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Brahms Today – Concert by Ensemble Des Equilibres

28 April, 2023 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

The view of three contemporary composers Graciane Finzi, Nicolas Bacri and Philippe Hersant on the triptych of Brahms’ sonatas

In an exclusive commission from the Ensemble Des Equilibres, Nicolas Bacri, Graciane Finzi and Philippe Hersant echo Brahms’ sonatas, each taking inspiration from one of them for three exceptional and original creations.

The unique interpretation of Brahms’ work by each composer is highlighted in a collaborative work:

  • Philippe Hersant has chosen to write on Brahms’ first sonata
  • Nicolas Bacri has chosen to write on the second sonata of Brahms
  • Graciane Finzi has chosen to write on Brahms’ third sonata

 

Programme of concert:

  • Philippe Hersant Sonata Regenlied – 2018 for violin and piano
  • Nicolas Bacri, Sonata No. 4 op. — 2017-18 for violin and piano (Editions Alphonse Leduc)
  • Graciane Finzi, Sonate Winternacht – 2018 for violin and piano

 

NOTE OF INTENT FROM THE THREE COMPOSERS

 

PHILIPPE HERSANT – Sonata Regenlied for violin and piano (2018)

To Agnès Pyka and Laurent Wagschal

Since a long time, I like to write pieces that are inspired by historical works. I did this several times, with my Trio (a piece based on “The Bells of St. Genevieve by Marin Marais), with my 4th string quartet, that draws its inspiration from Beethoven’s 8th Quartet, or with my Psaum 130 that recalls Bach’s chorale “Aus tiefer Not”.

Therefore, I accepted with great pleasure the Des Equilibres ensemble’s proposal to write a piece for violin and piano echoing one of Bach’s three sonatas.

As for me, I would like to choose “Regenlied” as an inspiration, which is a wonderful melody used by Brahms in the finale of his First Sonata.”

 

NICOLAS BACRI – Sonata for violin and piano n°4, Opus 148 (2017-2018)

To Agnès Pyka and Laurent Wagschal

“I discovered Brahms when I was about 8-10 years old with the Quintet in F minor Op.34. I loved it. Later, my schoolteacher introduced me to Russian music. Stravinsky became my main interest after “The Five”. It was only at the age of seventeen that I became truly familiar with Brahms’ symphonies, and so a love for his chamber music followed along. His chamber music will forever remain an unmatched landmark in terms of balance between tradition and innovation: for its language, depth, and communicability, for its aesthetics, instrumentality, and vocal style, as well as for its approach of sound design.

Brahms’ chamber music is part of a series of masterpieces such as Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Schuman. These pieces encourage me to give my very best. It is with great joy that I accepted Agnès Pyka and Laurent Wagschal’s proposal to write a new sonata for violin and piano.

The sonata is a music genre that triggered my esthetic questioning at the end of the 80’s and led me to leave the ranks of the post-serial musicians. My first sonata, Op.40, dates from 1994. It emphasizes melodic dominance and sketches a reconquest of the classical bi-thematic sonata form. The second sonata, Op. 75 was written in 2002. It emphasizes the specific formal

option of the sonata and explores the rondo form in the “Finale”. The third, Op. 138 is called “Torso” due to its contours that seem sculpted by a chisel. Besides, it is, just as some of my main works, written as a single piece. It includes different movements linked together and it forms a whole which can be interpreted as a synthesis between the sonata form and free variations on two additional themes.

The fourth sonata subtitle will be “Frei aber Einsam und Froh”; as a reference to Joseph Joachim’s motto (Frei aber Einsam) – which was used by Schumann, Dietrich and Brahms for the Sonata F.A.E. – merged with Brahms’ “Frei aber Froh”, the title of the first movement of his third sonata. This will provide the piece main pattern: F, A, E, F sharp. Any similarity to the author’s personal life is purely coincidental.”

 

GRACIANE FINZI – Winternacht for violin and piano (2018)

To Agnès Pyka and Laurent Wagschal

“When Agnès Pyka asked me to write a piece for violin and piano around Brahms’ sonatas, I was immediately thrilled by the idea for multiple reasons.

Firstly, I deeply appreciated the talent Agnès Pyka and Laurent Wagschal during several concerts where they performed my works. In addition, drawing on such a musical masterpiece for piano and violin as Johannes Brahms’s three sonatas is at the same time challenging and rewarding.

I’m truly delighted about this project, especially because of the collaboration with the two other composers: Philippe Hersant and Nicolas Bacri.”

En partenariat avec l’Ambassade de France à Malte, l’Alliance Française Malte-Méditerranée et le Département musique de l’Université de Malte.

Avec le soutien du Malta Society for Arts. Valletta Cultural Agency et Valletta Design Cluster.

BIOGRAPHY

Agnès Pyka – Artistic Director / violin

One of the most distinctive and talented violinists of her generation, Agnès Pyka has dedicated most of her life to chamber music.

After studying in France and abroad with the greatest masters (Franco Gulli, Mariana Sirbu, Giuliano Carminoglia, Ferenc Rados, Lorand Fenyves…), she created the flexibly sized ensemble and  creative laboratory “Des Equilibres” in 2006. She then collaborated with the biggest names in music, notably for the opening of Marseille Capital of Culture in 2013, with Fazil Say on Turkish art music, the recording of Bartok duets with Jan Talich and the creation of the concert “Still Point” with Ray Lema, a quintet with piano.

