Beethoven’s music to be celebrated in Music Revival concerts at the Hilton Arts Festival

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Christopher Duigan will be performing in a number of concerts at the Hilton Arts Festival. Photo: Jonathan Burton

Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival will once again be hosting a series of concerts at the Hilton Arts Festival in the Chapel at Hilton College from Friday, September 16 to Sunday, September 18. 

The music gets underway at 8 pm on Friday, September 16 with BEETHOVEN I – The ‘Kreutzer’ and Franck for Violin and Piano.

Acclaimed international violinist and KZN Philharmonic Concert-master Joanna Frankel joins Christopher Duigan (piano) in the first of the Beethoven-focused series of concerts. They will play one of the composer’s crowning masterpieces, the Violin Sonata in A Op.47 ‘ Kreutzer’.

Known for its challenging violin and piano parts, extreme emotional range, and length, the sonata was originally written for violinist George Brdgetower, a noted British virtuoso of the day, born of Polish and West Indian parents. Beethoven later withdrew the dedication after a personal dispute following the first performance.

He finally dedicated the work it the French virtuoso, Rodolphe Kreutzer, who thought the work unplayable and never performed it.

In this concert, Frankel and Duigan pair the ‘Kreutzer’ with the Sonata in A major by Belgain-French Cesar Franck, one of the repertoire’s finest, most ecstatic and best loved sonatas for violin and piano.

Tickets are R120.

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Joanna Frankel. Photo: Val Adamson

The music continues on Saturday, September 17 at 10 am with THE MUSIC OF CHOPIN in which Christopher Duigan performs the music of French-Polish pianist and composer, Frédéric Chopin.

In the first of two free concerts at the Hilton Arts Festival sponsored by Marriott, The Income Specialists, this programme includes a representative selection of the composer’s music;  the Ballade No 3, Scherzo No.1 and nocturnes, mazurkas  and waltzes.

Christopher will also be discussing the insight he gained into Chopin’s life and his music while on a trip to Warsaw, Poland, and the Chopin Museum, last year.

The Steinway Artist, has devoted much time to the study and performance of Chopin’s music in his professional career over the last 25 years and was invited to give two recital programmes of the composer’s music at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2010 on the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Entry is free but booking is essential.

The second Beethoven concert – BEETHOVEN II – Piano Concerto No 3 and Mozart – takes place in the Chapel at 4 pm.

Like Mozart, and later Chopin, it would have been customary for Beethoven to perform his piano concertos in a ‘reduced’ version, especially when trying out a new work.

Mozart himself announced the publication of three of his own piano concertos to be performed with a large orchestra, including wind instruments, or equally acceptable, ‘a quattro’, that is with two violins, one viola and violoncello.

Christopher is joined by the KZN Philharmonic Quartet in a performance of selections from one of these Mozart Concertos, in C major K415, as arranged by the composer, together with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor.

Although not a published arrangement by the composer himself, it offers rare insight and a fresh take on the music. As a composer, Beethoven experienced much success at the turn of the 19th century.

He wrote his first two symphonies, his first set of string quartets, and the famous “Moonlight” Sonata. His encroaching deafness meant that his days as a performer were coming to an end. But when he wrote the Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, a dramatic and intense vehicle for his pianistic and compositional prowess, he was still able to play, acting as the soloist at the premiere in 1803.

Tickets R120.

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Junnan Sun. Photo: Andreea Tufescu Photography

On Sunday, September 18 at 10 am classical music fans can enjoy BEETHOVEN III – The ‘Moonlight’ Sonata.

Beethoven’s musical output is often conveniently divided into three periods. In the first he uses the language of Viennese classicism established by earlier composers, above all Haydn and Mozart, with the emphasis on clarity, restraint, and balance.

In the second period he moves beyond the conventions of classicism and writes with a bolder, more personal tone, often with very powerful surges toward moods of triumph, tragedy and transformation.

In the third period, the earlier urgency gives way to moods that have been described by words such as ‘interior’, ‘contemplative’ and ‘visionary’.

Christopher plays three sonatas from the canon of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas that represent each of these periods; the light-hearted Sonata in F Op 10 No 2, the popular ‘Moonlight’ Sonata Op 27 no 2 to the Sonata in E  minor Op 90.

Music by German romantic composers, who were highly influenced by Beethoven’s legacy, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, complete the selection.

Tickets R120.

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Gypsy Strings

At 12 pm on Sunday, September 18, new KZN Ensemble, Gypsy Strings, will be performing a colourful bouquet of Balkan classical folk tunes in the concert Gypsy Quartet.

The music programme features arrangements from Bartok, Martinu, Vladigerov and many others.

The performers are the well-known KZN Philharmonic players, Ralitza Macheva (Bulgaria), Annamaria D’Andrea (Italy) and Ralitsa Pechoux (Bulgaria) on strings. The drums are brought together by the excellent percussionist Stephan Pechoux (France)

Tickets R120.

Two Guitars – James Grace and Jonathan Crossley is next up in the Chapel at 2 pm on Sunday, September 18.

Acclaimed guitarists, James Grace and Jonathan Crossley, present an innovative and varied programme at the Hilton Arts Festival.

Both artists are accomplished soloists and chamber musicians, maintaining full-time performing and teaching careers which regularly takes them throughout Southern Africa, Europe and the UAE.

In this concert, the duo will perform original works for two guitars by composers including the Italian, Ferdinando Carulli, and Julio Cesar Oliva, from Mexico, alongside arrangements of works by Manuel de Falla and Manuel Maria Ponce, among others.

The concert is one of two free concerts at the Hilton Arts Festival sponsored by Marriott, The Income Specialists.

Booking is essential.

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Aristide du Plessis.

The final concert in the Music Revival series is BEETHOVEN IV – The Clarinet Trio and Saint-Saëns, which takes place at 4 pm on Sunday, September 18.

Young musicians, Junnan Sun (clarinet) and Aristide du Plessis (cello), join Christopher Duigan in a spirited selection of music for clarinet, cello and piano.

Beethoven wrote his Trio in B-flat Op. 11 in1797 at the request of Joseph Beer, a noted clarinettist of the time, who, however, considered it an insufficiently flashy vehicle for his talents and may never have performed it.

Beethoven used a melody drawn from Joseph Weigl’s opera L’Amor mariner in the variations of the finale of this trio. The tune was all the rage in Vienna at the time, to the point where it was hummed and whistled in the city’s streets, and gave the trio the nickname “Gassenhauer” (street tune).

Contrasting in this selection is the Clarinet Sonata by Camille Saint-Saëns. In the last year of his life, at the age of 85, Saint-Saëns was still active as a composer and conductor, travelling between Algiers and Paris.

Besides a final piano album leaf, his last completed works were three sonatas, one each for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. He intended to write sonatas for another three wind instruments, but was never able to.

The programme is completed by Beethoven’s ebullient Sonata in A major Op 69 – a tour de force of lyricism and brilliance that signals one of the first major compositions for this piano cello combination, and sees Beethoven at his most optimistic.

Tickets R120.

To book your tickets for all these concerts send an email to tickets@hiltoncollege.com

For more information about the concerts and the Hilton Arts Festival in general, log on to http://www.hiltonfestival.co.za, like the Facebook page: Hilton Arts Festival or follow the festival on Twitter @HiltonFest.

Inquiries: 033 383 0126/7 or email festival@hiltoncollege.com

 

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