. 16  
Brahms - Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann, Op. 9  
Busoni - Elegy No. 6: Erscheinung (Notturno)  
Tchaikovsky - Concert Suite from the ballet 'The Nutcracker' (transcr. Pletnev)

‘One hardly dares breathe when reading Hoffmann,’ said Schumann of the great writer in whose work the borderlines between dream and reality, art and life, the natural and the supernatural so often become blurred. From Hoffmann, Schumann borrowed the titles of some of his best-known piano pieces – Kreisleriana, Fantasiestücke, Nachtstücke – while the young Brahms signed some of his early compositions ‘Kreisler Junior’, in homage to the fictional musician created by the author. Hoffmann’s tales inspired ballets by Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker) and Delibes (Coppélia), as well as operas by Offenbach, Busoni (Die Brautwahl) and Hindemith (Cardillac). Hoffmann himself was also a composer, and his proto-Romantic opera Undine was praised by Weber. His influence as a writer, meanwhile, was felt as far afield as France, Russia and America, those who fell under his spell including Baudelaire (for whom he was simply ‘the divine Hoffmann’), Balzac and Maupassant, as well as Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Gogol, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Photos and Videos


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CLASSICAL VIENNA

MAY 1, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

Maxim Rysanov, viola
Kristina Blaumane, cello
Alexander Bedenko, clarinet
Jacob Katsnelson, piano
Illustrated talk by Stephen Johnson

Haydn - Piano Sonata No. 33 in C minor, Hob. XVI:20
Mozart - Clarinet Trio in E flat major, K498 ‘Kegelstatt Trio’ (for clarinet, viola and piano)
Beethoven - Duet for viola and cello in E flat major, WoO 32 ‘Eyeglass’
Beethoven - Clarinet Trio in B flat major, Op. 11 (arr. for viola, cello and piano)

Today, Haydn and Mozart are routinely labelled ‘Classical’. But for a brilliant younger contemporary of theirs, the writer, composer and critic E.T.A. Hoffmann, they were ‘Romantics’, and Beethoven was their natural successor. What we now call the Classical Era was an age of ferment and transition. When Beethoven was born in 1770, composers were liveried servants; by the time of his death in 1827, the composer had become an artistic hero, the true heir of the democratic, revolutionary Napoleon. Vienna registered this epochal change in its own paradoxical way. The capital of the centuries-old Holy Roman Empire was a bastion of political and cultural reaction. Yet it was also an international city, to which people flocked from far and wide, bringing with them contrasting cultural attitudes and beliefs. The shock waves of the French Revolution were registered in a variety of ways: secretly in Masonic lodges, and publicly in the subversive comedy of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. This was also the so-called Age of Enlightenment, in which intellectuals of many disciplines were challenging the authority of the throne or the pulpit, and arguing that truth could only really be found by independent enquiry, and tested by discussion with similarly independent minds.
The first stirrings of Romanticism, revolutionary thinking, the spirit of courageous enquiry and delight in disputation – all of this can be heard, long before Beethoven’s incendiary ‘Eroica’ Symphony, in the chamber and instrumental music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven himself. But the ‘Classical’ label is not simply wrong. This was an age in which new musical forms were being perfected, in which Sturm und Drang was countered by an instinct for balance and elegance of proportion. The paradox of Vienna is also the paradox of its music.

Photos and Videos


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ENDELLION QUARTET. SEVEN LAST WORDS

MARCH 26, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

The Endellion String Quartet
Haydn ‘Seven Last Words’, Op. 51

London Première of Poems by Ruth Padel
‘Seven Words and an Earthquake’

On Good Friday 1787, in the great Baroque cathedral of Cádiz, music by Joseph Haydn was performed during ten-minute intervals between the bishop’s meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross. These Last Words refer to seven short utterances made by the dying Christ, taken from the Gospel stories of the Crucifixion, and Haydn wrote his music as a personal response to each of them. 
In this concert, we present interspersed between Haydn’s movements not sermons, but poems, written and read by Ruth Padel in tribute to the interrelations, and tensions, created by the composer between word and music. 
Each poem ends with the Word to which the ensuing music then responds. This first London performance of Padel’s haunting poems offers a uniquely tangible and contemporary vision of a historic scene, as a world-renowned string quartet and a multi-award-winning poet take us on an emotional journey which begins by attending to the needs of others – Forgiveness, Comfort and Relationship – and progresses through Abandonment and Distress to culminate in Fulfilment and Reunion.

