Violin and piano recital

Date: Sunday 27th June 2021

Time: 4pm

Venue: Maldon Festival 2021

Location: St Mary's Churchyard, Church Street, Maldon, Essex, CM9 5HP

Artists: Krassimira Jeliazkova-Jones - Violin Elizabeth Mucha - Piano

Louis Spohr                                                     Potpourri on Themes from  ‘Die Zauberflöte’, Op 50

Ludwig van Beethoven                               Sonata for piano and violin in C minor Op. 30, No 2

                                                                                          Allegro con brio – Adagio cantabile –

                                                                                          Scherzo & Trio – Finale: Allegro



Clara Schumann                                             Three Romances, Op 22

Robert Schumann                                          Fantasie, op 131

Mario Castelnuovo – Tedesco                  Concert transcription of  ‘Largo factotum’  from Rossini’s opera, ‘The Barber of Seville’

Concert life resumes!  It seems very apt that the first one this year should include music by Clara Schumann, a composer I got to know extremely well before lockdown while creating Art Sung – Clara Schumann for the London Song Festival in 2019.

I will be performing Clara’s Three Romances for violin and piano with my longstanding violinist colleague and friend, Krassimira Jeliazkova at Maldon Festival 2021. Alongside this, we will also play the ‘Fantasie’ by the other half of the famous Schumann couple– Robert! Both pieces were composed for their mutual good friend and colleague, virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim in 1853. Despite having the same composition year, Clara and Robert experienced that period very differently. In their new house in Düsseldorf, Clara had finally found some contentment.

She wrote in her diary, “Here in Düsseldorf, for the first time since we were married, I can finally compose and practise daily and not be a disturbance… There is nothing which surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound.” She also wrote the following, “Robert’s health improves and the sounds in his ears that frightened us both so much are almost gone.” 

Sadly however, Robert’s mental state of mind was deteriorating steadily to the point that on 27th February, 1854, he threw himself into the Rhine. He survived but a few days later had himself admitted to an asylum in Endenich, where he remained till his death in 2 years later. Originally composed for violin and orchestra, the ‘Fantasie’ was published and performed several times. However, after Schumann’s death it fell into neglect and is still little played. It was transcribed for violin and piano by the great virtuoso violinist and arranger, Fritz Kreisler.

The bookends for our programme are operatic transcriptions by composers little known today but highly regarded in their time. A highly influential figure in German music, Louis Spohr (1784-1859) was a much sought-after violinist, conductor and composer as well as an innovator.  He invented the chin rest, introduced the practice of using a baton to conduct an orchestra and advocated the use of rehearsal letters. His treatise on violin playing, “Violinschule” catalogued the latest advances in violin playing. Obviously a man of many talents!

The Potpourri on themes from Mozart’s “Magic Flute”, was originally composed in 1811 as the second movement of a sonata concertante for himself and his wife, Dorette Scheidler, considered to be one of the most important harpists of the early 19th century. This movement became hugely popular and in 1820 he transcribed it for violin and piano.The Potpourri only uses themes from the 2nd Act and includes Pamina’s well known aria, “Ach, ich fühl’s” and Papageno’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen”.

The programme ends with Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s whimsical adaptation of the aria, “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville”. Castelnuovo – Tedesco was one of the foremost guitar composers of the 20th century. Like many artists fleeing fascism, he ended up in Hollywood and, with the help of the great violin virtuoso, Jascha Heifetz, landed a contract with MGM studios. This transcription was originally composed for Heifetz and, not surprisingly, makes great technical demands on both violinist and pianist.

At the heart of our programme lies Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No 7 in C minor, which we programmed last year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth but alas as we all know, everything came to a grinding halt in March 2020. Composed in 1802, it was a period of great turmoil in Beethoven’s life as he truly started to confront his increasing deafness. In October 1802 the 28-year-old Beethoven wrote to his brothers in what is now known as the ‘Heiligenstadt testament’, expressing his utter despair:

“But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone standing next to me heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended my life – it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me”

Whether influence by this or not, this sonata certainly bear all the hallmarks which one might expect from Beethoven at the beginning of his middle period: dramatic gestures, moments of poignant questioning and an intensity which rarely abates especially in the 1st and 4th movements. In contrast, the lyrical 2nd movement in Ab major brings light and hope but still descends into questioning towards the end of the movement. The Scherzo and Trio look back to Beethoven’s classical roots in structure while throwing the listener off balance with unexpected accents.

Happy belated birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven.