On a single staff, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and the most powerful feelings. If I were to imagine how I might have made, conceived the piece, I know for certain that the overwhelming excitement and awe would have driven me mad

Thus wrote Johannes Brahms of the Chaconne, composed by J S Bach as the final movement of the Partita No. 2 for solo violin. Throughout much of its three-hundred year existence, the Chaconne has been a source of fascination for composers and performers on instruments other than the violin, inspiring numerous transcriptions by composers as varied as Johannes Brahms, Feruccio Busoni and Leopold Stokowski.

A tour-de-force of instrumental ingenuity, musicianship and virtuosity, cellist and composer Joy Lisney’s own arrangement is the latest response to the Chaconne and attempts to illuminate Bach’s music through the cello, occasionally taking inspiration from the instrument itself but mostly staying as close as possible to the original.

The monumental Chaconne is the centrepiece of a programme including works by Chopin and Brahms, performed by one of the UK’s most exciting cello and piano duos, Joy and James Lisney.

The programme concludes with Brahms’  Regensonate in D; an intensely nostalgic work that Clara Schumann described as “blissful” and “melancholic” – music that she wanted to accompany her “at that passage from here to eternity”.

8 May – Cheltenham, Pittville Pump Room

19 May – Bristol, St George’s

8 June – London, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre

Joy appears on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune on Monday 6 May

 


Praised for her stylish playing, musical maturity, formidable technical finesse and keen advocacy for new music, Joy Lisney is one of the most exciting young musicians to emerge in recent years in a busy career combining the cello with composing and conducting.

She has been performing internationally since her teens, at leading venues including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Queen’s Hall Edinburgh, St. George’s Bristol and the Southbank Centre, in concerts featuring some of the best known works for cello as well as specially-commissioned new music and her own compositions. Her first string quartet was premiered by the Arditti Quartet in 2015 and she premiered her own composition ‘ScordaturA’ for solo cello in 2017 at St John’s Smith Square as part of the Park Lane Group concert series. Joy has also given world premieres of works by Judith Weir and Cecilia McDowall.

Read more


James Lisney’s website

 

Artist photos by Krisztian Sipos and Suzie Maeder

 

One of the world’s best pianists, Sir András Schiff, joins the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to perform some of world’s best piano music.

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Written 22 years apart, Brahms’ only piano concertos are snapshots of his life. The first is youthful, raw and expressive; the second is mature, structured and wiser. Both embody radical ideas of the 19th century, when revolution was in the air and artists joined political movements to overturn the old order.

The OAE performs these blockbuster piano concertos over two nights with Sir András Schiff, an extraordinary pianist and one of the world’s finest musicians. To complement the piano concertos, they also delve into music by Brahm’s mentor and inspiration, Robert Schumann exploring the complex interplay between political turmoil and personal anguish in composer’s life.

Pre-concert talks, Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall 6pm

New to Brahms? Enjoy an introduction to Brahms’ Piano Concertos at a free pre-concert talk by presenter Katy Hamilton.

On the second night, Dr Robert Samuels of the Open University will explore Brahms’ relationship with Schumann in a pre-concert talk

Brahms Piano Concertos with Sir András Schiff

Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 March 2019, Royal Festival Hall, 7pm

Further information and tickets


source: OAE press

(Photo: Yutaka Suzuki/Askonas Holt)

Southbank Centre’s Brutalist arts venues, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, will reopen on Monday 9 April, following over two years of refurbishment and redesign.

While many of us missed the QEH and Purcell Room during their closure, St John’s Square, not far away on the north side of the river, near Westminster, has benefited from increased exposure as it has been the home of most of the SBC International Piano Series concerts and some chamber recitals too, and it is good to see this fine building now firmly on the map of London concert venues. Meanwhile, the newly refurbished QEH and Purcell Room look fabulous, judging by these pictures, and details such as French polished wood, hand-upholstered leather and aluminium seats and energy efficient climate control promise stylish comfort for the contemporary concert goer. The original brutalist concrete structures have been fully restored and the foyer area (previously rather grim despite attempts at funky lighting) has been revitalised with plenty of natural light  and better views of the Thames

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The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room open with a programme of events paying tribute to the historic legacy of the venues, and the legendary artists who have performed there over the past fifty years. A dynamic blend of contemporary and classical work sees vibrant performances, events, installations and a free programme of activities for all ages. The reopening programme runs from Monday 9 April until the end of May 2018. Further details here

