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
Thursday 27 May 2021
Max Bruch (1838-1920)
Kol Nidrei, Op. 47
Richard Georg Strauss (1864-1949)
Cello Sonata in F, Op. 6, TrV 115
Allegro con brio
Andante ma non troppo
Finale - Allegro vivo
Antonín Leopold Dvořák (1841-1904), arr. Isserlis
Four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75
Luise Adolpha Le Beau (1850-1927)
Cello Sonata in D, Op. 17
Though Bruch was an immensely successful musician in his lifetime, holding prestigious posts as a conductor and teacher alongside his composing, his reputation today rests upon three concertante works: his Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 26, his Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 and Kol Nidrei, Op. 47. Bruch was an exponent of the type of late nineteenth-century classicism of which Brahms is perhaps the father figure, updating Classical forms like sonatas and symphonies for the Romantic era. Many of the same characters known to Brahms were also important figures for Bruch: the cellist in Brahms’ Double Concerto, Robert Hausmann, was the dedicatee for Kol Nidrei; the great violinist Joseph Joachim, one of Brahms’ closest friends and collaborators, added bowings and fingerings for the Scottish Fantasy; and they shared the same publisher, Simrock.
Kol Nidrei was composed in 1880, at the beginning of Bruch’s three-year tenure as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The title is the name of the proclamation uttered by the congregation on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Its text is Aramaic (the parent language of Hebrew) and it dates from an ancient time of persecution, when Jews were forced to convert or die. Having first declared it ‘lawful to pray with sinners’ at the beginning of the service, they incant the Kol Nidrei, which states that 'All vows…are undone, abandoned, cancelled’; it was supposed to nullify the forced conversions (either to Christianity or Islam) that may have taken place.
Bruch was not Jewish, as he vehemently protested at a time of rising antisemitism in the late nineteenth century, but this was not enough to save his music from the Nazis. From 1933-45, his music was banned in all Nazi territories, and Bruch was branded a ‘possible Jew’. This had a lasting impact on his music’s posthumous legacy; ironically, Kol Nidrei being one of his best-known and loved works meant that his music became largely unknown in German-speaking countries.
The work is subtitled Adagio on Two Hebrew Melodies for Cello and Orchestra with Harp. In the first theme, based on the Kol Nidrei melody, the cello evokes the plaintive, heart-wrenching singing of the cantor, who chants the liturgy in synagogue. In the second, Bruch quotes Isaac Nathan’s setting of Lord Byron’s ‘O Weep for Those that Wept on Babel's Stream’ – from Byron’s collection Hebrew Melodies, which includes the famous poem She Walks in Beauty. The cello’s ability to recreate the inflections of an emotionally burdened human voice are exploited by Bruch in a work that cuts straight to the heart.
The enormous arc of Richard Strauss’s musical career began with the twilight years of the Romantic era, followed by an interlude in which he put forward his own brand of 20th-century modernism, and concluded with a retrospective later period when he returned to the romanticism of his youth. In his grand old age, he wryly commented, ‘I have outlived myself’. He is most famous as a composer on a grand scale: his operas Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome and his tone poems Don Juan, Ein Heldenleben, Eine Alpensinfonie and Also sprach Zarathustra are for extremely large orchestras. His expertise as a conductor is revealed in the complexity of his orchestral textures, with numerous intricate contrapuntal lines combining to create a sweep of orchestral colour. He also had a capacity for refinement, best exhibited in his Lieder with orchestral accompaniment – Morgen! from Op. 27, or the Four Last Songs which he wrote just before he died – where a singing line is expertly supported with pianissimo string textures and delicate touches of colour from the harp and woodwind.
The Cello Sonata in F dates from 1883, when Strauss was only 19, and a period in the years leading up to his twenty-fifth birthday in which he composed most of his chamber music. A first version was composed two years previously, for the Czech cellist Hans Wihan – a colleague of Strauss’ father Franz, who played principal horn in the Munich Court Orchestra, and subsequently also the dedicatee of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto.
For such an early work, a remarkable number of the hallmarks of Strauss’ late style are already in evidence in the Cello Sonata, from the heroic first theme in the first movement, to the long lyrical passages demonstrating Strauss’ ability to sustain melody across epic stretches of music, and the capricious waltzing swirls of the last movement, foreshadowing his short, mischievous tone poem Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche composed twelve years later. The middle movement, Andante ma non troppo, is the outlier, standing apart for its more classical melodic style and at times evoking something of Mendelssohn’s later years.
