This third volume of Andreas Staier's series devoted to the piano music of Robert Schumann begins with his first published composition, the "Abegg" Variations op.1, and ends with his very last work, posthumously published "Geistervariationen". The road he travelled between the two words was a long one, yet this programme also brings out the consistency of the poetic urge that gives Schumann's music its matchless powers of evocation.
Beethoven's works for cello and piano were written between 1796 and 1815. He effectively created the sonata for cello, with an independent piano part, in his Op.5, intended for Jean-Louis Duport and dedicated to Frederick William II of Prussia. Like the delightful variations on themes by Handel and Mozart, they represent his first-period style, as Op.69 typifies the second. The two sublime Sonatas Op.102, for their part, already herald the unprecedented stylistic freedom of the composer's final decade.
This programme illustrates four essential qualities of the music of Felix Mendelssohn. Music stripped of all superfluity, including the literary aspect (Songs without Words); a gift for creating magical atmospheres (Rondo capriccioso); unconditional admiration for classical order; and, finally, a genuine veneration for Bach (Prelude and Fugue op.35). The whole radiant universe of Mendelssohn is encapsulated here.
Hindemith composed more than 30 sonatas for the most diverse instruments â€“ all of which he was capable of playing himself! This fascinating selection of works written between 1935 (when he became persona non grata in Nazi Germany) and 1948 (the brilliant Cello Sonata for Piatigorsky) is played by some of today's finest soloists, with the guiding spirit of Alexander Melnikov at the piano. How often does one hear a sonata for Althorn? Especially one published along with a poem by the composer?
It is a plea for the direct experience of a music that had become fed up with the constraints of traditional forms. Debussyâ€™s music especially reveals characteristics that justifiably move it into the proximity of Impressionist painting, as it produces moving paintings, landscapes of sound, soundscapes in the narrowest sense of the word that can draw the listener into the middle of the picture. Maurice Ravelâ€™s String Quartet, completed in 1903, had to be and was compared with Debussyâ€™s quartet. At the same time, it can be seen here how Ravelâ€™s musical diction â€“ based on Debussyâ€™s â€“ prepared the way for French Modernism. Like only few of his colleagues, the Briton Thomas AdĂ¨s, born in 1971, is capable of fusing traditional elements from music history, including obvious references to existing compositions, with modern sound production into an individual style appealing directly to the listener.
From the 28th January to the 11th February, Mary Carewe toured the UK presenting the much loved hits of Irving Berlin to commemorate the 125th year since his birth. Click here for a review of the opening night at Royal Festival Hall, 28th January.
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