Pavel Kolesnikov, Samson Tsoy piano
Franz Schubert: Andantino varie D823; Allegro in A minor ‘Lebensstürme’ D947; Impromptus 3 & 4 D899; Fantasie in F minor D940
Ludwig van Beethoven: 6 Variations on ‘Ich denke dein’ WoO 74; Sonata in E major op109
We’re delighted to welcome Pavel Kolesnikov back to Little Missenden for the third time, on this occasion with his duet partner Samson Tsoy, in a wonderful programme combining solo with fourhand piano-playing.
Piano duets were a popular social (and amorous) activity in early 19th century Vienna and music for four hands was very marketable. Schubert wrote almost as much in that form as he did for the solo instrument. It may indeed surprise us today to learn that only three of Schubert’s 28 piano sonatas were published in his lifetime.
The Schubert four-handers in the programme are marvellous examples of the genre and should be far better known. Andantino varie’s variations on a French theme have a chamber-like intimacy and, in their simplicity, charm us with their winning lightness and grace. The A minor Allegro 'Lebensstürme' couldn’t be more different. It’s fiery and dramatic and one of the composer’s most imposing sonata movements.
The F minor Fantasie is among Schubert’s finest piano works. From its haunting opening phrase, it contains some of his most sublime ideas. This masterpiece is by turns impassioned, sunny, carefree and dramatic.
His solo Impromptus are deservedly among Schubert’s most popular works today. But the two Pavel will be playing weren’t published until 30 years after his death. No3 is typically lyrical, with long melodic lines, while no4’s tender central theme is contained within the work’s animated outer sections.
Beethoven wrote very few works for piano duet. The Variations on Goethe’s poem ‘Ich denke dein’ written for two of his students, have an intimate, conversational feel – but it’s by no means a slight work and gives the players plenty to work on.
The op109 Sonata, one of his last works for solo piano, is in another league – at times it’s almost Haydnesque, yet its complex harmonies point forward to the 20th century. Sonata form is treated very freely: the beautiful theme of the third movement variations (twice as long as the first two movements put together) becomes a slow movement in its own right.
Programme Notes (also available at the concert free of charge)
Both renowned separately as soloists, Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy are also a fine duo whose early lockdown recital at Wigmore Hall was described in The Guardian as having a “quietly electrifying intimacy” in a 5-star review.
In 2012, Pavel became a sensation at the Honens International Piano Competition when he took home the world’s largest piano prize. He’s celebrated for his imaginative, thought-provoking programming which offers the listener a fresh, often unexpected perspective on familiar pieces. In 2019 he was awarded the Critics’ Circle Young Talent Award 2019 for piano, praised for his “intensely personal interpretations, often daring in their originality” and his “crusading vision”.
Samson Tsoy is lauded for the originality and intense drama of his interpretations. He’s increasingly well-known both as a soloist and a chamber musician. In 2019, he and Pavel launched a “seriously edgy, admirable and a must-see” (Classical Music Magazine) festival in East London ‘the Ragged Music Festival’ which received a 5-star review in The Independent.
Sat 15 Oct 2022 8.00pm
Little Missenden Church
£25, £18, £10