Bandstand Chamber Festival and St John's Waterloo present:
CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust (sponsors of Community Tickets scheme)
The Neville Abraham Foundation
The Carne Trust
Dasha Shenkman OBE
With thanks to
Maggini Quartet Charitable Fund
Thomas and Megan Tress
St John’s Waterloo
Please follow social distancing protocol and wear a mask at all times.
There are no public toilets available at St John’s Waterloo. The nearest toilets are in Waterloo Station. Please do not film the concerts.
Spotlight Chamber Concerts
Spotlight Chamber Concerts and the Waterloo Festival bring some of the world’s finest classical musicians to the safely socially-distanced interior of one of London’s landmark churches, St John’s Waterloo. With dramatic lighting centred only on the performers and seating in the round, the audience is invited to focus solely on the immersive experience of live music in this series of late-evening concerts and recitals.
This series was founded by Anthony Friend in 2020, and is an initiative of the Maggini Quartet Charitable Fund.
27 May 2021 (originally 19 December 2021)
4 June 2021
Solem Quartet & Friends
8 June 2021
Doric String Quartet
11 June 2021
Alina Ibragimova & Samson Tsoy
17 June 2021
23 June 2021
Anthony Marwood, Hélène Clément & Tim Posner
24 June 2021
Steven Isserlis & Sam Haywood
Friday 11 June 2021
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Sonata for Violin and Piano in F, Op. 24, ‘Spring’
Adagio molto espressivo
Scherzo: Allegro molto
Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A, Op. 47, 'Kreutzer'
Adagio sostenuto – Presto
Andante con variazioni
Beethoven’s Sonata in F, Op. 24 was the first of his sonatas for violin and piano to be billed as a ‘Violin Sonata’, rather than a piano sonata with violin accompaniment. It was composed between 1800 and 1801, by which time Beethoven had already composed four violin sonatas, two cello sonatas, his first 11 published piano sonatas, his first symphony and three piano concertos. By number this may not be such an extraordinary achievement for a 30-year-old composer (it is certainly nothing on Mozart), but these are all large-scale, progressive works that expanded the forms of earlier Classical-period music. He was a young man eager to make his mark on Viennese musical culture, which had for so long been dominated by Haydn and Mozart. At around this time he wrote, ‘I live entirely in my music, and hardly have I completed one composition than I have already begun another. At my present rate of composing, I often produce three or four works at a time.’
For all their groundbreaking qualities, the first four violin sonatas sat slightly uneasily between Haydn’s and Mozart’s grace and Beethoven’s rather more brash, rhetorical early style, and had not been well-received in Viennese musical circles. One reviewer wrote after hearing the first three, published together as Op. 12, that he felt ‘like a man who had wandered through an alluring forest and at last emerged tired and worn out’. In the Sonata in F, which has earned the posthumous nickname ‘Spring Sonata’, Beethoven seems to have redoubled his efforts to impress - but now resorting to charm over shock.
The opening violin melody flits between sustained notes using ornamental flourishes, like a bird hopping between branches. This mellifluence is something of a rarity in Beethoven’s music: a sweet, sustained melody which unfolds over the course of a musical sentence, rather than a short motif spun out (think of his first piano sonata, or later his fifth symphony). This feels like ‘slow music’ in spite of the Allegro tempo marking, which is suddenly awakened when the livelier second theme arrives: exciting rising chords in the piano, two springtime fanfares and six staccato falling crotchets. This motif is then thoroughly developed alongside fragments of the opening melody, the two of them taking unexpected harmonic turns as they are woven together.
The Adagio molto espressivo places a contemplative melody in B-flat major over undulating arpeggiations, first in the piano with gentle violin interjections, and then alternating between the two instruments with increasingly ornate variations and bold reharmonisation. The extremely brief Scherzo is capricious, its nervy rhythmic games and exciting rising figures contrasting with the poise and elegance of the final movement’s Rondo theme. This theme receives variation treatment over the course of the movement, interspersed with wonderfully engaging triplet figuration in the episodes, and gains more and more momentum as it approaches its thrilling conclusion.
Unlike the ‘Spring’ sonata, the ‘Kreutzer’ sonata was originally described by Beethoven as a piano sonata with violin obligato – though its extreme technical difficulties are shared equally between the two instruments. It is another sonata with a nickname, but one given by Beethoven himself rather than attributed posthumously. The violinist George Bridgetower (1778-1860) was a British violinist of African descent, and greatly admired by Beethoven, who dedicated the work to him. However, the ‘Bridgetower Sonata’ became the ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ after Bridgetower insulted a woman Beethoven knew whilst they were out drinking together. Not a man to compromise his principles, Beethoven instead re-dedicated the work to French violinist and composer Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831), who detested it and declared it entirely unintelligible.
It is undoubtedly Beethoven’s grandest, most heroic violin sonata; composed in 1803, shortly before he begun work on the ‘Eroica’ Symphony, it is one of his middle-period works where a musical protagonist seems to be fighting off unseen forces. In Beethoven’s case, his middle-period was defined by his realisation that he was losing his hearing, bringing an end to his glittering career as a keyboard virtuoso and seemingly threatening his future as a composer. In an astonishing feat of musical dramatisation, Beethoven manages to share the protagonist role between the violinist and the pianist, each taking their turn to battle the odds.
