Viola partnerships at St.Andrew’s

St. Andrews on the Terrace Lunchtime Concert Series
“Classical Strings, Viola Partnerships, bowed, plucked and struck”

Donald Maurice and Victoria Jaenecke – violas
Jane Curry classical – guitar
Jian Liu – piano

 Franz Schubert (1797-1828) – Arpeggione Sonata in A
Donald Maurice and Jane Curry
 Anton Wranitzky (1761-1820) – Concerto in C for two violas (1st movement)
Donald Maurice, Victoria Jaenecke and Jian Liu
Boris Pigovat (born 1953)  – Sonata 2012 (premiere of 2nd and 3rd movements)
Donald Maurice and Jian Liu

 Wednesday 14 August 2013

This was an intriguing programme presented by three faculty members from the NZ School of Music plus Victoria Jaenecke, principal viola of  the Wellington Orchestra. It opened with a viola and guitar transcription of Schubert’s sonata which was originally scored for piano and arpeggione, a bowed, fretted 6-string instrument, rather like a bowed guitar. The version presented here sat very comfortably with the transformed instrumentation, despite the tonal balance being tipped at times in favour of  the stronger viola timbre.

The Allegro moderato was delightfully melodious and light hearted, followed by beautifully sympathetic phrasing and dynamics for the poetry of the Adagio. The players took full advantage of the contrasting moods offered by the rondo form of the final Allegretto,  moving with affection and grace between the lilting principal section and the scampering, almost gypsy idioms of the contrasting parts. This was Schubert delivered with a lively grace and musicianship that must surely be an inspiration to the students of both teachers, quite apart from the obvious delight of the audience.

Wranitzky was a pupil of both Mozart and Haydn, and an accomplished violinist and violist. He wrote a great deal of chamber music and a number of string concerti, including this double viola work played here with piano realisation. The Allegro was an interesting and attractive movement, delivered with effortless mastery of its considerable technical demands. The bright and vigorous conversations between the players were warm and rich, comfortably filling the hall, although passagework in the lower register of the second viola part was sometimes swamped by the brighter tone and upper register of the first. Again a happy and inspirational performance much appreciated by the listeners.

The most powerful item in this programme was undoubtedly the Sonata 2012 by the Ukrainian born, Israeli composer Boris Pigovat. The initially dark, brooding mood of the Con ira was soon fractured when Donald Maurice and Jian Liu threw themselves into the dissonance of its explosive development, where frenetic anger and resentment poured out to riveting effect. The movement’s huge technical demands were masterfully subordinated to the  passionate violence of its delivery, which was quite literally breathtaking.

So too was the complete contrast of the contemplative solo viola voice as it spoke so expressively to the sudden calm of the following Misterioso.  The poignant opening melody was picked up with exquisite poetry by the piano, and the wistful beauty of the ensuing conversation led the work through to a very moving conclusion.

The Sonata 2012 is dedicated to Donald Maurice, who will give the world premiere of the complete work at the International Viola Congress in Krakow next month. This will be followed by a special concert in Warsaw presented by the New Zealand Embassy as part of events marking forty years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Donald Maurice and Richard Mapp have recorded Sonata 2012 for Atoll, and the CD will be launched at that commemorative concert. I have no doubt it will be a CD well worth waiting for.

This was an exceptional concert which showcased an unusually interesting programme and outstanding musicians. The good turnout for the event and the enthusiasm of the audience made it clear that they really appreciated the privilege of being offered such an event.
























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