Friday, 11 January 2013

Angela Hewitt directs Britten Sinfonia

On Tuesday 8th January 2013 I attended the Angela Hewitt directs Britten Sinfonia concert at Norwich Theatre Royal. Acknowledged as one of the finest pianists of her generation, Angela Hewitt made an eagerly awaited return to Norwich Theatre Royal. In this concert she performed two Beethoven piano concertos. Thomas Gould directed pieces from Wagner and Sibelius.

The programme consisted of Siegfried Idyll - Wagner, Piano Concerto No.2 - Beethoven, Scene with Cranes - Sibelius and Piano Concerto No.4 - Beethoven. This was a wonderful set of music for a Winter's evening in the Fine City of Norwich.

Wagner composed the Siegfried Idyll as a birthday present to his second wife, Cosima after the birth of their son Siegfried in 1869. Written in one single sweeping movement, the Idyll opens with a theme from Wagner’s opera, Siegfried, which was completed the previous year. The second theme, for oboe, is that of a lullaby which Wagner intended to use in a piece for their daughter, Eva.

Beethoven composed his Piano Concerto No.2 primarily between 1787 and 1789, although it did not attain the form it was published as until 1795. Beethoven did write another finale for it in 1798 for performance in Prague, but that is not the finale that it was published with. It was used by the composer as a vehicle for his own performances as a young virtuoso.

Scene with Cranes was composed in 1903 as part of the incidental music that Jean Sibelius created for his brother-in-law Arvid J√§rnefelt's play Kuolema (or ‘Death’). While the play is a rather macabre tale of a family being chased by death, in the second scene the young man sees his future wife within a dream and as they fall asleep together in a forest, a flock of cranes fly overhead, with one crane breaking away from the flock to deliver a baby to the lovers.

Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4 was composed in 1805 and 1806. Despite asking a number of renowned pianists to perform the work, each of them refused and, left with little choice, Beethoven was forced to give the work’s premiere himself, first in a private concert to his patron Prince Lobkowitz in March 1807 and later in its public premiere in Vienna in December 1808.

There was a wonderful atmosphere at Norwich Theatre Royal as Angela Hewitt performed two Beethoven Piano Concertos. I enjoyed Wagner's Siegfried Idyll greatly and this proved to be the perfect opening to the concert. The Scene with Cranes brought a touch of nature to the evening. Angela Hewitt's performance was of the highest quality and it was obvious that she was enjoying playing with Britten Sinfonia.

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