29.Paul Lewis Plays Mozart
Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 12 in A major, composed in 1782, was one of the composer’s personal favourites. He wrote to his father that his concertos from this period “are a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid.” This work offers an incredible outpouring of melodic invention and intimate, chamber-style musical dialogue. Indeed, this version for string quartet and piano was advertised even before the orchestral score was published.
All three movements begin with the strings, building anticipation for the soloist’s entrance. In the cordial Allegro, very unusually, the middle section introduces new material rather than developing what came before! The Andante borrows a theme from an overture by J.C. Bach, who died in 1782. Perhaps Mozart intended this noble, touching slow movement as a tribute. In the final Rondeau, the piano daringly enters with new material after the orchestra plays the initial theme. Finally, the lively coda has several surprises in store for the concerto’s brilliant conclusion.
Composed in 1960 when the composer was ailing and under intense pressure from Soviet authorities, Shostakovich’s String Quartet no. 8 in C minor is an intricate, brooding, and intensely personal work. Shostakovich integrates themes from many previous compositions, as if he were writing a kind of obituary for himself. His four-note musical signature is omnipresent: D, E-flat, C, B-natural, which in German nomenclature gives his initials, DSCH. There are no breaks between movements. A sense of underlying unease, even grief, is never far away, from the sinister dance music of the central fast movements to the violent beginning of the first Largo. This fourth movement is perhaps the most heart-stopping of all – the opening chords like gunshots, an anguished theme from the First Cello Concerto, a mournful revolutionary tune in the violin, and at the centre of the movement, a soaring, heartbreaking cello solo with a quote from Shostakovich’s opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District – Katerina’s aria of longing for her lover.
© Ariadne Lih, 2018
Paul Lewis is internationally regarded as one of the leading musicians of his generation. His cycles of core piano works by Beethoven and Schubert have received unanimous critical and public acclaim worldwide, and consolidated his reputation as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the European classical repertoire. His numerous awards have included the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year, two Edison awards, three Gramophone awards, the Diapason d’or de l’année, the Preis Der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana, and the South Bank Show Classical Music award. He holds honorary degrees from Liverpool, Edge Hill, and Southampton universities, and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Paul Lewis studied with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London before going on to study privately with Alfred Brendel.
Canadian violinist Yolanda Bruno has been praised for her “total control of her instrument with infinite variety in the sound palette” (La Presse). She has performed across North America and Europe and is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, most recently winning the 2017 Isabel Overton Bader Violin Competition. She received the Canada Council’s Virginia Parker Award (2015) and was the Grand Prize winner at the OSM Manulife Competition (2013), where she also earned the prize for best performance of a work by a Canadian composer. Yolanda’s upcoming projects include the release of her debut album, recorded by Leaf Music, with pianist Isabelle David, a residency at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance, and a tour of Eastern Canada as part of Les Jeuneusses Musicales Canada.
One of Canada’s most exciting and versatile artists, violinist Nikki Chooi was the First Prize Winner of the 2004 Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Manulife Competition, making his debut with the OSM under the baton of Maestro Jacques Lacombe. He is also the First Prize Winner of the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition and a Laureate of the 2012 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition. His many engagements have included performing as a soloist with most of the major Canadian orchestras and at the world’s most prestigious festivals. During the 2015–2016 season, Nikki was a member of the crossover ensemble Time for Three, performing in bluegrass, rock, and jazz styles. He held the concertmaster position at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York during the 2016–2017 season and has served as Guest Concertmaster for the Pittsburgh and Houston Symphonies.
Violist Lambert Chen began his musical studies in his native Taiwan. He gave his first recital at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur in Montreal at the age of ten and appeared as a soloist for the first time with I Musici de Montréal, at 13. He was a member of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal for 5 years, first as an associate viola and then as a member of the viola section. Since 2014, he holds one of the co-solo viola positions of the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse. Lambert was a prizewinner of the OSM Manulife Competition (2007), the New England Conservatory Competition, and a finalist of the Primrose International Viola Competition. After his studies, Lambert served as instructor at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University until 2014. Today, he is a faculty member of the Institut Supérieur des Arts de Toulouse, in France.
Maintaining an active performance schedule in North America and Europe, engagements have taken Cameron Crozman to such prestigious venues as the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Berliner Philharmonie, Paris Philharmonie, Montreal’s Maison symphonique, and Canada’s National Arts Centre. Cameron is a laureate of numerous competitions and was Second Prize winner of the 2013 OSM Manulife Competition. He plays on the ca. 1696 “Bonjour” Stradivarius cello and with the ca. 1830 “Shaw” Adam cello bow, generously loaned by the Canada Council for the Arts Instrument Bank.
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