02 Jul 2010

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1810 Michael Houstoun plays Schumann

“Houstoun … is one of our pre-eminent musical statesmen” – William Dart, The New Zealand Herald

Michael Houstoun continues his tour of the great Romantic piano concertos with Schumann’s warmly poetic and full-blooded tribute to his wife, the great pianist Clara Schumann. Born in 1810, Schumann wrote his concerto in the 1840s as a counterstroke to what he saw as the showy, narcissistic pyrotechnics championed by Lizst and Thalberg. Subtle, poetic and sincere, Schumann’s concerto could have been written with Houstoun in mind. He calls it “a sustained feast of heightened emotion”.
“If you like your joy to be ecstatic, your yearning infinite and your tenderness
heartbreaking this is the concerto for you,” Houstoun says.
The same year Schumann was born, Beethoven premiered his Egmont overture. Written for a play by his friend Goethe, Egmont’s story of struggle against oppression called forth some of Beethoven’s most heroic and exhilarating music.
In contrast, Rossini’s Barber of Seville fizzes with suppressed laughter and cheek in a comedy of amorous plots and love triumphant.
The Barber of Seville pops up unexpectedly in the VWO’s next work, Stravinsky’s Jeu de Cartes “Card Game”. It’s one of many musical quotes slyly worked into the texture of this witty Neoclassical ballet.Stravinsky called it, “a ballet in three deals.”
“The characters in this ballet are the cards in a game of poker, disputed between several players on the green baize table of a gaming house,” says Stravinsky. “At each deal the situation is complicated by the endless guiles of the perfidious Joker, who believes himself invincible because of his ability to become any desired card.”
Presented by Vector Wellington Orchestra In association with Craigs Investment Partners Saturday 24 July, Wellington Town Hall, 7.30pm Michael Houstoun, Piano, with Music Director Marc Taddei Beethoven – Egmont Overture Op 84 Schumann – Piano Concerto in A minor Op 54 Rossini – Barber of Seville Overture Stravinsky – Jeu de Cartes