Photos and Videos


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TOLSTOY AND MUSIC: KREUTZER SONATA

FEBRUARY 6, 2014. 20th Century Theatre, London

Dmitry Sitkovetsky, violin
Iain Burnside, piano
Zemlinsky Quartet
Illustrated talk by Iain Burnside

Beethoven - Violin Sonata No. 9, Op. 47 “Kreutzer Sonata”
Tchaikovsky - String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11 (2nd movement)
Janáček - String Quartet No. 1 "Kreutzer Sonata"

Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ for violin and piano (dedicated to Rodolphe Kreutzer, a French violinist who never performed it) is the centerpiece of Tolstoy’s disturbing and controversial novel, ‘The Kreutzer Sonata.’ The novel in turn inspired the Czech composer, Leoš Janáček, to write his eponymous, intense and feverish first string quartet.
Tolstoy, deeply responsive to music, had a particular passion for folk music (the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s first quartet, based on a folk song from Tolstoy’s childhood, brought tears to his eyes). However, he was highly selective about the works of Western composers. While Tolstoy admired Beethoven and was captivated by his music, he was also of the view that the composer had brought about the decline of musical art.
In ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’, Tolstoy expresses his complex and controversial views on marriage and sexuality, focusing on the conflict between the main character, Pozdnyshev, and his unnamed wife, who plays Beethoven’s sonata with a spirited violinist. While she becomes impassioned by the music, Pozdnyshev, believing himself deceived, is overcome by a jealous rage and murders his wife. 
The musical narrative of Janáček’s String Quartet No. 1, ‘Kreutzer Sonata’, seems to mirror the unfolding marital tragedy of Tolstoy's novel, while the third movement of the quartet is modelled on the second theme of Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata.’  
Join us as we explore the unique connections between music and literature, and witness music become, in Tolstoy’s words, ‘…a shorthand of feelings.’

Photos and Videos


2013

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ROMANTIC VIENNA. FROM DAWN TO DUSK

NOVEMBER 18, 2013. 20th Century Theatre, London

Borodin Quartet
Alexander Bedenko, clarinet
Illustrated talk by Patrick Bade

Schubert - String Quartet No. 14 in D minor "Death and the Maiden"
Brahms - Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115

From the time of Gluck in the mid-eighteenth century to that of Mahler and Schoenberg in the early twentieth, Vienna was the capital of capitals as far as music was concerned. If a composer could make it there, he truly could make it anywhere. Amongst the composers of genius attracted to the city were Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Richard Strauss and Lehar, not to mention such native sons as Schubert and Johann Strauss. In no other city was music quite so central to its life, or musical intrigues quite so poisonous! In our Romantic Vienna programme (the first of the three concerts devoted to Vienna) we shall be exploring the music and art of the Romantic period. We will present the music of Schubert and Brahms, the Romantic classics. Both Schubert and Brahms composed in the traditional forms established by the great classical Viennese trinity: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, but the content of their music is highly Romantic. While Schubert's music (like that of the later Beethoven) heralds the dawn of Romanticism, that of Brahms brings on the dusk.

Photos and Videos


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PROUST AND MUSIC: REAL AND IMAGINED

NOVEMBER 13, 2013. 20th Century Theatre, London

Ebène Quartet
Ekaterina Derzhavina, piano
Anton Martynov, violin
Shani Diluka, piano
Illustrated talk by Richard Wigmore

Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110
Saint-Saëns - Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75
Fauré - Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 45 (1st movement)
Debussy - String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10

Marcel Proust was one of the most musically responsive of writers. Hypersensitive and hyper-fastidious, he once wrote to his friend Gabriel Fauré that he was ‘intoxicated by his music’. Fauré in turn became one of the models for the composer Vinteuil in Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Yet as Proust revealed, the inspiration for the ‘petite phrase’ associated with Swann’s love for Odette in the novel was not Fauré’s, but the ‘motto’ theme that pervades Camille Saint-Saëns’ Violin Sonata in D minor.
Join us as we explore music associated with Proust in a programme that ranges from late Beethoven (one of the writer’s dearest loves) via the charming, rarely heard Saint-Saëns violin sonata, to the first movement of Fauré’s Piano Quartet in G minor inspired by the composer’s childhood memories (Proust would have approved), and finally, to Debussy’s revolutionary String Quartet of 1893, Proust’s favourite work by his favourite living composer.

Photos and Videos


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MISIA: THE MUSE OF BELLE EPOQUE

SEPTEMBER 21, 2013. 20th Century Theatre, London

Aleksei Kiseliov, cello
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Illustrated talk by Patrick Bade

Gabriel Fauré - Romance, Op. 69; Élégie, Op. 24; Papillon, Op. 77
Claude Debussy - Nocturne et Scherzo for Cello and Piano; Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor
Maurice Ravel - Le Cygne (arranged for Cello); Pièce en Forme de Habanera
Francis Poulenc - Cavatine from Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 143
Igor Stravinsky - Suite Italienne (after Pulcinella) for Cello and Piano

Misia Sert, née Godebska (1872-1950), was a muse and a patron to some of the most famous musicians, artists and writers from the Belle Époque 1890s through the 1930. According to Paul Morand, “She excited genius... through nothing but the vibration of her being.” 
A talented musician in her own right, she studied piano under the composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). An enthusiastic performer of Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin, she was passionate about Debussy and Ravel. (Ravel dedicated his Le Cygne (The Swann) to her in 1906, and the symphonic poem La Valse (The Waltz) in 1920.) In the twentieth century, Misia’s musical tastes turned towards a new aesthetic represented by Satie, Stravinsky, Auric and Poulenc.
One of the most prolifically painted women of her time, Misia was portrayed by Vuillard, Bonnard, Vallotton, Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec and many others. 
Join us to as we present the music of Belle Époque and beyond; become a part of our encounter with Misia, a woman, who by virtue of her magnetic presence alongside artists of her time, became a muse and an arbiter of taste for several decades.

