Aroha Music Society is delighted to present Yuka & Kemp in partnership with Chamber Music New Zealand and with support from KKIPC Trust.
Virtuoso violinist Yuka Eguchi is joined by Kemp English on fortepiano for an afternoon of quintessential violin and piano duo repertoire.
The Kapiti-based duo have curated a fortepiano and violin programme offering a Viennese connection, contrasting three masterwork duo sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert with Fritz Kreisler's delightful Rondino on a Theme by Beethoven and virtuosic Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice for solo violin. Yuka & Kemp have been delighting audiences with that extra-special chemistry that comes from being partners, both on and off the stage. Celebrated in their own right as soloists, they are dynamic together, on a mission to spread the joys of the violin and fortepiano duo repertoire far and wide.
Yuka Eguchi has been Assistant Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra since 2015. Prior to that she was one of Japan’s foremost concertmasters, having led both the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra (2007-2011) and Tokyo Mozart Players (2006-2011) and she now continues to be a guest concertmaster throughout the country. She also maintains a busy career as a solo and chamber musician. Yuka began learning the violin at the age of three and by the time she was eight, was touring the world with the renowned violin teacher Dr Suzuki and a select group of his most talented students. In only her second year at high school she won the 55th Japan Music Competition. After taking up a scholarship from Indiana University to study with the legendary Josef Gingold (Joshua Bell’s teacher), Yuka went on to win prizes in the Washington International Competition and prestigious Paganini Competition in Genova.
Kemp English is one of New Zealand’s leading concert performers. Much in demand as a solo organist, specialist fortepiano exponent, and collaborative pianist, he relishes the opportunity to work in a diverse array of styles and periods. He tours the world regularly as a solo and duo performer and has produced 23 critically acclaimed CDs on the Decca, Naxos,and Ode record labels. His recordings are often heard on Radio New Zealand, the ABC, BBC Radio, Classic FM UK and USA radio networks with several discs being nominated for the NZ Music Awards ‘Classical Album of the Year’. Kemp studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and later completed a Master of Arts degree in music performance at the University of York. From 1994 to 2005, he was an Executant Lecturer in Music at the University of Otago. He received his PhD from the University of Adelaide in 2013 for his pioneering recording work of the complete cycle of Koželuch’s solo keyboard sonatas
Yuka & Kemp
In the last fifty years or so, the classical music world has witnessed a blossoming of interest in Historically Informed Performance (HIP). With this, Scholars and audiences alike have become fascinated by the possibilities period instruments afford, whether they be original or accurate reproductions. Hearing Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert played on pianos the composers themselves would have known makes perfect sense. There is a symbiotic relationship between the instruments and the music written for them that’s hard to ignore. In today’s concert, Kemp English plays a reproduction fortepiano after Johann Andreas Stein (1784), the type of instrument Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert would have known. Correspondingly, Yuka Eguchi plays a violin by Landolfi, dated 1766.
Today’s concert also showcases a sonata from each of the aforementioned Viennese masters during the period from 1778 to 1816. The art of the accompanied sonata had arisen during the 18th century as an offshoot from the rapidly developing solo piano sonata. Music making of the time was commonly centred around the piano, and playing such an instrument was the safe and appropriate pastime of ladies. Therefore, adding a violin part was simply a means of tapping into the large and, funnily enough, generally male amateur violinist market—the ‘Leibhaber’ of C.P.E. Bach’s Kennerund Leibhaber (‘connoisseur and amateur’).
Mozart was certainly aware of the genre’s popularity and resultant commercial viability. “I send my sister herewith six duets for clavicembalo (keyboard) and violin by Schuster, which I have often played here,” Wolfgang wrote to his father from Mannheim. “They are not bad. If I stay on I shall write six myself in the same style, as they are very popular.” Mozart did stay on and he did compose a group of four violin sonatas, adding three more when he moved on to Paris. He gathered six of these seven sonatas together for publication in 1778, dedicating them to the Electress of the Palatine.
He left the Sonata in C major K296 out, presumably because he had already promised to dedicate it to his Mannheim landlord’s fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, Therese Pierron. He saved publishing this work until the summer of 1781, when he pulled together another set of six sonatas for publication in his new home, Vienna. “These sonatas are the only ones of their kind,” an anonymous reviewer wrote in the Hamburg Magazin der Musik in 1783. “They are rich in new ideas, showing traces of the great musical genius of their author....Moreover, the violin accompaniment is so ingeniously combined with the piano part that both instruments are continuously employed; and thus these sonatas demand a violinist as accomplished as the pianist.”
Fritz Kreisler famously fooled Ernest Newman (chief critic of The Times in London) into believing he had discovered 53 baroque manuscripts “in an old convent in the South of France”, which became the basis of his ‘Classical Manuscripts’. As things transpired, they were all original Kreisler and just confirmed what an accomplished composer of pastiche works he was. The Rondino on a theme of Beethoven is no exception, and provides a delightful segue into his powerful Recitativo and Scherzo – Caprice for solo violin. Composed for his friend Eugène-Auguste Ysaÿe, this work represents Kreisler’s revenge after Ysaÿe dedicated his fiendishly difficult 4th sonata to Kreisler, in an attempt to make him practice!
By the first part of the 19th century the ‘accompanied sonata’ tide was turning, but the financial gains from embracing the Leibhaber market remained. Indeed, this mercenary attitude persisted with Diabelli’s first publication of the Schubert sonatas in 1836. Diabolical Diabelli renamed them ‘Sonatinas’ hoping to cash in on the ‘Leibhaber’ violinist. ‘Sonatina’ implied a work less lengthy and technically demanding than ‘Sonata’. This label certainly doesn’t do the works justice. Their scope clearly shows Schubert’s grasp of form, charming melodic invention and often surprising harmonic twists.
Although Beethoven’s Spring Sonata falls roughly between the Mozart and Schubert works, it is unquestionably the least ‘accompanied sonata’ of them all. Written a year before his heartbreaking Heilingstadt Testament of 1802, in which he professes his struggles with impending deafness, it is the work of a man forced to be original through the isolating circumstances that such an affliction created. He writes “My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished … Thus, it has been during the last six months which I have spent in the country. But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone standing next to me heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents almost drove me to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended my life—it was only my art that held me back”.
But in the Spring Sonata we’d never know of these inner torments; it is one of Beethoven’s most lyrical offerings. Obviously, art and the hardships of life are not always in synergy. Despite the impending Heiligenstadt Testament, Beethoven’s Spring is a work of bucolic joy, inspired at least by memories of the sounds of nature and anticipating the Pastoral Symphony of 1808, also in the key of F major.
About the In Partnership Series
Alongside its CMNZ Presents series, Chamber Music New Zealand collaborates with music presenters across the country to present a curated selection of outstanding musicians of Aotearoa New Zealand and the world. Their engaging programmes celebrate the richness and variety of chamber music repertoire, including significant cornerstone works, new commissions, and repeat performances of enthralling New Zealand music.
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