Pärt + Shostakovich

Ludwig Van Beethoven // Piano Sonata No. 14, Op. 27, No. 2

Arvo Pärt // Spiegel im Spiegel  

Dmitri Shostakovich // Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor  

  1. Andante - Moderato - Poco più mosso
  2. Allegro con brio
  3. Largo
  4. Allegretto - Adagio

Three of Australia’s most awarded classical performers come together for the opening night of Play On Series Three. At the helm on piano is Australian born, Manchester trained, Tristan Lee. Internationally recognised for his distinctive style and musicianship, he has performed throughout Europe, including critically acclaimed performances at London’s Wigmore Hall. Joining him on cello is Blair Harris. A regular with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, he has performed as a soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria, and recorded extensively for ABC Classic FM. Completing the line up on violin is powerhouse Francesca Hiew, formerly of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and currently violinist with the Australian String Quartet, she has appeared as a soloist with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria.

Headlined by these stellar young performers, the program will kick off with Beethoven’s legendary solo Piano Sonata No. 14 (nicknamed Moonlight). The piece was premiered by Beethoven himself in 1801, and was structurally and stylistically unconventional for its time; the opening dream-like movement giving way to a tempestuous and almost frenzied final third movement. By the time of the work’s premiere Beethoven had already begun to lose his hearing, and he played the closing movement with such force that several of the piano’s strings snapped and became entangled with the hammers. Beethoven dedicated the work to his student – the 16, year old aristocrat Countess Giulietta Guicciardi – with whom he was in love.

Throughout the 1960s Estonian composer Arvo Pärt experimented with contemporary avant-garde musical ideas like atonalism (including serialism), and neo-classicism. By the late-1970s he had abandoned these ideas and begun to investigate the musical traditions he was most drawn to – Gregorian chant, harmonic simplicity and his Russian Orthodox faith. What emerged was Pärt’s distinctive musical voice, which embraced elements of both the ancient and the avant-garde. The composer called his style “tintinnabuli” – music of ‘little bells,’ and Spiegel im Spiegel (composed in 1978) demonstrates this style. Meditative, spare and profound, the piece is serenely simple in both its structure and tonalities. The endlessly repeating fragments in the piano part reference the peaceful recurring triplets in the opening of the Moonlight Sonata.

Rounding off the set is the 1944 Piano Trio No.2 (piano, violin, cello), from the celebrated Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich who, unlike so many of Russia’s brilliant artists, did not flee Stalin’s oppressive dictatorship. Born in Saint Petersburg in 1906, he was approaching the peak of his creative powers when Stalin came to power. Shostakovich’s music is often interpreted for its hidden dissident meaning and he remains an iconic and enduring figure. In this second piano trio we see the composer’s signature style, as he progresses through a range of moods and colours; bombastic, grotesque and exaggerated, folksy, urgent, strident, but also poignant, tragic and sombre.

Tristan Lee // Piano

Blair Harris // Cello

Francesca Hiew // Violin