Calling all serious music lovers to Hilton

James Grace
James Grace

Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival presents two free concerts at this year’s Hilton Arts Festival from September 6-18. Four other concerts highlight Beethoven.

Music Revival forms an integral part of the Hilton Arts Festival. Christopher Duigan presents six concerts. Thanks to Marriott, The Income Specialists, there are two free concerts: The Music of Chopin with Christopher at the piano and Two Guitars featuring James Grace & Jonathan Crossley. All details and bookings:

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Pianist, 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. In this special presentation Duigan 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. Duigan, a 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.

TWO GUITARS – James Grace and Jonathan Crossley
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 take 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.

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 opening concert of the Music Revival Concert Series. In the first of this Beethoven-focused series of concerts, they 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 BrIdgetower, 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 to 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 Belgian-French Cesar Franck, one of the finest, most ecstatic and best loved sonatas for violin and piano.

BEETHOVEN II: Piano Concerto No 3 and Mozart
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. Christopher Duigan 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.

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 Duigan 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 and 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.

BEETHOVEN IV – The Clarinet Trio and Saint-Saëns
Ending the Beethoven series, 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 in 1797 at the request of Joseph Beer, a noted clarinettist of the time, who 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). In contrast is Saint-Saëns’ Clarinet Sonata. In the last year of his life, at 85, Saint-Saëns was still active as a composer and conductor, travelling between Algiers and Paris. His last completed works were three sonatas, one each for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. The programme is completed by Beethoven’s ebullient Sonata in A Major Op 69 – a tour de force of lyricism and brilliance and sees Beethoven at his most optimistic.

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