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GOETHE, HAFIZ AND THE LURE OF THE ORIENT IN SONG

MAY 22, 2013. Kings Place, London

Special appearance by François Le Roux, baritone
Benjamin Appl, baritone
Madeleine Pierard, soprano
Sanaz Sotoudeh, piano
Illustrated talk by Richard Wigmore

Illustrated presentation by Ben Street

Franz Schubert, 'Versunken', 'Geheimes', 'Du bist die Ruh'
Richard Strauss 'Gesänge des Orients', Op.77 (excerpts)
Franz Schubert 'Suleika I'
Felix Mendelssohn 'Suleika', Op.34 no.4
Hugo Wolf 'Was in der Schenke waren heute', 'Trunken müssen wir alle sein!', Phänomen'
Maurice Ravel 'Shéhérazade' (excerpts)
Camille Saint-Saëns 'Mélodies Persanes', Op.26 (excerpts)
Gabriel Fauré 'Les roses d’Ispahan', Op.39 no.4

The great Goethe, when in his sixties, fell under the spell of Hafiz, the 14th century Persian poet. Hafiz’s poetry inspired Goethe to create the ‘West-Östlicher Divan’ – a collection of love poems, epigrams and drinking songs. Goethe’s verses in turn inspired composers such as Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn, while poems of Hafiz were set to music by Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss. Join us as we explore Europe’s century-long love affair with the Orient through poetry, painting and song.

Photos and Videos


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CLARA SCHUMANN: ARTIST AND MUSE

MARCH 6, 2013. 20th Century Theatre, London

Sergej Krylov, violin
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Illustrated talk by Richard Wigmore

Robert Schumann - Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 105
Clara Schumann - Scherzo No. 1 in D minor, Op. 10
Clara Schumann - Three Romances for Violin and Piano, Op. 22
Felix Mendelssohn - Songs Without Words, Book 5, Op. 62
Johannes Brahms - Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78

Clara Schumann (Clara Wieck) - virtuoso pianist and composer, wife of Robert Schumann, mother, teacher, friend and inspiration to many of her contemporaries - played many roles during the course of her life. She became one of the greatest performers of the century alongside Thalberg, Chopin, Rubinstein and Liszt, the latter dedicating both his 1838 and 1851 editions to her as one of the finest contemporary pianists. Clara was Schumann's muse and musical voice, creative partner and interpreter of his work. As a celebrated performer, she was able to promote her husband’s works. Clara was the inspiration and guide for much of the music of Brahms, who fell hopelessly in love with her as a young man. As with Schumann, she shared in the genius of Brahms, who in his own words described his relationship with her as “… the most beautiful experience of my life, its greatest wealth and its noblest content.” Clara maintained an inspiring friendship with Mendelssohn, who had the highest regard for her as a musician, and dedicated some of his music to her. Clara, in turn, included at least one of Mendelssohn’s works in almost every recital she gave during her long career as a concert pianist. Along with Clara’s own music, this programme presents music composed by the men for whom she was friend, love, and inspiration. Join us to get a glimpse of the woman behind the Muse.

Photos and Videos


2012

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AN UNATTAINABLE IDEAL: THE DILEMMA OF ROMANTICISM

MAY 1, 2012. Kings Place, London

Iakov Zats, viola
Vsevolod Dvorkin, piano
Illustrated talk by Ben Street

Works by Brahms, Schumann and Franck

Join us as we explore the Romantic dilemma of an Unattainable Ideal. In his pre-performance visual presentation, Dr. Markus Ophälders will examine the philosophical and cultural aspects of the Romantic era, its mentality, and its search for reason, form and liberty. And then you will be able to immerse in the true spirit of Romanticism through the music of Brahms, Schuman and Frank.

Photos and Videos


2011

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LIGHTNESS OF BEING VS. INTENSITY OF PASSION

DECEMBER 6 and 7, 2011. Kings Place, London

New Russian Quartet
Leon Livshin, piano
Illustrated talk by Patrick Bade

Works by Mozart and Brahms

Mozart, the epitome of Classicism, and Brahms, the height of Romanticism... Join us as we go back in time, back to the original context in which the music was written, as we journey through each epoch represented respectively by Mozart and Brahms. Our discussion will focus on the philosophy, the spirit and the social context of their times, accompanied by images of the painting, decorative arts and architecture of each period.This thought-provoking event will inspire you, enhance your perception of music, and possibly even enLighten or imPassion your approach to life.

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REFLECTIONS ON -ISMS IN MUSIC

JUNE 25 and 26, 2011. Southbank Center, London

Leon Livshin, piano
Illustrated talk by Patrick Bade

Works by Chopin, Schumann, Haydn, Ravel and Stravinsky

Classicism and Romanticism, Neoclassicism and Expressionism...
Exploration of Styles through Impressions in Music and Art.