The first movement’s slow introduction seems to be searching for a way in to the piece, exploring remote harmonies and pausing for cadenzas. When the Presto begins, however, it is an unrelenting surge of dramatic energy, cut through with virtuosic figuration for both instruments and unleashing the full fury of the instruments’ sonority. The middle movement is a theme and four variations, each emerging seamlessly from the last, and Beethoven the great keyboard improviser showcasing his ability to spin figurations over a melody like spider’s silk. The finale is an urgent, excitable Presto in 6/8 time, a joyous fanfare motif locked into a tarantella dance rhythm. The music is propelled continually onwards by the repeated, bouncing quavers, rolling lines of scales and Beethoven’s determined avoidance of predictability.
Alina Ibragimova, violin
Performing music from baroque to new commissions on both modern and period instruments, Alina Ibragimova has established a reputation for versatility and the “immediacy and honesty” (The Guardian) of her performances. Highlights of the 2021/22 season include returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestra; debuts with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and St Petersburg Philharmonic; and appearances at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and Vienna’s Konzerthaus and Wigmore Hall.
Recent seasons have seen Alina perform with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, London Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Swedish Radio Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; collaborating with conductors Vladimir Jurowski, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Jakob Hrůša, Robin Ticciati, Daniel Harding, Edward Gardner and Bernard Haitink.
In recital, Alina has appeared at Southbank Centre, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Salzburg’s Mozarteum, Vienna’s Musikverein, Carnegie Hall, Pierre Boulez Saal and the Royal Albert Hall where she performed Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin as part of the BBC Proms. Her longstanding partnership with pianist Cédric Tiberghien has seen the duo tour extensively worldwide and win acclaim for their traversals of sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven, both live and on record. Alina is also a founding member of the Chiaroscuro Quartet – one of the most sought-after period ensembles.
Alina’s discography on Hyperion Records ranges from Bach Concertos with Arcangelo through to Prokofiev Sonatas with Steven Osborne. Her 2020 album of Shostakovich Violin Concertos with Vladimir Jurowski and the State Academy Symphony Orchestra of Russia received a Gramophone Editor’s Choice, Diapason d’Or and was one of The Times’ Discs of the Year. Her 2021 recording of Paganini’s 24 Caprices topped the classical album charts on its release.
Born in Russia in 1985, Alina studied at the Moscow Gnesin School before moving to the UK where she attended the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal College of Music. Her teachers have included Natasha Boyarsky, Gordan Nikolitch and Christian Tetzlaff. Alina’s many awards include the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award 2010, the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award 2008, the Classical BRIT and Young Performer of the Year Award 2009. An alumnus of the BBC New Generation Artists Scheme (2005-07), she was made an MBE in the 2016 New Year Honours List. Alina performs on a c.1775 Anselmo Bellosio violin kindly provided by Georg von Opel.
Samson Tsoy, piano
Lauded for the originality and intense drama of his interpretations, pianist Samson Tsoy has already been invited to perform with renowned conductors including Valery Gergiev with the Mariinsky Orchestra, Alexander Vedernikov with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Diego Masson as part of Philharmonia Orchestra’s “Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals” series, Junajo Mena with the Real Filharmonía de Galicia and Roberto Minczuk with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Both as a soloist and chamber musician Samson has appeared in prestigious venues and festivals around the world including the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Theatre de la Ville and Salle Gaveau (Paris), Aldeburgh festival, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Verbier Festival, Sala Verdi, Montreaux September Musical Festival, Plush Festival, Honens Festival and the Rostropovich Festival. In September 2019, together with his partner Pavel Kolesnikov he 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.
The 2020 global pandemic changed calendar of every artist; during the summer of 2020 Samson Tsoy performed at the Wigmore Hall lockdown recital series in June, at Fidelio Orchestra Cafe in July and at Bold Tendencies’ multi-storey car park in August and September. Each recital was highly praised by London press with 5-star reviews in the Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Observer and The Arts Desk.
Samson Tsoy graduated from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and the Royal College of Music in London. He has also worked under the guidance of Maria João Pires and Elisabeth Leonskaja. In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious National President’s Order “Young Talent of Russia”; he is also a laureate of the Santander Paloma O’Shea International Piano Competition, a winner of the Campillos International Piano Competition and a recipient of the Milstein Medal Award. He was a City Music Foundation Artist from 2015 to 2019.
St John's Waterloo
St John’s, the church on the roundabout at Waterloo, was built in 1824 for Waterloo’s working people and rebuilt in 1951 as the church of the Festival of Britain: a beacon of hope and resilience. Today, more than ever, it is responding to the needs of London’s diverse communities as a church, a charity and a well-known music and arts venue, committed to being here for everyone.
St John’s Artistic Director Euchar Gravina said: “St John’s is a well-known music venue and runs the annual Waterloo Festival. In these challenging times, we’re finding new ways of bringing hope and new ways to serve through a year-round programme co-curated by artists and performers whose aim is to create stronger communities as well as creating art.”