Charles Owen & Katya Apekisheva

Dances Through Time

Part of London Piano Festival Fundraising Gala

Chopin Two Nocturnes Op. 62 (KA)
No. 1 in B
No. 2 in E
Chopin Waltzes (KA)
Waltz Op. 69, No. 1 in A flat
Waltz Op. 34, No. 1 in A flat
Liszt Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude (CO)
Stravinsky The Rite of Spring (KA & CO)

The LPF Artistic Directors open this gala concert with captivating solo works by two of the most iconic of all 19th Century piano composers; Frederic Chopin & Franz Liszt. Katya Apekisheva chooses pairs of Chopin’s Nocturnes & Waltzes to reveal their lyrical and dancelike qualities. Charles Owen focuses on Liszt’s Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude a profound meditation on spirituality, beauty and peace.

Stravinsky’s ground breaking, seminal ballet score The Rite of Spring will be performed in the composer’s own transcription for two pianos. This fascinating version reveals extra dimensions to the familiar masterpiece making it a thrilling, visceral concert experience.

This ticket is to stream this concert online. If you would like to watch the whole evening online, you can purchase both Charles & Katya and Bill Laurance’s performances for £14.50. To book a streaming ticket for Bill Laurance, please click here. The discounted total will be displayed when both events are added to your shopping basket.

Tickets within the hall for the London Piano Festival Fundraising Gala are also available, please see below for more details.

Programme Notes:

Two Nocturnes: Op. 62 in B & E
Waltz Op. 69 No. 1 in A flat
Waltz Op. 34 No. 1 in A flat
Katya Apekisheva

Chopin’s last Nocturnes were written in 1846, during his productive but embattled final year with Georges Sand at Nohant. Each breathes the harmonic daring of his late work, illustrated by the first chord of No. 1, whose curious, dorian-like mode evokes the strings of a lyre. It carries ambivalence in its gentle measures, and a sense of infinite exploration. No. 2 in E opens with spacious consolation, spinning bel canto lines, before entering an agitated development. A coda of improvisatory freedom concludes this jewel-like nocturne.

Despite its opus number, the wistful ‘Farewell’ Waltz in A flat Op. 69 No. 1 was actually written in the 1830s, a gift to Maria Wodzinska to whom Chopin was at one time engaged. The waltz Op. 34 No. 1, one of three Grande valses briliantes, is justly famous for its commanding opening, glittering cascades and a gaiety that aches with desperation.

Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude
Charles Owen

In his Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude (The blessing of God in Solitude) Liszt created an astonishing spiritual vision, handling the piano with orchestral grandeur. It’s part of the ten-movement cycle of religiously inspired works, Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (1845-51), the title of a poetry collection by Lamartine, words from which are quoted in the preface: ‘Whence comes, O God, this peace which overwhelms me? Whence comes its faith with which my heart overflows?’ While intimate and confessional, its soaring musical radicalism looks forward to Wagner and Debussy. Each of its episodes begins a third lower until the work returns to the home key of F sharp in a moment of shimmering ecstasy.

Le sacre de printemps (The Rite of Spring) arr. for four hands by the composer
I. The Adoration of the Earth – Introduction – Augurs of spring – Ritual of Abduction – Spring Rounds – Ritual of the rival tribes – Procession of the Sage – Dance of the Earth
II. The Exalted Sacrifice: Introduction – Mystic Circles of the Young Girls – Glorification of the Chosen One – Evocation of the Ancestors – Ritual Action of the Ancestors – Sacrifical Dance
Katya Apekisheva & Charles Owen

Stravinsky’s revolutionary ballet score, his paen to the violent nature of renewal, was famously first heard – by Ravel, Diaghilev, Debussy, Monteux – on a piano. For Debussy, it was an indelible encounter with genius: ‘I still preserve the memory of the performance of your Sacre de printemps… it haunts me like a beautiful nightmare and I try in vain to retrieve the terrifying impression it made.’  Monteux, on the other hand, shrank from its primal brutality. When stripped of its orchestral variety, ‘the crudity of the rhythms was emphasized, its stark primitiveness underlined.’ In his orchestral scoring Stravinsky had utilised groups of wind and brass to articulate pure sonority, sound that couldn’t be ‘interpreted’, and the piano remains an effective vehicle for expressing the essence of the work. As critic, Roland-Manuel, wrote following the Paris premiere: ‘In order to communicate to his work the somewhat hard brilliance, the enormous power of these primitive rites, … the musician had to break the hallowed canons, had deliberately to change the colour of his music, and all music.’

This duet is the blueprint of the entire work: if The Rite is a compendium of the ways pulse can be declared, then hearing it on two pianos reveals its scintillating polyrhythms, the inner workings of its patterning mechanisms and offers us a glimpse of the piece as it first exploded into being.

Notes by Helen Wallace (c) Kings Place

London Piano Festival Fundraising Gala

This concert is part of The London Piano Festival unique Fundraising Gala in aid of the 2021 festival. The evening features two concerts, the first of which features the Festival’s co-Artistic Directors Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen who will perform solo repertoire in the first half followed by duo repertoire in the second. Audience members at Kings Place will then join an exclusive reception upstairs in Kings Place’s canal-side Battlebridge Room, before jazz pianist Bill Laurance takes to the stage. If you would like to purchase an in-hall Gala evening ticket, please click here.

Charles Owen & Katya Apekisheva

Dances Through Time

Part of London Piano Festival Fundraising Gala