Monday 4 May 2020

Welcome to Day Four of the Leamington Music Virtual Festival!

Each day for the duration of the Festival, we will give you an e-flavour of what you could have enjoyed in person this weekend in the Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington – sometimes movements and sometimes whole works; some modern performances and some classics.

While we don’t have the technology to beam each of the programmed artists playing live into your living room, we hope you will enjoy these videos of live performances of some the music you were to hear in our Festival.

Monday’s lunchtime concert was to be our second injection of a Czech flavour with a very welcome return of the Kinsky Piano Trio, which last performed in Leamington in 2017.

Here is a short video of the Kinsky Trio playing Martinů’s Bergerette No 4

Visit the Trio’s website for more

Click here to visit the Presto Classical page on the Kinsky Trio which features details of recordings.

The programme for this concert was to be:

Vranický   Trio in G Op 32 No 1
Beethoven   Trio in C minor Op 1 No 3
Fibich   Trio in F minor

Here we hear Trio Fibonacci playing the Fibich…

Fibich   Trio in F minor   

The Piano Trio in F minor, dating from 1872, is Fibich’s earliest known chamber work and was one of the first works which brought him to the attention of musical Prague.

Although it received favourable reviews upon its première, Fibich never submitted this surprisingly mature work for publication during his lifetime and it was not until 1908, eight years after his death that it was finally published.

It is in three movements. The opening Molto con fuoco begins with a very powerful and original syncopated theme. Interestingly, almost immediately, the strings bring forth echoes of Bohemia. Not much later the piano is given an unmistakably Czech-sounding passage. The lovely second theme follows without any real development. Highly romantic, lyrical and longing, it stands in sharp contrast to the main subject.

The beautiful mono-thematic second movement, Adagio ma non troppo, is one long lied given entirely to the strings. In the finale, Vivacissimo, the piano is entrusted with the first half of the heroic sounding main theme. The strings’ entrance adds a lyrical element. The second theme, with its crotchet triplets creating hemiolas has the aura of Brahms to it. Finely crafted and very appealing, this trio deserves more concert performances than it gets!

Tonight’s evening concert was to be one of Tasmin Little’s last performances before retiring from the concert platform.

Imagine our delight, when planning the Festival after last year’s had drawn to a close, hearing from Tasmin to say she would like to come back to Leamington with Andrey Gugnin and play in the Royal Pump Rooms one last time!

Here is a message from Tasmin (with some joyful Bach) announcing the postponement of her retirement…

Click here to visit the Presto Classical page on Tasmin Little which features details of recordings.

The programme for this concert was to be:

Beethoven   Violin Sonata in F Op 24 ‘Spring’
Brahms   Violin Sonata in D minor Op 108
Arvo Pärt   Fratres
Beethoven   Violin Sonata in A Op 47 ‘Kreutzer’

We are exploring plans with Tasmin and Andrey to rearrange their concert for the Autumn, and had therefore planned not to offer any spoilers of the concert programme in this Virtual Festival.

However, we simply couldn’t resist sharing this video with you of them performing the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata in the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition, which Andrey went on to win. This video comes from the chamber music round of the competition and led not only to Andrey winning the Best Violin and Piano Sonata prize (alongside First Prize in the competition as a whole), but to Tasmin and Andrey’s continued partnership since that day.

Beethoven   Violin Sonata in A Op 47 ‘Kreutzer’                     
i. Adagio sostenuto – Presto
ii. Andante con variazioni
iii. Finale: Presto

Beethoven had to rush to complete the writing of his Sonata in A Major Op. 47. In truth, he practically missed the deadline, and was writing it until curtain time on the evening of its premiere in Vienna in 1803 with the composer at the piano and George Polgreen Bridgetower playing the violin – some parts of the first two movements had to be “filled in” or improvised from the sketchy manuscript.

The ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata is an extraordinary work. Such sheer energy and control is necessary for the bursts of emotional intensity, with running notes, melodic lines, and dialogue with the piano. These qualities, combined with the extremely challenging technical demands, become mental and physical stretch exercises for the performers.

The first movement best exemplifies Beethoven’s own description on the manuscript: “Sonata for piano and violin obbligato, written in a very concertante style, brilliant [this crossed out by Beethoven in the manuscript], quasi concerto-like.” It is indeed a work in which the two instruments execute dominance, vivacity, and excitement, and in concerto proportions, yet are simultaneously heeding the delicacy of subtle chamber-collaborative sensitivities.

The introductory Adagio Sostenuto, opens with a choral-like phrase, initially by the violin and then followed by the piano. This movement is really almost entirely in a minor mode, contradicting the major key indicated in the title, leaving the opening violin phrase the only obvious A major phrase of the movement. In the main body of the movement which follows, Presto, the key signature of the A major is now officially changed to A minor or its relative C major. The beginning statement is introduced by the violin, which is somewhat interrupted by the same statement played by the piano, which completes it with a mini cadenza-like arpeggio. The movement then takes off, and although there are moments throughout hinting at calm, they are never completely so; they are, simply, suspended moments that do not settle down entirely. The end of the movement is marked by relentless fury.

The Second Movement, Andante con variazioni, is a set with four variations, mostly in F major. Considering that this is a slow movement, Beethoven nonetheless incorporated much humour throughout, with his off-beats, pizzicati, and continuous trills. Additionally, there are a good many “fast” notes, but in these Beethoven requires quality, utmost ease, and tranquillity of execution to maintain the crystalline beauty of the movement.

The last movement, Presto, was written originally about a year before, and was to be the last movement of another piano-violin sonata – Sonata in A Major Op 30 No 1. Beethoven ended up writing a set of variations for the earlier work instead, and recycled the original for use in the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata. After the resonating A major chord from the piano—simple, yet sustained and powerful—the violin begins, setting the mood for the entire movement. The style is that of the Tarantella, which, according to Italian folklore, was a very rapid dance intended to cure the poisonous bite of a tarantula spider. Indeed, the origin of the Tarantella was not a carefree occasion; however, Beethoven’s treatment of it is light, witty, and merry, and in noted contrast to the first movement’s stark, dramatic, tumultuous quality. This third movement is spontaneous and graceful as the two instruments dance about together, and the movement ends triumphantly with joy and aplomb.

Join us here tomorrow’s ‘concerts’ in our Virtual Festival!


Can you help…?

We are raising money to help see our artists and our organisation through the Covid-19 crisis. Every pound that is donated will make a difference to the way we can support these musicians now and with our plans for the future, and we are extraordinarily grateful to everyone for their understanding and support in such challenging times.

Leamington Music is a not-for-profit charity which relies on your much-valued support to keep bringing international music-making to the area. When this crisis subsides, we are all going to want music more than ever to lift the spirits, and so we at Leamington Music would be very grateful for your help to keep the charity, along with our artists, buoyant in the meantime.