Always keen to explore present-day repertoires, Agnès has worked with many contemporary composers, as in the creation of “Mukae” with François Rossé and traditional dancer No Shiro Daimon, or the development of the educational project “Jeux de Cordes” around Graciane Finzi’s music. She commissioned works revolving around Brahms’ sonatas from composers Nicolas Bacri, Philippe Hersant and Graciane Finzi, composed during a residency at the Scène Nationale “La Ferme du Buisson” in January 2019. Agnès also  coordinated  the  multidisciplinary project Une Nuit Transfigurée around painted art, video and music, which premiered in January 2022. Additionally, in 2022, she will propose the complete chamber music for strings of César Franck during four different concerts.

Des Équilibres also opened the way to new horizons for Agnès: a collaboration with Thierry De Mey and his sister Michèle Anne De Mey as part of a dance performance, a collaboration with Algerian oud player Nour  Eddine Saoudi and his musicians, a performance at the Angkor Vat Temple alongside the National Ballet of Cambodia. Agnès has consistently increased the scope  of possibilities for classical music over the course of her encounters and her numerous tours abroad (Poland, Switzerland, Canada, Russia, Turkey, Malta, Myanmar, Cambodia, Israel, Albania, Italy, Spain, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia). 2022 will be the occasion to encounter the famous Fado singer Cristina Branco and to set up a cross-disciplinary creation of contemporary art and traditional music. This project was selected to be part of the season France-Portugal by the Institut Français (French institute).

Her discography has been largely acclaimed by national and international critics: “Quartets et trios” by Sándor Veress (4 **** Classica), “44 duos” by Bartok on Indesens Records, “Des Cordes Marines”: string trios by Cras, Roussel and Bonnal as well as the first part of the Weinberg Sonatas, with pianist Laurent Wagschal, released in May 2018 by Arion (3 *** Classica and 3 diapasons). The second part, with pianist Dimitri Vassilakis, released in November 2019 to celebrate the centenary of the composer’s birth.

The sense of isolation, caused by the various quarantine periods, would become the driving force of the recording of the three brand new pieces by Philippe  Hersant, Nicolas Bacri and Graciane Finzi. These compositions, part of the project Brahms Aujourd’hui (Brahms Today), were released under the label of Klarthe in  February 2021, and received already: five stars by Classica, YYYY by Diapason, FFF by Télérama, the Supersonic label by Pizzicato. Additionally, the record was nominated for the ICMA International Classical Music Award 2022. Brahms Aujourd’hui would be followed by the recording of Voyage avec un violon seul (Journey with a Solo Violin), a trip through four centuries of music figuring J.S. Bach, A. Khatchatourian and T. de Mey (digital release in autumn 2021, physical release in February 2022) under the label of Klarthe. In 2022, she will record the complete chamber music for strings of César Franck, in collaboration with Klarthe label and studio Stephen Paulello. The record release is planned at the beginning of 2023 and will include four different records gathered in one single box.

BIOGRAPHY 

Laurent Wagschal – Piano

Laurent Wagschal is a multiple international-award recipient. As one of the most brilliant and creative pianists of his generation, he has distinguished himself in the last few years by his commitment to promote French repertoire and many unfairly overlooked composers. His discography has been widely praised by the press (Télérama, le Monde, Diapason, Classica, Pianiste Magazine…) and include some twenty recordings such as: an album dedicated to Gabriel Pierné’s sets of piano works; Fauré’s 13 Nocturnes; Florent Schmitt’s sets for piano; Saint-Saens’ Complete Chamber Music With Winds with the soloists of the Paris Orchestra (nominated at the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2011 in the category “Best recording of the year”), Chausson’s Concert and Mendelssohn Double Concerto with Nicolas Dautricourt and the Auvergne Orchestra ; Debussy’s chamber music with the soloists of the Paris Orchestra, Szymanowski’s complete sets of violin and piano works with Nicolas Dautricourt.

Laurent Wagschal regularly performs at some of the most prestigious venues in Paris including Théatre du Chatelet, Théa tre des Champs-Elysées, Théa tre Mogador, Musée d’Orsay, Radio France, as well as at international venues (Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Auditorium Nacional de Musica in Madrid, the Carnegie Hall in New York, Dongsoong Hall in Seoul, Tokyo Opera City Recital Hall) and at many festivals (Festival Chopin à Bagatelle, Midem de Cannes, Festival des Arcs, Festival du Périgord Noir, Festival Présences, Automne en Normandie, Piano à Riom…).

He performed as a soloist or with orchestra such as Concerts Lamoureux Orchestra, Pasdeloup orchestra, Cité Universitaire de Paris Orchestra, Auvergne Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, Poznan Philharmony, l’Orchestre Classica, Orchestra of Moscow and the Kaliningrad Orchestra.

Dates

Friday 28 April 2023

7pm

Venue

Concert Hall of the Malta Society of Arts,
Palazzo de La Salle, 219, Republic Street, Valletta

Entrance Fee

Free

Details

Date:
28 April, 2023
Time:
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Venue

Palazzo de La Salle
Republic Street
Valletta,
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