Dvořák’s initial success had come as a result of submitting his works to scrutiny by established members of the Germanic tradition: though he was already well-regarded in Prague, it was his winning of the Austrian State Prize for Composition in 1874, 1876 and 1877, with Brahms and Eduard Hanslick on the panel, that cemented his reputation and resulted in a deal with Brahms’ publisher, Simrock. One of the first works published by Simrock was the Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, recalling the early success Brahms had had with his Hungarian Dances, but also positioning Dvořák as an exotic, Eastern European voice within the field of European art music (though Dvořák frequently argued with Simrock, who was reluctant to publish both Czech and German-language editions of his compositions). There was an enormous appetite in the sheet music market for Dvořák’s piano and chamber music — helped by champions such as violinist Joseph Joachim and conductor Hans Richter — and, before long, Dvořák was being commissioned by the Vienna Philharmonic (for the Sixth Symphony) and conducting his work in Britain and the United States.
Dvořák composed the Four Romantic Pieces in 1887, as he was approaching the peak of his international fame (four years later he would receive an honorary degree from the University of Cambridge, and the year after that would begin a stint as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York). Yet the pieces' origins are quaint, domestic, and rather charming. Dvořák lived in a multigenerational household in Prague with his family and his mother-in-law. A spare room was rented to a young chemistry student, Josef Kruis. Kruis was a keen amateur violinist who studied with Jan Pelikán, a member of the National Theatre Orchestra, with whom he often played duets. For a little light domestic entertainment, Dvořák decided to compose some trios for two violins and viola, in which the composer would play viola. These became his Miniatures, four short character pieces which Dvořák said he enjoyed composing every bit as much as one of his large symphonies. Within a week, he had arranged them for violin and piano, and promptly forgot all about the trio version – it was only premiered in 1938, having previously been thought to be lost.
The original trio version had more descriptive titles: Cavatina, Capriccio, Romance and Elegy or Ballad. Despite his more neutral titles for the Four Romantic Pieces, all Italian tempo markings, Dvořák left the essential musical content of the pieces unchanged, but for a few harmonic tweaks in the first piece and an extension of four bars in the third piece. The Four Romantic Pieces exude the easy confidence of a composer in his prime, with extraordinarily fluent, natural-sounding melody and clearly defined, instantly recognisable characters in each piece: the Allegro moderato is wistful and yearning; the Allegro maestoso has a sinister fairytale quality, playful and mysterious; the third movement is sentimental and earnest; and the final Larghetto is a sobbing, heartfelt romance.
The life of Luise Adolpha Le Beau weaves a thread between many of the most influential names of nineteenth-century German musical life. These encounters – Brahms, Liszt, Joachim, Clara Schumann, Anton Rubinstein – are chronicled in her memoirs from 1910, Lebenserinnerungen einer Komponistin (‘Memoirs of a Female Composer’). The title suggests what we might have already guessed: being a female composer in the nineteenth century was an unusual, difficult and exceptional thing.
Although Le Beau had made her concerto debut as a pianist at the age of 18, much of her adult life was spent in pursuit of further study, opportunity and contacts. Aged 23 she spent a summer studying with Clara Schumann (they did not get on), and at 26 she and her family moved to Munich so that she could study with Gabriel Rheinberger – on the recommendation of none other than Hans von Bülow, perhaps the nineteenth century’s most celebrated conductor. The experience was not all it could have been; she was not permitted to study with the otherwise all-male collegiate body, and was instead tutored separately.
Ultimately, Le Beau struggled to sustain musical relationships with the other musicians of Munich, and was wanting for work. Now aged forty, Le Beau and her parents moved to Berlin in 1890, where she was nominated for the position of chair of the Royal School of Music – though it was a position for which she was ineligible as a woman, and was thus awarded to another nominee. Alongside her performing and composing, Le Beau wrote for the Allgemeine Deutsche Musikzeitung as a critic, until she could no longer put up with the interfering and patronising changes made to her prose by her editor.
Aged forty-three, she and her parents settled in Baden-Baden, and her father and mother died three and seven years later, respectively. Aside from a few years in Italy, possibly in a romantic tryst with singer Alfredo de’Giorgio, she lived out the rest of her years in the German spa town where Beethoven sought relief for his failing health, and which honoured her by naming its music library after her.
The Cello Sonata in D dates from 1883, when Le Beau was approaching her most successful period (a few years later, some of her works would be played as far afield as Sydney and Istanbul). It won first prize in a notable competition, and it is a rich, Schumannesque contribution to the Romantic sonata repertoire for cello and piano. A stormy first movement, swirling figuration and impassioned melody passed between the cello and piano, is followed by a noble, lamenting slow movement in which the cello takes the tune. Though lighter and more playful than the previous movements, the finale is nevertheless a heroic conclusion to this ardent, deeply-felt sonata.
Steven Isserlis, cello
Acclaimed worldwide for his profound musicianship and technical mastery, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a uniquely varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, author and broadcaster. He appears with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, and gives recitals in major musical centres. As a chamber musician, he has curated concert series for many prestigious venues, including London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s 92nd St Y, and the Salzburg Festival. Unusually, he also directs chamber orchestras from the cello in classical programmes.
He has a strong interest in historical performance, working with many period-instrument orchestras and giving recitals with harpsichord and fortepiano. He is also a keen exponent of contemporary music and has given many premieres of new works, including Sir John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil and many other works, Thomas Adès’s Lieux retrouvés, three works for solo cello by György Kurtág, and pieces by Heinz Holliger and Jörg Widmann.
Steven’s wide-ranging discography includes J S Bach’s complete solo cello suites (Gramophone’s Instrumental Album of the Year), Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, concertos by C P E Bach and Haydn, the Elgar and Walton concertos, and the Brahms double concerto with Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
Since 1997, Steven has been Artistic Director of the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove, Cornwall. He also enjoys playing for children, and has created three musical stories, with the composer Anne Dudley. His two books for children, published by Faber & Faber, have been translated into many languages; his latest book for Faber is a commentary on Schumann’s Advice for Young Musicians, and a book about the Bach suites will appear in 2021. He has also devised and written two evenings of words and music, one describing the last years of Robert Schumann, the other devoted to Marcel Proust and his salons, and has presented many programmes for radio, including documentaries about two of his heroes – Robert Schumann and Harpo Marx.
The recipient of many awards, Steven’s honours include a CBE in recognition of his services to music, the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau, the Piatigorsky Prize and Maestro Foundation Genius Grant in the U.S, the Glashütte Award in Germany, the Gold Medal awarded by the Armenian Ministry of Culture, and the Wigmore Medal.
Steven plays the ‘Marquis de Corberon’ Stradivarius of 1726, on loan from the Royal Academy of Music.
Sam Haywood, piano
Sam Haywood has performed to critical acclaim in many of the world’s major concert halls. The Washington Post hailed his ‘dazzling, evocative playing’ and ‘lyrical sensitivity’ and the New York Times his ‘passionate flair and sparkling clarity’. He embraces a wide spectrum of the piano repertoire and is equally at home as a soloist or chamber musician, using modern or period instruments.
He has recorded two solo albums for Hyperion, one featuring the piano music of Julius Isserlis (grandfather of Steven Isserlis) and the other Charles Villiers Stanford’s preludes. His passion for period instruments led to a recording on Chopin’s own Pleyel piano, part of the Cobbe Collection.
In 2013 Haywood co-founded Solent Music Festival in UK. The annual Lymington-based festival features highly varied programmes and projects in the local community. Guest artists have included the King’s Singers, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Steven Isserlis, Anthony Marwood, Michael Portillo, Mark Padmore and the Elias Quartet.
He was mentored by David Hartigan, Paul Badura-Skoda and Maria Curcio. Following his early success in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, the Royal Philharmonic Society awarded him the Julius Isserlis Scholarship. He studied both at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna and at the Royal Academy of Music in London, of which he is an Associate (ARAM).
As a composer Haywood has written several miniatures for piano. ‘The Other Side’ was recently premiered in the Konzerthaus in Vienna and the ‘Song of the Penguins’, dedicated to Roger Birnstingl, is published by Emerson Editions. His invention ‘memorystars®’ can significantly reduce the time needed to memorise a music score.
His other passions include literature, physics, natural history, technology, magic, fountain pens and table tennis. Originally from the English Lake District, he now lives in Kent with his wife Sophia, their baby son James and cockapoo puppy Poppy.
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.”