The Complete Chopin Sonatas Meet Ligeti Etudes
June 29th 2020
Chopin’s three Piano Sonatas are set in relief by two of György Ligeti’s Piano Etudes, with pianist Julian Jacobson.
The highly charged Romanticism of Chopin and the intricately sculpted abstract modernism of Ligeti might seem to have little in common.
Jacobson proposes that they share a richly creative and exploratory use of the piano and an unparalleled mastery of keyboard texture.
He presents Chopin’s two mature sonatas – the heroic, stormy opus 35, with the funeral march at its heart, and the serenely beautiful opus 58, written towards the end of the composer’s brief life, alongside his early student work, the opus 4 Sonata.
Chopin’s first piano sonata, written at the age of sixteen, has been almost totally overshadowed by his two great later sonatas.
Nevertheless, it is full of tantalising glimpses of Chopin’s mature style and already displays his genius as a pianist and writer for the piano.
These works are interspersed with two of Ligeti’s endlessly inventive Piano Etudes.
Jacobson himself gave the critically acclaimed first UK performance of Book One of the Etudes at Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1987. His recording for BBC Radio 3 was highly praised by the composer.
In recent years Jacobson has become widely admired as a performer of Beethoven, including his three celebrated ‘marathon’ performances of all 32 in a single day, and as Chairman of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe.
In this recital he returns to his early love of Chopin as well as reliving his commitment to Ligeti’s Etudes.
More info: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/128320-complete-chopin-sonatas-meet-ligeti-etudes-2020
Julian’s 2019 Valentine Concert at St James Piccadilly.
Friday February 15, 7.30 pm
After a gap in 2018 while Julian was busy with his 70th birthday series, he is reviving his annual Valentine concert with a programme of much-loved Mozart masterpieces, a wonderful team of soloists and the youthful, brilliant Horton Chamber Orchestra.
Mozart: Piano Quartet in G minor K478
Mozart: Piano Concerto in C, K467 “Elvira Madigan”*
Mozart: Sinfonia Concerto for violin, viola and orchestra**
Three Premieres for Julian’s “American in Paris” transcription
November 11th 2018, 6 pm, Munich
Klavierwerkstatt GmbH Dorfstraße 39 / Hofgebäude 81247 Munich Telephone 089 – 74 68 92 34 Fax 089 – 74 66 58 48
Performing Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto with the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra in China, June 2018
Bach: Prelude & Fugue in B flat BWV 890 (“48” Book 2)
Debussy: Images Book 2
Granados: The Maiden and the Nightingale (Goyescas no.4)
Albéniz: Triana (Iberia no.6)
Contemporary music from Italy and Russia, played by Henri Bonamy (piano)
Gershwin: An American in Paris, transcr. Julian Jacobson for piano four hands, with Henri Bonamy (German premiere)
November is a busy month for Julian. On November 11th he performs in Munich, Germany, the programme to include the German premiere of his virtuoso transcription for piano duet of Gershwin’s much-loved “An American in Paris” with Henri Bonamy as well as solo music by Bach, Debussy, Granados and Albéniz. A week later he returns to the Scots Kirk in Paris where he gave his 70th birthday concert on November 18 2017, this time with his regular duo partner Mariko Brown, giving the French premiere of “An American in Paris” in the city where he finished the transcription three years ago.
On the day after his Munich concert, November 12th, Julian is directing a festival devoted to the complete solo piano music of Leonard Bernstein in his centenary year, at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Some 20 students will perform the complete “Anniversaries”, the Piano Sonata, “Touches”, and the Four Sabras, and Julian will give an illustrated talk on Bernstein as Pianist. The day will finish with two of Julian’s students performing the brilliant two-piano transcription of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
At the end of the month he returns to Taiwan and China. On December 1st he will make his second appearance as International Senior Artistic Advisory Consultant to the Xia Jing Shan Arts and Culture Foundation, followed by the Chinese premiere on December 7 of “An American in Paris” in Shenzhen with Julian’s former student Boya Yang.
The American in Paris transcription is at the final stages of proofreading and the published copy (Schott/Bardic) should be on sale very soon, joining Julian’s very successful transcription of Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody.
70th birthday series in London, October 2017 – March 2018
St Johnʼs Smith Square, 26 November 2017 Review
“To celebrate his 70th birthday, Julian Jacobson has been giving a series of recitals at St John’s Smith Square. In his hands, the opening Allegro of Schubert’s Sonata in D major D850 went like a whirlwind, with powerful waves of semi-quaver triplets crashing on to big chordal rocks; in the Andante, there was steel in his sound at the outset, and intense charm on its decorated return. He met inventively the challenge of the Scherzo – how to colour and characterise different stations along the movement’s meandering route – and his delivery of the tongue-in-cheek metronomic finale was fanciful.”
Review of the second concert on November 26
“In the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata Jacobson’s sound had a restrained grandeur, and – as he had promised before beginning that work – he included a note in the Allegretto’s theme which nobody else has thought to observe, but which even glance at the manuscript would confirm as Beethoven’s intention. So what if it resulted in that harmonic no-no, consecutive fifths? So what indeed. After all this, Prokofiev’s seventh sonata gave him the excuse for a lot more virtuosity; the second movement became a tone poem, and the finale was a pure distillation of volcanic energy. Nice to round things off with Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major, nobly conceived.”
—Michael Church, International Piano Magazine
After two very succesful concerts in October and November, Julian’s 70th birthday series at St John’s Smith Square London concludes with two final concerts on February 11 and March 11. For the last concert he is joined by his duo partner Mariko Brown for the public London premiere of his own virtuoso piano duet transcription of Gershwin’s great tone poem “An American in Paris” – complete with taxi horns!
More info about Julian Jacobson and Mariko Brown as a piano duo here: https://marikojulianpianoduo.com/
“…Jacobson’s focused, colourful playing brought alive Beethoven’s late gems with thrilling drama…”
Read more here…..
Musical Opinion Quarterly
“…A disarming technique coupled with an undoubted intellectual mastery
made Julian Jacobson’s recital an awe-inspiring experience…”
“…Real poise, delicacy of touch and judicious pedalling… stylish and enchanting…”
“…this major British voice in world-ranking pianism, so justly celebrated by his faithful following…”
Music & Vision Daily