Our Next Concert:
Tickets £10.00 At the door. There will be no Interval.
In aid of medical research
Wednesday August 9th at 19.00
Tchaikovsky “Dumka” op. 59.
Rachmaninoff Prelude in B flat major op 23 no 2
Prelude in g minor op 23 no 5
Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition”.
P I Tchaikovsky
“Dumka” op. 59
andantino cantabile – con anima – moderato con fuoco
andante meno mosso-adagio-diminuendo
The accepted structure of the modern piano is responsible for the exclusion of Tchaikovsky’s Dumka for piano, Op. 59, from the standard concert repertory. It is difficult to place on a program. At nearly nine minutes, it shares the duration of a Chopin Ballade, but has no suitable companion pieces to accompany it. It is not part of a set of compositions, and Tchaikovsky wrote nothing similar that might pair well. By itself it is too short to occupy an entire half of a recital. So, by default, it begins the program. Given the intensity and range of emotions contained in this small masterpiece, the Dumka deserves a contemplative pause to isolate it from the rest of the program.
By April of 1885, Tchaikovsky had sought refuge from hectic metropolitan life and taken up solitary residence in the countryside far north of Moscow. The previous decade had taken its toll. The tragedy of his failed marriage, coming to terms with his homosexuality, the deaths of mentors and family, and a hectic schedule of work, left the composer prone to occasional periods of depression and drinking. The financial support of his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, helped to some degree and after intermittent travels abroad, Tchaikovsky found much in his new environment inspiring and comforting. The Dumka is an epic on a small scale, its emotional charge no less potent than that of the Pathetique Symphony to be composed six years later.
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff
Prelude in B flat major op 23 no 2 Maestoso
Prelude in g minor op 23 no 5 Alla Marcia (in honour of his wife)
A Russian virtuoso pianist, composer, and conductor of the la te- Romantic period whose works are among the most popular in the classical repertoire. Born into a musical family he took up the piano at age four graduating from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892.with early influences by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, and Mussorgsky. He composed several piano and orchestral pieces by this time. In 1897 Following the critics reaction to his Symphony No.1, he entered a four-year depression composing little until successful psycho-therapy allowed him to complete his Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1901. Also in 1901 Rachmaninoff wrote his Prelude in G minor published when he had completed nine more preludes in 1903 Op. 23 in different keys, none of which was C-sharp minor. It is not known whether he fully intended by this time to eventually complete the full complement of 24 preludes in different keys, to copy earlier examples by Bach, Chopin, Aklan and Scriabin.
Pictures at an Exhibition
Mussorgsky composed Pictures as a memorial to his friend, the Russian artist Viktor Hartmann, who had died in 1873 at age 39. Shortly after the artist’s death, Mussorgsky visited a retrospective exhibition of Hartmann’s sketches, stage designs, and architectural studies and felt the need to capture the experience in music. By early summer 1874, he had completed the work, a lengthy and fiendishly difficult suite for solo piano. At the time of Mussorgsky’s death in 1881 from alcoholism, the piece had been neither performed nor published. It fell to his friend and colleague Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov to tidy up the manuscript and bring it to print in 1886.
1. a gnome-shaped nutcracker
2. troubadour plaintively singing
3. children vigorously playing
4. lumbering wooden Polish ox-cart
5. a ballet of peeping chicks
6. an argument between Two Jews
7. shrill women and vendors in a crowded marketplace
8. catacombs beneath Paris
9. the hut of a grotesque bone-chomping witch of Russian folk-lore
10. a design for an entrance gate to Kiev
Varvara Maggs was a legendary child pianist in St. Petersburg, Russia. At eight she performed Kabalevsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in the St. Petersburg Concerto Competition for Young Pianists, taking first prize and proceeding to play the winning concerto with the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire Orchestra in the Alexander Glazunov Concert Hall conducted by Mariss Jansons.
Another concerto appearance was at the age of ten. She performed Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the Rimsky-Korsakov Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paulavichus. Subsequently they toured Finland, receiving excellent press reviews. She took part in competitions at least twice a year, receiving numerous diplomas and first prizes between the ages of eight and fourteen. At twelve she won a piano duet competition arranged and judged by the famous piano duo Bruk and Taimanov. Later she became Bruk’s student. During this period, her performances were transmitted on Russian television and broadcast on radio. She became widely acknowledged as St. Petersburg’s leading young pianist and was sent to Moscow to represent St. Petersburg at the All Soviet Contest “Young Assemblies of Art”.
At fourteen Varvara entered the Mussorgsky Music College, having obtained the highest entrance marks in the history of the college. She began her studies there under Ekaterina Sharkova, a Professor of Merit of Russia. In her last year, she came out as a Winner of the First International Pianoforte Competition named after M.Udina, St. Petersburg. In 1998 Varvara was admitted to St. Petersburg State Conservatoire after obtaining the highest entry mark possible in the piano examination which exempted her from the rest of the exams. Whilst studying full-time at the Conservatoire under professors Valery Vishnevsky and Eduard Bazanov she taught children at the school attached to the Conservatory. She also accompanied singers from the Mariisky Academy of Young singers and performed as a soloist.
Shortly afterwards she moved to the UK. Since then most of her time has been spent as a piano recitalist in Great Britain and St. Petersburg, Russia. Varvara has given recitals at The Glinka Philharmonic Hall, The Hermitage Theatre, The Sheremetev Palace, The St. Petersburg State University, The Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra, The Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House, The Rimsky-Korsakov Memorial Apartment Museum, The Hall on the Island in Pushkin, The Priory Palace in Gatchina and The Benua Family Museum in Peterhof. In Britain she has played numerous recitals in Birmingham, including Bournville Music Society, St. Martin’s-in-the Bullring and St. Paul’s Church; for Redditch and Knighton Music Societies, in Newport Isle of Wight, and Minehead, at The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, Snitterfield Village and Wootton Warren Churches, in Kenilworth, Earlsdon Methodist Church and Warwick Road United Reformed Church Coventry, and many times at St Andrew’s, Rugby. Recently she gave her first recitals in London at St James’s Church, Paddington and St Brides Church, Fleet Street.