simon ireson

Pictures from Hungary

Pictures from Hungary Concert 9th July 2016

Tickets cost £12.50 (£10 for concessions) and are available from:
Norwich Theatre Royal – 01603 630000
Prelude Records – St. Giles Street, Norwich – 01603 628319
St George’s Music Shop – St George’s Street, Norwich – 01603 626414

Featuring pianist Simon Ireson, who will be performing the piano concerto ‘Ungarische Zigeunerweisen‘ (1892) by Sophie Menter. A student of Franz Liszt, he described Menter as “my only legitimate piano daughter”. Born in Munich in 1846 to her cellist father and singer mother, Sophie quickly became a distinguished pianist. She first performed in public with Weiber’s ‘Kozertstück’ for piano and orchestra at the age of fifteen, and went on to achieve great acclaim for her interpretation of Liszt’s piano music at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Anton Rubinstein called her “the sole ruler of all piano keys and hearts.” She toured widely and first appeared in England in 1881, returning two years later to receive an honorary membership of the Philharmonic Society. Shortly after, she became professor of piano at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

Sophie composed various pieces for the piano, whilst describing herself as having a “miserable talent for composing”. Tchaikovsky was well acquainted with Sophie and even dedicated a score to her. He clearly did not entirely agree with Sophie’s opinion of her abilities since he took her two piano “Ungarische Zigeunerweisen”, composed in 1885, and arranged the second piano part for orchestra. He also conducted the premiere of this work in Odessa in 1893 with Sophie as soloist.

The work itself contains a small collection of melodies. It is clearly inspired by Liszt’s ‘Hungarian Fantasy‘ with the opening being remarkably similar. After the initial tidal wave of notes in the first cadenza, the Andante chords present the main theme. After the Allegro variation there is another cadenza before a dance-like tune is played, followed by the orchestra joining in enthusiastically. The Andante theme returns during another cadenza before a beautiful run of arpeggios culminates in cascading scales, which lead to a single note on the piano. From here the running octaves on the piano lead the piece towards the Coda, again returning to the original theme, however now with much more energy. The final few moments recall the opening and the whole work is brought to a resounding close with a rising chromatic scale.