Francesco-032 by Marie Staggat

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

There has always been a piano at my house, perhaps a strategic move by my mother. Soon I found myself curious about which sounds I could trigger out of the instrument. Then I realized the piano is itself a world.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Growing up I found the most inspiration in three musicians of the twentieth century: Paco de Lucia, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Joe Zawinul. And the discovery of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Not to repeat myself, not to fall into a routine.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Pride is not a feeling I measure I measure my achievements with. Perhaps my album ‘Idioynkrasia’ (inFine, 2011) is my most personal, and ‘Piano Circle Songs’ (Sony, 2017) the most challenging.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

When I was 5 years old, I said to my piano teacher: “I only want to play the music of Bach, and my own music” She thought I was a cute little boy, and taught me how to play the piano.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

The complete works for keyboard of J S Bach is a project for a lifetime, not necessarily a season.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I like a variety of venues, and also alternating them. There are some fantastic concert halls in Japan for instance, really pristine acoustics. D-Edge, a club in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has a great sound system and vibe.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Probably a show at Jeita Grotto in Lebanon. Stalactites and stalagmites, plus a 7-second reverb.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To be in line with what you do artistically. (Whether this works out commercially speaking is another question)

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Wake up, listen up, be yourself.

What is your present state of mind?

Aspiring serenity.

 

 

Francesco Tristiano’s ‘Piano Circle Songs’ is released on the Sony label. Francesco performs music from his new album, with Canadian pianist and songwriter Chilly Gonzales with whom the project was developed, at the Southbank Centre on 20 September 2017 – details here

Francesco Tristiano’s biography

 

Artist photo by Marie Staggat

Brahms and Messiaen do not immediately strike one as natural concert programme companions: Brahms teems with polyphony and darkness while Messiaen is about light, timbre, vertical chords, vibrant colour – indeed Messiaen hated Brahms, declaring that “it’s always raining” in Brahms’ music.

But unlikely or daring juxtapositions can create interesting and unexpected contrasts and connections, as one work shines a new light on another, enriching both listener and performer’s experience – and this was certainly my take on this remarkable concert by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich at St John’s Smith Square which combined Brahms’ Sonata in F minor, Op 34b with Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen.

If there are connections to be made between the music that made up this large-scale programme it is that both works are mighty musical edifices, two great mountains which transcend mere notes on the page and which demonstrate each composer’s wish to remain in long moments of emotional distress, relaxation or ecstasy. Both works also display a high level of perfectionism in their structures and organisation, replete with many details, motifs and musical pathways which could easily become blurred in a lesser performance.

Read my full review here

 

(picture credit Neda Navaee)

 

The Southbank Centre (SBC) yesterday announced its 2017/18 programme and there’s an embarrassment of riches for lovers of the piano and its literature with concerts featuring established international artists and rising stars. I am particularly looking forward to performances by Maurizio Pollini, Vikingur Olaffson, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mitsuko Uchida and Artist-in-Residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who will be performing Ligeti’s Etudes.

Young virtuosos

This year’s rising stars, Katia Buniatishvili, Alice Sara Ott and Benjamin Grosvenor offer a kaleidoscope of contrasting personalities and styles, while Bertrand Chamayoux makes his International Piano Series debut in the opening concert of the season.

Music from the North

As part of the festival Nordic Matters, Vikingur Olaffson makes his debut in this year’s series  with Brahms’ Piano Sonata No.3 and its five movements containing echoes of Beethoven’s fifth symphony, alongside that most quintessential of Nordic performers, the Norwegian Leif Ove Andsnes.

The unmissable virtuosos

Enjoy a tremendous range of musical masterpieces while being thrilled by virtuosity with world-famous figures such as Maurizio Pollini, Stephen Hough and Paul Lewis.

A new partnership

Two recitals continue Southbank Centre’s partnership with Mitsuko Uchida. Renowned for her outstanding interpretations of Schubert, this piano legend embarks on the first of her recitals featuring the piano sonatas, from the boundless energy of the G major Sonata to the emotional depths plumbed by the sonata in B major.

Offering a different perspective, Southbank Centre Artist in Residence, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, throws light on 20th century scores with his performance of Ligeti’s Etudes as part of a weekend to celebrate the composer’s music.

These events go on general sale at 10am on Thursday 23 February.

Source: SBC website