Pianist Hélène Grimaud steps up fundraising efforts for wolf charity
26 March 2015
Hélène Grimaud is giving two special concerts with the Stamford Symphony Orchestra to raise money for the Wolf Conservation Center.
Grimaud founded the centre in South Salem, NY in 1999 and is dedicating two benefit concerts to the charity.
The concerts, which take place at the Palace Theater on 25 and 26 April, are part of Grimaud’s current tour.
It was in 1991 that the French pianist’s interest in the animals was first ignited. She was walking a friend’s dog in Florida when she encountered a wolf. ‘She came up to my left hand and sniffed it,’ Grimaud writes in her memoir Wild Harmonies: A Life of Music and Wolves. ‘I merely stretched out my fingers and, all by herself, she slid her head and then her shoulders under my palm. I felt a shooting spark, a shock, which ran through my entire body. The single point of contact radiated throughout my arm and chest, and filled me with gentleness, ... a most compelling gentleness, which awakened in me a mysterious singing, the call of an unknown, primeval force.’
First publication of Antoine Reicha’s Sonata in D
26 March 2015
Bold: Antoine Reicha© Tully Potter Collection
Antoine Reicha’s (1770-1836) Sonata in D – described by its current editor as ‘rock music of the early 19th century’ – has received its first formal publication, over 200 years since it first appeared in manuscript.
The work is the latest of Reicha’s seven existing sonatas to appear in a modern edition. Six are published by Symétrie and the remaining one, the Sonata in E flat Op 43, can be found in the Henle edition of 1971. Five of the sonatas published by Symétrie previously existed only in manuscript.
The Sonata in D was edited by Michael Bulley, who wrote an article about the publication of two of the three Grandes Sonates (1803) in the January/February edition of International Piano (No 29).
‘The Sonata in D has so many different things there’s bound to be something to appeal to every pianist,’ says Bulley. ‘If you like playing fugues, for example, then, ten years before Beethoven tried it, Reicha incorporates a fugue into a piano sonata movement. Well, that’s not quite right: in fact, there are two fugues in the first movement, and two of everything else, including two 20-bar passages of insistent repeated quaver chords. It’s the rock music of the early 19th century.
‘The second movement is a Funeral March, that starts off in G major, but then, in the Trio section, marches off into all sorts of keys. The finale is called La Folie, and that’s what it is: a mad whirlwind movement that alternates between a patter-song and a driving theme that relentlessly ascends and descends the keyboard, finishing with 33 bars of little grasshopper-like D major arpeggios.’
The work is likely to appeal to professional pianists and amateurs alike; although there are some difficult passages the technical level is not of the standard you’d find in, say, Liszt’s pianistic writing. The boldness of Reicha’s musical ideas will appeal to 21st century music lovers – it was this that first drew Bulley to the oeuvre: ‘The first music by Reicha I heard was a piano recital in the 1980s that included five of his 36 Fugues, of 1806. Having never heard of Reicha, I didn’t know what to expect and was surprised not just by the high quality of the music, but also by the bold ideas for that period. Since then, I’ve kept an eye open for performances and recordings of Reicha’s music, which I am happy to say are becoming more and more frequent, and, in the last ten years, have investigated manuscripts of his unpublished works, which has led to the recent editions of the piano sonatas, published by Symétrie.’
The sonata in D previously existed only in manuscript; Bulley put together a basic computerised version and worked with the publishers to produce the final edition. ‘We now have modern editions of all seven of Reicha’s piano sonatas that have survived, apart from three pre-1790s ones from his adolescence,’ Bulley explains. ‘Maybe they will be done sometime, but now we go on to other piano works by Reicha, some in manuscript, some in old editions.’
The Reicha revival continues.
Rare Rzewski performance at this year's Glamorgan Festival
25 March 2015
Robin Green is the Vale of Glamorgan Festival’s 2015 Young Artist in Residence
Pianist Robin Green will play Rzewski’s seldom-performed work The People United Will Never Be Defeated! at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in May.
The cult work is based on a revolutionary Chilean song and is rarely programmed due to its complexity. The 1975 composition requires the pianist to improvise, whistle and use extended techniques throughout. Ursula Oppens, its dedicatee, gave the world premiere in 1976.
The People United Will Never Be Defeated! comprises 36 variations, in six groups of six. The piece has been compared to the Goldberg and Diabelli variations, and is one of the most significant piano works to be published in recent years. Click here to see Green performing the opening theme.
Green, who is the Vale of Glamorgan Festival’s 2015 Young Artist in Residence, will perform The People United Will Never Be Defeated! on 23 May at 1pm at St Illtud’s Church, Llantwit Major
Angela Hewitt gives recital in memory of David Robson
25 March 2015
Grateful: Angela Hewitt© Keith Saunders
Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has given a special recital in memory of promoter and arts advocate David Robson, who died last year
Robson (1934-2014) had a passion for music and had been active in the North East region for many years. He helped to promote Hewitt when she first came to the UK some 30 years ago, and this concert arose from her desire to honour his memory. At the outset of event, which was held on 15 March by the Darlington Piano Society, Hewitt spoke movingly of Robson’s influence.
The ensuing recital was transformed by the emotion of the occasion into something well beyond any routine. Angela began with the Partita No 5 in G major by JS Bach. Her performance blended beauty of line with a consummate clarity of intent. The Sarabande in particular was rich with emotion, and the Gigue buzzed with vigour. The scene was thus set for an emotional Les Adieux, Beethoven’s Sonata Op 81a.
After the interval a searching performance of Op 110 rose beyond the circumstances of the occasion to remind us of the transcendental power of Beethoven’s music. The recital concluded with further music by Bach including Alle Menschen mussen sterben – arranged by Hewitt – and the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor BWV 903. It was warmly received by the audience, who were rewarded by an exquisite performance of the Nocturne Op 9 No 2 by Chopin as an encore. Robson would have loved it.
National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy calls for research posters
3 March 2015
The Research Committee of the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP) is calling for proposals for presentations at the NCKP Research Poster Sessions in Lombard, Illinois, which take place 29 July to 1 August. The committee invites submissions from professional educators and college students. The submission deadline is 1 May.
The NCKP is interested in clearly articulated research that uses appropriate methodology. All aspects of keyboard pedagogy, music teaching, music learning and related subjects will be considered. Reviews of empirical literature related to music and music learning that yield new insights into the discipline are also of interest.
Click here for submission requirements and more information.